Lena and I had dinner with my brother, sister, and her boyfriend a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t spent too much time around the boyfriend yet, though everything I knew about him up until that point had been pretty positive.
He’s generally a family guy, loves his momma, seems to be very supportive of my sister, has a cool job, is funny and attractive, and more importantly that any of this, my sister likes him. He’s from Trinidad, and brings a bit of foreign mystique and worldliness with him as well.
Which is why it just kills me that I don’t like him. You see, he’s also a bigot.
It was happy hour when we went out, and we had all had a couple of drinks. That was when I witnessed firsthand why my sister calls him “The Interrupter.” He got to the point where he literally was unable to allow anyone at the table to finish a sentence on any subject without interrupting them with his opinion on what they were saying. This became a source of immense amusement to the rest of us as we surreptitiously began playing a conversational version of the Gap game* with each other. (We discussed the rules during one of the boyfriend’s bathroom breaks.) We would take turns — going clockwise around the table — making a lengthy pronouncement on a completely new subject each time. The first one who could come up with a subject that was so uninteresting to the Interrupter that he would allow you to get all the way through your sentence would win. None of us was a match for him though.
At some point later Lena was telling the story of when she first moved to Jacksonville, and stayed with my parents for a month. (I was back in Gainesville, selling our house.) It’s a good story to illustrate just how freaking crazy my ex-dad is. During the story, the subject of gays came up. The Interrupter, unsurprisingly, had a range of opinions on this subject as well, but most of them centered on how we should be treating gays as second-class citizens. There were several things that he felt gays should not have equal access to in our society, marriage,(gays only want the right to marry so they can have children and collect welfare) public speech, (the only possible reason for gays to want to have role models in the public eye is as recruiters for the purpose of corrupting America’s youth) and economic parity. (The gays are taking all the best jobs — I’m not sure how this one interlocks with the welfare thing, exactly.) but what most interested me about his position was that after about a half-hour of searching, he finally admitted that his ideas on societal change regarding gays stemmed not from any actual notions of genuine threat or upheaval, but simply because he personally didn’t like gay people. He freely admitted that were he in a position to do so, he would actively pursue the curtailing of the civil rights of gay people, because he thought that man on man sex was icky. (Though he liked the idea of girl on girl.)
An idea occurred to me yesterday, which I think has some merit and might make everyone happy. Every citizen in the country has an implicit agreement with their nation at birth. As an American we enjoy certain inalienable rights, along with a wide variety of privileges, and we have obligations we are expected to perform in return. My thought is that for every right we strip away from a group of people, we similarly relieve them of an obligation. For instance, if we don’t allow gays to marry, then they also don’t have to pay sales tax. If we don’t allow gays to have TV shows about gay people, then gays no longer have to stop for red lights or wait in lines at theme parks. No insurance coverage for domestic partnerships? Well then no need to obey any laws passed on a Tuesday and your postage gets mailed for free! Military service isn’t a good one, since it isn’t really an obligation unless it’s obligatory. Voting is bad too, since the majority of Americans obviously feel no sense of obligation there. I think many gays might like legal permission to hang out in parking lots and beat up Baptists. I wonder what rights we could strip from them for that?
I think this approach could have some legs if enough of you out there write their Congressman about it. Just think, you could be part of a glorious new chapter in American history! Kids would have to learn about yourmovement in grade-school — the American Civil Bigotry Movement!
Just don’t try and talk to my sister’s boyfriend about it. You’ll never get a word in edgewise.
*In case this was generational and nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about, the Gap game is when you and your opponent enter the Gap (the clothing store) and try to make it all the way to the jeans wall at the very back of the room without being greeted by one of their creepily friendly salespeople.