Obama Comes Out

As everyone knows by now, our president has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. It was a move that none of us saw coming — or at least didn’t think would come before his reelection. But alas, the historical moment has arrived. And not unlike the moment when same-sex marriage was legalized in New York, there’s been a mixed reception from some of the more radical corners of the queer blogosphere. I see many reminders of his warmongering ways. Many reminders of his inaction on this policy. Yes, it is true that we queers still remain in the shadows of second-class citizenship. And yes, Obama’s words demonstrate nothing more than mere rhetorical tricks aimed at raising campaign funds.

But do yourselves a favor and watch the actual video. From my perspective, we see a man — a heterosexual man — experiencing what it’s like to come out of the closet. Listen to the way in which he hesitates. Pay attention to the way that he sets himself up to drop the “bomb” he knows is coming. Then remember what it was like for you to come out. How your nerves were wracked before you told the ones you loved. You hesitated to tell them, didn’t you? For fear of ridicule? For fear of getting kicked out of the house? For fear of being told you were going to hell? For some of us, the experience of coming out didn’t turn out so well. For others of us, it wound up allowing us to breathe a huge sigh of relief. So that’s what strikes me as being extraordinary: Our president knows what it’s like to clear the air so that its conditions might become slightly more breathable.

Watch the video again, and remember…

The Right Wing, Wrong Again

My book group and I are reading the new Cleopatra biography, Cleopatra: A Life. One of the first facts that it corrected for me was that Cleopatra was Greek, not African. I think that somewhere around the age of 19, some professor had told me that Cleopatra didn’t look anything like Elizabeth Taylor. I took this to mean that she “wasn’t white.” My conclusion made sense, given Egypt’s geography and white people’s insistence on claiming every ounce of history for themselves. But as the book points out, I was under the wrong impression.

I was also under a false impression about something else. A seemingly well-intended Republican claimed on the house floor the other day that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, started the organization as a means to an evil end. Conspiratorial history tells us that she was a believer in eugenics, or the science of “improving” a human population by means of controlled reproduction. This led me to assume that Planned Parenthood’s foundations were rather shady, but no one ever talks about it.

But of course I thought wrong. This argument has been used by anti-choicers as a means to tug on the heart strings of The Left, which in this case they take to mean “black people and those who have their best interests in mind.” As this post strongly points out, this argument is used to instill fear into the hearts of women who are in need of care. And as this Representative points out, Planned Parenthood is a much-needed presence in the lives of many women throughout the country who need access to reproductive care.

Though it doesn’t seem as though it will pass, this bill brings up the fact that the Right Wing loves to prey on our misconceptions, often created by their own imaginative view of what the truth of the matter really is.