Vail Daily letter: A choice, really?
Vail, CO, Colorado
I watched Ken Buck on Sunday on “Meet the Press,” whose moderator is David Gregory. Their exchange went like this:
Gregory: “Do you believe that being gay is a choice?”
Buck: “I do.”
Gregory: “Based on what?”
Buck: “Based on what? Well, I guess, you can choose who your partner is.”
Gregory: “You don’t think it’s something determined at birth?”
Buck: “I think birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically, you have a choice.”
That’s it, in its entirety, the complete context. It was a short segment.
In the past two weeks, widely reported in the national news, there were two stories: One was a story of four, separate and unrelated, young guys who killed themselves because they were bullied for being gay. The other national newsmaking story out of the Bronx, N.Y., was about a local street gang that lured three other guys into an abandoned house, beat them for hours, tortured them with a toilet plunger and burned them with lit cigarettes.
Essentially, these sad stories were about how much these young guys struggled with, and suffered the consequences of, coming to terms with being gay.
It was so anguishing for some of them that their solution to ending the pain was to kill themselves.
For the boys in New York – on rumors alone – they suffered hours of beating and abuse in an empty, cold building at the hands of vicious, ignorant gang kids.
Did Ken Buck miss these news stories? Did he just not care? Or did he figure, “Eehhh, so what? They had it coming”?
Does Ken Buck think that if being gay is a choice, any of these young guys would have chosen this fate?
Does Ken Buck think that being gay is a preferable choice to being straight because it’s so cool and risking outcomes like this is fun?
Can Ken Buck tell me when, precisely, he chose to be straight?
One night, almost 12 years ago to the day, a mother and father got a phone call from the Laramie, Wyo., police to tell them that their son, Matthew Shepard, had been found beaten nearly to death and tied crudely to a fencepost in a rural field where he was robbed and left by his attackers to die.
He’d been there, in a coma, for 18 hours before someone discovered him. Five days passed before he finally died.
This might upset some gay people who read this, but speaking for myself, if being gay were a choice, I would have chosen differently. I know a lot of other people who share my sentiments (we don’t talk about it much; what’s the point?), but we’re committed to living the best lives that we can. We all know that after the initial turmoil of acknowledging our sexuality, it gets better.
I wonder if Ken Buck has ever thought about why we would choose to hide and lie in the military or be truthful and jeopardize our only career. Why would we choose to be treated unequally by employers, landlords and co-workers or be denied access to loved ones who are sick?
Why would we choose to have to fight for a fully recognized marriage to the person we love, or suffer bullies, or move through acres and acres of internal doubt and go to painful places within ourselves that straight society never even thinks about?
Why would we choose to lead lonely, isolated lives in rural towns or deny our truth to the point that we build ourselves into the cage of a false marriage to please our families or placate straight society?
Why would we choose to be part of an oppressed group of people who are feared and loathed by great swaths of this society, or be deemed illegal in whole countries, or deal with the pain of burying our friends who died of AIDS in the prime of their lives?
Why would we choose to be in such anguish that the only solution we could come up with is to jump off the George Washington Bridge or hang ourselves in the backyard on a clothesline for our mothers to find?
Being gay is certainly not all bad. There are a lot of good things that come with being gay and living truthfully. But it is freighted with things many people never even consider. There is a downside to it.
I’ve watched with deep satisfaction as many other moralizing authority figures and conservative leaders who share Ken Buck’s ignorant and extreme stance on gays regularly blow up in their own same-sex messes. The hypocrisy is all too believable.
It’d be easy to condemn Ken Buck for being judgmental, which implies that
he’s thought this topic through and has drawn his own, reasoned conclusion, but that would be extending him the benefit
of a doubt he doesn’t deserve; he’s just ignorant.
Lyndon LaRouche or David Duke come to mind. Ken Buck would even legally force a woman to carry her rapist’s child to term. Then what is she to do? What about the fate of the child?
Take a moment, and really think about that. Then what?
Reading this, many supporters of Buck could dismiss me as a one-issue voter, a fag with an ax to grind. I realize that. But in his case, what more do I need? Ken Buck portrays himself and the tea party as an inclusive “big tent.” Would I be wrong to conclude that the only openness and human dignity he must be talking about is the kind that fits his way of thinking?
Buck’s website shows a picture of him, his wife and a beautiful son and daughter. I don’t know much about Ken Buck’s life, but I can’t help wondering if he’s ever had a call from a hospital with the worst possible news about one of his own kids.