THE PASSAGE OF PROPOSITION 8 IN CALIFORNIA
TRIGGERS DEEP CONCERNS ABOUT PERSONAL FREEDOMS
While there is much to celebrate in the past week in American political life, there is also reason for sadness and deep concern. Whether you are gay or not, the removal of freedoms won by law is no laughing matter. On this day in 1941, Heinrich Himmler ordered the arrest and deportation to concentration camps of all homosexuals in Germany (save for a few high ranking Nazi officials…cronyism and hypocrisy aren't new things in politics). Pastor Martin Niemöller's oft-quoted commentary on the inaction of Germans who opposed the Nazi agenda sadly springs immediately to mind:
When the Nazis came for the communists
I remained silent
I was not a communist
When they locked up the social democrats
I remained silent
I was not a social democrat
When they came for the trade unionists
I did not speak out
I was not a trade unionist
When they came for the Jews
I remained silent
I was not a Jew
When they came for me
there was no one left to speak out
While there is plenty of finger pointing that can be done on this matter, it seems far more important to step back and look at the bald inhumanity of telling two people in love that they cannot marry, that they cannot have the same social sanctification as those around them simply because they share the same sex. For many of us it is inconceivable that we are still debating this issue in the 21st century. The need for some to tear down the rights of others out of fear and ignorance is never pretty, and the passage of Prop. 8 in California and measures like it in a number of other states threaten core values in the American ideal. If we truly believe that "all men are created equal," then why establish inequities against any of them?
We begin this week's Eye Candy with a Special Comment from the fine Countdown with Keith Olberman program on MSNBC from earlier this week. In a very succinct way, Olberman slices to the heart of the injustice and darkness behind the passage of Prop. 8 and asks perhaps the most relevant question to those who voted for the proposition that anyone has offered on the subject: "Why does this matter to you?"
The musical portion of this installment starts with one of the greatest gay protest songs of all-time, Tom Robinson's "Glad To Be Gay" taken from the Secret Policeman's Ball in 1979.
From Sessions at West 54th in 1998, here's Rufus Wainwright playing his "Danny Boy," which speaks to a different kind of Irish eyes smiling and crying.
While a strutting billboard for heterosexuality, Rod Stewart created one of the finest laments for gay bashing ever with "The Killing of Georgie (Parts I & II)."
We turn to another bit of throbbin' American manhood, Bruce Springsteen, who gives great humanity to gay life under A.I.D.S. that reminds us of the faces and souls behind the name calling and prejudice some people harbor. Instead of "The Boss," we offer you a live cover from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone overflowing with jagged feeling.
The abject loneliness and isolation created by a society that rejects one because of their sexual orientation has rarely been so clearly etched as Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy," captured here on the Oxford Road Show in 1984. Remember, every gay or lesbian person is someone's daughter or son. Would you like your child treated unfairly by anyone or denied the same rights as you? Listen to the pain in Jimmy Somerville's voice if you have any doubts about your answer to this question.
We conclude on a brighter note. Few songs have embraced gay culture as joyously as The Kinks' "Lola." Here's the lads in 1970 sharing a cherry cola down in Soho with the ol' "girl." Let it make you smile and then go out and do something for your fellow human beings. Fight for basic freedoms. Fight for fairness.
For more background on Proposition 8 pop over here
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