A Lesson in Empathy: Gay Rights are Civil Rights

A poll reveals that a majority of US citizens[16] disapprove of homosexuality, or at least consider it less than ideal, and prefer that public policy does not encourage it. They also believe that accepting homosexuality would require the loss of rights to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and traditional marriage.[17] Conservatives criticize attempts by gay rights activists to prohibit any statements which are critical of homosexuality, such as the idea that it is "unnatural" or "sinful", using hate crimes statutes and anti-discrimination laws.

Conservatives also oppose attempts by homosexual activists to indoctrinate children by using liberal tactics such as tolerance or forcing diversity programs onto children in schools which strongly encourage the acceptance of homosexual behavior. Notable figures including Tony Perkins have expressed concerns.

— Conservapedia

A Lesson in Empathy: Gay Rights are Civil Rights


Justice Putnam

I am not Gay, but I insist on Gay Rights. I am not Black either; in fact, I am not part of any identifiable racial minority. I am not Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern. I am not physically disabled. I am not too poor, I am not an immigrant and I am not a woman; but I believe that equality for all means just that.

In my youth, a neighbor explained to my dad how he could never feel comfortable with blacks having equal rights. In earlier diaries, I’ve mentioned the repercussions of our family’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement; how we had crosses burned on our front lawn, molotov cocktails tossed at the garage, bomb threats called into my dad’s office at the university he taught at.

"I was mugged and beaten by some ni##*^s when I was seventeen," I remember the neighbor stating, "I just can’t trust any of them anymore."

I recall my dad, in his patient commonsense, explain to the neighbor how it was wrong to condemn a whole race for the transgressions of a few. But I know that neighbor’s state of mind, because I had a similar one for years. I found nothing wrong with denigrating Gays at every turn.


Because I was molested by one as a child.

I hold no secrets. I don’t hide behind a nom de plume and I have had a long public life; albeit, one that is minor at best. My life has been an open book and I have not spared myself in the narrative. I was not particularly traumatized by the molestation. I was also not the only one that was molested at that summer school in 1966; but my family was the only one that took the perpetrator to court where he pled guilty.

I didn’t need to go to counseling because my parents were so adept at it themselves. But by high school, a disdain of anything homosexual gripped me anyway. The worst invective, the worst insult was to call someone a fag; if a referee made a dubious call during a football game, he was a fag; if someone made a bonehead driving maneuver, they were fags; if someone didn’t measure up to my exalted values, they were fags.

That temperament changed when I stopped some toughs who attended another school from beating up a guy I knew in my acting class. Mickey later went on to be a regular extra for the entire run of the television show, Happy Days, but I knew little of his personal life when I came to his aid.

I was a five-sport varsity letterman and captain of the debate team. I had also been writing poetry and stories since I was in elementary school and wanted to learn playwriting; I figured some acting classes would help. The three toughs who were kicking Mickey near the orange grove as I happened by were calling him a faggot. In spite of my feelings at the time about homosexuality, three toughs kicking a guy on the ground was immoral. I had no hesitency or trouble chasing the three away.

I helped Mickey to his feet and could tell he was hurt pretty bad. Being not far from my Placentia, California home, I insisted he go with me so he could clean the blood off his face and my mom could call his mom.

"Why were those guys kicking you?" I asked, "and calling you a faggot?"

"Because I’m Gay." Mickey replied.

By the time we walked the two blocks up Yorba Linda Blvd to our cul de sac, I had an epiphany.

It would never occur to me to call a black man, the "N" word, why would it be ok then, to call someone a faggot and hate them for it?

It just didn’t make sense.

I understood then and there, that Gay Rights were Civil Rights. Denying a Gay to just be was as un-Civil as denying equal rights to any group.

I went on to travel and play music. I acted some and have written a lot. I taught briefly and worked many diverse jobs. I married and had a son who then married and had a son and daughter.

Why would Mickey, or any Gay man, or any Lesbian be denied all that? Why would they be denied Equal Protection under the Law? Why would they be denied Due Process, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Only because they are Gay or Lesbian?

I was molested by one man who I understood, rightly or wrongly, to be homosexual. I know that not all homosexuals are to be judged by the transgressions of the few idiots. I also know that the anger and fear any of us may have for any individual or group is not enough to justify the denial of Equal Protection and Due Process.

The denial of these inherent rights, these Civil Rights is… well, immoral.

© 2007 and 2009 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches Strophe-Verlagswesen

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