I was at Voltage HQ this week for a sales meeting. Even though we took Katie to Anaheim (Disneyland!) at least as often as to San Francisco, being out there made me think of her even more than usual, because she so loved the Bay Area.
And that’s also where I first encountered homosexuality, which also makes me
think of Katie, with her staunchly libertarian (in the “a person who believes
in the doctrine of free will” sense, not the political party) passion for
The progress toward universal acceptance of homosexuality (modulo the
Russians!) is something she would have been thrilled about. This week we’re hearing
about a college football player, Michael Sam, who’s openly
gay and will almost certainly be drafted by the NFL, breaching one of the last homophobic
strongholds. I caught a radio discussion the other day in which someone pointed
out that his college team has known he was gay for months, kept it a secret,
and were fiercely protective of him and his privacy—and that this should
basically shut down any BS about how a team [deep, serious voice] “cannot
possibly survive” with a gay player.
This change in public attitudes seems to me to be as dramatic as the race
rights advances were in the 1960s. I mostly grew up in a small town in Ontario,
where there “were no homosexuals”—of course there were, but they were
deeply closeted. You had to go to a much larger town to find people who were
open about their sexuality; “fag” was a common epithet, probably worthy of a
fistfight (unless the other guy was much bigger). And I expect this was pretty
typical for the era.
In 1976, when I was in high school, my dad was on sabbatical at Stanford. At
some point during that year, my parents were invited to a party in San
Francisco, and my sister and I went with them. A bunch of us spent time at that
party playing a computer trivia game (connected via dialup to a computer all
the way across the Bay, in Berkeley—hot stuff!), and I wound up driving the
keyboard, because I could touch-type.
On the way home that evening, I commented to my sister that some of those
folks really knew their trivia. “Yeah”, she responded, “especially that one gay
guy”. My reaction was, “Gay guy?!”—and then I realized which fellow she was
referring to, and had an epiphany: it
didn’t matter. All the biased negative BS I’d heard couldn’t matter, if I’d
spent an hour or two with this fellow poking me in the arm as he shouted out
answers. I mean, he was touching me! and nothing bad happened!!!
This epiphany has obviously stuck with me for over 35 years, and I honestly
believe that the war is over. Less than fifty years after Stonewall, that’s decent
progress, though of course not fast enough for those who have suffered in the
meantime. One can only hope that in far less than three decades, this all seems
like crazy, ancient, outmoded thinking. And Katie’s generation seems determined
to make that happen.
Speaking of the Russians, check this out—Canada’s
response to the anti-gay stance at the Olympics!