The Kt we loved

The Kt we loved
"I just might hurt you if you don't move that camera." — Kt

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back in California

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 individual rights.

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!