In the town where I live there is a museum dedicated to a beloved, famous singer. It is filled with the now deceased artist’s worldly possessions: flowing costumes, concert programs, hand-written poems, self-painted paintings and scores of photos of the icon posing and singing attired in full make-up and ornate outfits. The artist, who is one of the most talented and beloved in this country’s history is called Zeki Müren. Apart from Müren’s amazing talent: penning countless songs, starring in films, writing musical scores, publishing books of poems and painting simply for pleasure, Müren is also notable because he was a man. A man born in the 1930’s who had a non-stop forty-five year career as a flamboyant, boundary-pushing homosexual singer in the Muslim country of Turkey. In fact the way Zeki Müren lived his life, paved the way for modern entertainers such as Bülent Ersoy who started her career as a man and then after gender reassignment surgery, simply continued her career as a woman. The people here love these individuals and although in Turkey there is still some homophobia at a familial level, the wider society without question accepts gender benders.
I write this on the eve of when over sixty-two percent of the Irish population has voted in favor of same sex marriage. The world was watching the vote with interest as it was a) the first time a country had held a referendum on this question and b) it was held in a predominantly Catholic country. Many were therefore surprised at the outcome, I however was not and that is because of Zeki Müren. If in 1950’s Turkey, he could be himself fully and flourish in an Islamic climate, then why can a referendum on same sex marriage not see a Yes vote in a Catholic country? The fact of the matter is that religion has a lot to answer for in relation to its persecution of individuals who do not exist within its dictate and the common man, especially the new generation, is tired of it. People want to be free to live how they wish to live; unrestrained by state, religion or social biases. Of course the more conservative among us will cry that it is the apocalypse and that the second coming is imminent, but I would argue that it is already here. We are all our own Christ sitting among the thieves and the whores washing their feet. We all want love and acceptance and we realise that in order to get it we need to give it. What an amazing revolution we are seeing. Could it be that we are finally going to celebrate and allow our individuality instead of judging, managing and expunging the differences of the minority? Perhaps, but I think that in order for this to happen then the minority need to get over themselves and join the majority.
Huh? What am I saying here? Am I not contradicting myself? No, I am merely pointing towards the next step. Let me explain: social media is filled with pro-gay propaganda and I say that not with disdain but with honesty. I seem to always be liking something posted by a friend or organisation about gays or gay rights. A recent one was a couple of friends who went to the prom together. One was a straight boy who fulfilled his gay friend’s wish, by asking him to be his date for their school celebration. Their story became an Internet sensation and the two ended up on the Ellen Show together where they each received ten thousand dollars towards their college educations. I am not lying when I say that I cried reading about this instance. It was such a beautiful example of friendship. It was a beautiful example of one person really listening to another person and answering their prayer. It was a beautiful example of unconditional platonic love between two beings. It was not for me however, an example of gay rights and that is the point I am trying to make. We need to start looking at things in a holistic inclusionary manner because the more we point out our differences, the more we make ourselves different from each other and allow these differences to pit us against one another. So why point them out at all?
I remember being at my aunt and uncle’s one weekend when a news item about the Gay Pride Parade in London came on TV. A conversation ensued where they stated their shared opinion. They didn’t care what people did (in fact my aunt’s cousin is gay) but they objected to such a public display of extreme behaviour. They said that when they were young there were practicing homosexuals and lesbians but they didn’t talk about it or show it. Rather folk just knew it and let them get on with it. It, was the two eccentric, unmarried bachelors sharing a house together and the two school teaching, spinsters doing the same. People talked, they were not unaware of the concept of same sex relationships, but they didn’t condemn or ostracise these individuals for their lifestyles. I thought about what they were saying because it seemed to me that these people were able almost 100 years ago, to live how they wanted to live as long as they didn’t talk about it. This of course is what most readers will want to point out: why should anyone live their lives in silence and this assertion has put gay rights in the spotlight for the past 40 years. Because, for all of those people quietly living illegally together and being accepted in their communities, there were many people living in sham marriages, there were many people living solitary lonely lives, and there were many people self-destructing or even killing themselves because they could not live as they truly were. It is these unlucky people for which the gay rights movement has spoken and continues to speak. The problem is that I think the movement is now doing more harm than good and it is time to shut up.
We get it. The majority of people in the world think they are straight and the minority of people think they are gay. Huh? Think they are? That’s right. Clever people who study human sexuality will tell you one thing for certain: the majority of people are neither gay nor straight, rather we are all shades in between. Human sexuality is a continuum upon which we all fall. It is a small minority that is totally gay or totally straight. When I was young I had many gay friends and I spent my teenage years in gay bars: dancing, partying, having tons of fun. I had many interactions with gay men who would joke that they would turn straight for me. Why? Because a small part of them could be attracted to a woman. But most importantly they were attracted to a person. That is my point. Why are we all fighting over someone’s right to fall wherever they fall on the human sexuality continuum? It is like fighting between blacks and whites: ummmm…didn’t we all come from the same lineage that originated in Africa? So we are all opposing each other based on who is more gay or who is more black? Who is more straight or who is more white? It is totally illogical. Time to realise we are all just people, People! We are all people who should be allowed to get married because some people can get married. People who should all have a voice because some people have a voice. People who should all have a date to the prom because some people can have a date to the prom. Instead of retreating to our own safe, opinion informing groups we need to become one group: the human being group.
Sadly, mankind loves groups. It loves compartmentalising. It loves dividing and division. The human brain actually thrives that way. But I am talking about a revolution; about the second coming; about a new universal way of living. I am suggesting that we get rid of gay rights, men’s rights, women’ rights, worker’s rights, striker’s rights, streaker’s rights – of all rights and wrongs. I am suggesting that we give every sentient being the opportunity to be who they want to be, in the manner they want to be it. Of course, I am not saying that we let people go around doing anti-social, violent or harmful things. However, I am suggesting that if I want to run around my house naked spitting lollipops and that behaviour isn’t hurting anyone else, then I should be allow to get on with it and I shouldn’t be branded a “Naked Lollipop Spitter”. In this way, we can all march hand in hand towards a new day. A day where teenagers who are scared of being different because of their sexuality aren’t killing themselves. A day where all adults can be allowed the mistake of getting married (that’s a married woman’s joke). A day when an entertainer’s rises in his career as a man and his continues his popularity as a woman. Wait a minute, that day has already come, fingers crossed for the rest.