August 18, 2011

Bert and Ernie

Bert and Ernie

Lastly, it is a bit annoying to have imaginary characters dubbed “gay” according to contemporary tastes. Bert and Ernie are suddenly gay because they are best friends and have shared a bedroom for 40 years. One supposes Holmes and Watson must be as well. Or the Three Musketeers. Or Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. Or Frodo and Samwise. Or Robin Hood and all his Merry Men. (Because she is the author, one has to bow to J. K. Rowling’s assertion that Dumbledore is gay—but you could not tell from reading the Harry Potter books). But, of course, the issue is all about building gay self-esteem.

The same quest has caused many gay scholars to annex for themselves various historical episodes, places, and people. The late John Boswell, for example, saw gay marriage in at least some Church-sanctioned male-bonding ceremonies but which were in fact Christianized forms of blood brotherhood—akin to compadrazgo. Gay Boston history maven Douglass Shand-Tucci affects to see in married architect and conservative thinker Ralph Adams Cram and his circle a sort of queer cabal (to which Ethan Anthony, current head of Cram’s firm replied in his own book on the master, “I have found no evidence to support his [Shand-Tucci’s] theories”). Of course, Shand-Tucci also asserts that Anglo-Catholicism in general is simply homosexuality in cassocks and surplices. Most historians would doubtless cite this sort of theorizing as proof that you can find anything you want to, if you want to hard enough—though wanting it does not make it so.

The fact is that sexuality—yes, and homosexuality, too—winds its way through history and literature, through childhood and life. But it is only one strand, and—save that it continues the species—not always the most important. The point of educating children is really to teach them how to live well and what is worth dying for, in a manner appropriate to their age. Before puberty arrives to cloud one’s vision (as it does until death), it is vitally important that a child have his values and morals firmly implanted. The heroic, the beautiful, and the social are what he needs—standing by one’s friends, telling the truth, loving his family, his country, and his God. When he comes of age, he will in the course of things decide for himself what is true or not (and pay the price for any mistakes in judgment). Without such a foundation, however, he will be at the mercy of whatever he sees or is told by his rulers in government or media.

Nevertheless, it may yet indeed be necessary to have a pair of puppets engage in a gay-marriage ceremony on television. If so, I nominate Mayor Tony Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (former mayor of San Francisco). Their union would bridge the state’s gap between North and South, Latino and Anglo, and the fact that both are aggressively (even adulterously) heterosexual would spell out how truly open we are. As societal attitudes evolve, Governor Brown could join the marriage, thus mainstreaming polygamists and necrophiles as well. But it would be a strictly adult show.



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