It's great fodder for late night talk shows when a prominent anti-gay figure is forced out of the closet, but it occurred to me lately that perhaps we as a society have failed in our responsibility to respond appropriately to these individuals such as George Rekers, Ted Haggard and Larry Craig. Yes, there's some measure of satisfaction in knowing that those lining up to throw stones are hypocrites. And it's always rewarding to see holier-than-thou people brought down a peg.
But there's much more going on here than some loudmouths participating in the very behavior they've built their careers opposing. I recently re-visited Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel, The Bluest Eye, and I was reminded of my studies of African-American culture in college. Even today, there are some very misguided sentiments among African-Americans vis-a-vis their racial identity. In Morrison's novel, we see the world through the eyes of three young girls, who have varying perspectives on what it means to be black in Jim Crow America. There is a sense of inferiority; Shirley Temple is the ideal to which they can never aspire by virtue of their own skin color. The narrator loathes the white girl, whom her sister and friend futilely idolize.
I cannot help but view today's "Gay America" through the same paradigm. Perhaps there are no "Straights Only" water fountains, but there may as well be for all the vitriolic views that persist against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters. We should resist the temptation to ridicule the Rekers, Haggards and Craigs of America. What chance at self-acceptance did they have, in a world that taught them their very nature was an abomination to be denied? Yes, it's disappointing that they bought into the homophobic doctrine; but we ought to temper our desire to celebrate their being exposed with the very tolerance we profess to have for the LGBT community at large.