So I'm writing this without having yet seen today's Oprah show with Terry McMillan and Jonathan Plummer. Neither have the women in my gym, but nonetheless, that didn't stop the early morning chatter. (I'll catch the show this evening... it's on DVR).
Anyway, a few people at my morning gym know I've written a novel featuring black and brown gay characters (who live in our part of town), and every now and then, a few will ask my opinion on something gay-related, or just to get a progressive point-of-view on an issue. I usually oblige, and then tell them I'm no more an expert than they are... that we're all capable of learning what/who we don't know. Anyways...
So like most gyms, there are televisions above the treadmills, and ours are always set to ABC7. It's like a freaking Disney monopoly, but that's besides the point. The Oprah commercials come on, previewing today's show that will come on in the late afternoon in L.A. And like clockwork, everyone's headphones come off, and the treadmills decelerate from from 7s, 6s, and 5s, to comfortable 3s for walking... and then talking.
The women were freaking out. "Lord, if my husband ever turned out to be..." "That's such a shame what happened to..." "Let's face it, every man is capable of..." The one on my left and my right asked me what I thought: you know about this stuff, right?
So I told them I know my own life and my truth. And I told them that I hope they look at the bigger picture beyond the personal dynamics between two people, Terry McMillan and Jonathan Plummer, whom none of us knows personally.
What's that, they ask?
I answer, dishonesty is wrong, no matter what the sexual orientation is. However, the BIGGER question and conversation I wanted them to have is this: What conditions in society make it difficult for gay and lesbian people to come out and be honest about who they are? Why is it usually on the gay or lesbian person to justify their existence? And why aren't straight people taking responsibility for homophobia and conditions that might make it difficult for gays and lesbians to come out?...
When we start to have that conversation, I explained, we'll have a society, and families, and schools, and churches, and media, that isn't so shocked and awed by a person choosing not to be honest about his or her sexual orientation. And then, on the flip side, when gays and lesbians choose to come out, they make it easier for others to learn and accept and come out when they're ready.
Maybe that was kinda deep for our normal morning exercise, but it's a conversation I've tried to re-frame everytime someone gets into the blame game about these kind of subjects.