Before I begin, I have a simple request for the majority of voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah: Bend over. It's obviously not today, and it won't be tomorrow, but at some point you'll be taking it in a way that Richard Simmons can only dream of when he's flipping through the latest Men's Fitness. No more making nice for you people. Deliverance will seem like Mary Poppins to y'all when this is over.
For anyone who was sleeping last Tuesday, the 11 above-mentioned states voted "yes" on initiatives calling for constitutions to be amended to define marriage as the sole property of heterosexuals. In Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, the "yes" votes nearly tripled the naysayers. If there is any homo left in this country who still thinks Philadelphia and politesse are the way to change people's minds, I'd like to ask him to excuse himself not only from this discussion but from the gay persuasion—there are plenty of nervous, effeminate husbands out there ready to help you change your ways and find a good woman, so you'd better get out while the getting's good. The kid gloves are off from here on out, Nancy.
The elections left me saddened, angry, and more convinced than ever that the supposed success of pop assimilation like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy means exactly nothing for the nation at large. The goofy gay pals and neighbors on sitcoms and in mainstream films don't do squat in Utah. Colin Farrell was willing to briefly buss a queer best friend in A Home at the End of the World, but folks in Mississippi are more inclined to nod in repulsed sympathy when he tells GQ that the experience was disgusting (thanks again, Colin). It's going to take Stonewall-sized rocks and not La Cage Aux Folles feathers to make change. If we're going to get anywhere in the march toward equality, we'll have to have more will and less grace.
But equality is going to be ours—shout it, demand it, believe it. Know that ignorance can be altered through understanding, but accept nothing less than understanding and have no patience for anyone blaming Kerry's loss on our existence. Don't be silent in your intolerance. Be "out" in a manner that makes Harvey Fierstein look "in." The fact that Dubya has to veil his bigotry at all—with specious promises about the value of every citizen—means we've come further than anyone would have imagined even two decades ago. We're not far enough, though, and moving further requires not relaxing into pliant conformity.
Photographer Olivia Bucks of The Oregonian captured a shot of one Nathan Breithaupt of Portland, Ore., last week cheering at headquarters for that state's anti-gay-marriage initiative as results began to show that things were going his way. Whoop it up while you can, Nathan. Go have a beer on me, kid. Several years from now, when you're soiling your Dockers and complaining to the attendant at the nursing home that nobody makes shows like JAG anymore, gays and lesbians will have successfully expanded the notion of what it means to live and love in this country. That photo of your celebration will still be defining you as someone forever stuck in the past.