Sometimes you can be moving complacently through your usual routine when a piece of writing grabs you by the collar and slaps you right back into the brisk, bracing immediacy of life. Occasionally, it's just some rich Hollywood hooey making the online rounds: "He grabs me, and he slams me up against the wall and kisses me," Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly says of his love scene with Heath Ledger in the upcoming gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain. "And then I grab him, and I slam him up against the wall, and I kiss him. And we were doing take after take after take." Even though I know this item is probably the work of a crafty PR person, it's the kind of information that will inspire me to spend at least a full week's worth of real contemplative quality time by myself.
But it wasn't the thought of Jake and Heath violently Frenching that stopped me in my tracks last week. No, it was the vigorous letters I received in response to my recent column warning the 11 states that passed anti–gay marriage initiatives to expect an aggressive anal exploration that'll turn proctologists green with envy. The homos will not be dainty from here out, I said, in our quest for equality. My, how the kids of the conservative persuasion sat right down on their minds and fired off a word or two.
"It's so refreshing to hear a true queer speak its mind," chirped Ron. "Your rights are nonexistent and contrived. You state that 'what happens in the bedroom is no one else's business,' yet you scream to the masses in your whiny-assed voice to let the same be legal in public. Your cause is doomed to failure."
Ron, baby, I have never requested that anyone be left out of the loop about my bedroom business. In fact, if I could make it a legal requirement that you be forced to watch what I was doing during Smallville last week, I would.
"Please do as you have threatened," begged Dan. "It will make the marginalization of the homosexual privileges movement complete. If you prefer to live a deviant lifestyle—and homosexuality IS a fringe deviant lifestyle, the wishful thinking of cooked Kinsey stats notwithstanding—well, Americans are disposed to live and let live, even though 90 percent of us see it as an affliction at best."
Hey, keep your hands off Kinsey, little man, and stick to perverts with a pulse—90 percent of us are more than ready to expand the margins (the other 10 percent will be available as soon as they get back from the Gap).
What exhilarates me most about the e-mails is the quality that most news organizations refuse to notice in their coverage of the "red state" hurrahs: that the victory cries sound suspiciously like the last gasps of a dying breed. If the homosexual movement is doomed, why the defensive ballot measures in the first place? If an overwhelming percentage of Americans are confident in their heterosexual supremacy, why are they all huddled around the marriage issue like homeless people over a trash-can fire? Such feedback makes me thankful this season to remember almost 50 years ago, when there were only nine black students battling the voices of a thousand or so gathered outside a school in Little Rock. Guess who won.