A gay who had been out a few years (and this is the typical attitude) said, homosexuality is legal. What’s the big fuss about? We are allowed to have out own clubs. We are allowed to do anything sexually so long as we do it in private. Nobody loses his job unless he is a damnfool who blabs to his fellow employees that he is gay. I have too much to lose to march down Georgia street waving a pink banner in some silly parade.
Today we laugh at the Negro slave who asked, why you mad at Massa Charlie? He feeds us good. Tomorrow the statement by that gay will seem just as shallow and short sighted.
What do we gays want then? First of all we want an end to laws that discriminate against us. Even though sexual acts in private between consenting adults were legalized in august 1969, there are still a number of anti-homosexual laws on the books.
Note the in private. This means that if I hold hands with Ben in a public place I can we arrested for gross indecency.
Note the adult. If you or your partner are not both adults (in B.C. This means 17 or over, but in other provinces such as Ontario this means 21 or over) you can be charged with gross indecency or indecent assault. True, these charges are almost never laid, but the laws are still on the books. I feel the age of consent for boys should be 16 — the same as for girls.
There is a law that states you may not work for the crown if you are a homosexual. If you are gay you are not allowed to be a mailman; you are not allowed to work in the civil service; and you are not allowed to hold public office. This does not mean that there are no gays working for her majesty — a full 10% of her work force is homosexual, but these employees stand to lose their jobs if they are found out. At one time homosexuals were security risks because they were so susceptible to blackmail. But now blackmail is all but non-existent and so it is time this law was removed from the books.
Though policemen very rarely directly hassle us, they are not exactly eager to help us out should we get ourselves in trouble. One of Vancouver’s must public gays was attacked in the White Lunch Cafeteria. He went to the police station to lay assault charges. He told them the assailant’s name and where he could be apprehended. The police asked him for the assailant’s address. He told them that he had no fixed address. The police then informed him that no charge could be laid without an address.
When Frank Howes stole my typewriter, I told the police he would be headed for the American border. They refused to ask the border authorities to apprehend him.
Such examples show the public attitude that gays are second class citizens. It is very hard to fight a public attitude, but you can fight those institutions that shape the public attitude.
First of all we should push the church to remove the stigma of homosexuality by performing marriages for two men or two women. We should force the government to perform civil marriages for gays giving us the same income tax and inheritance rights that straight couples have. We should write angry letters every time a magazine or newspaper writes an article that depicts us as flighty creatures resplendent in bell bottoms. We should pressure the schools to remove the anti-gay propaganda films from the curriculum and in its place teach true sex education dealing honestly with the nature of our love, its beauty, its variations and its desecrations. We must force the schools to recognize the gay heritage. They must tell the students that Socrates, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were gay. They must tell them that Oscar Wilde, W.H. Auden, Edward Carpenter, E.M. Forster andré Gide, Marcel Proust, William Shakespear, Alfred Tennyson, James Baldwin and Jean Cocteau have written literature with gay themes. We must boycott any business that is known to fire employees if they are found to be gay.
We must support the growing number of psychiatrists who now realize that gays are not sick, against those old-line psychiatrists who support a social norm where a hero is a man who kills other men in war and a pervert is a man who loves another man. For too long we have been committed to mental hospitals and prisons to be experimented on with sex-drive reducing drugs. Too long have we been driven to suicide and saddled with guilt obsessions.
People only hate and fear what they do not understand. Three years ago I went to a movie in the old auditorium at UBC (University of British Columbia). Two lesbians sat in the seat in front of me. Part way through the show they put their arms around each other and kissed. I got so upset I had to run to the washroom where I threw up. But since that time I have come to know many lesbians and to understand their feelings too and now the sight of two girls kissing has just the opposite effect.
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