In 1995, I was living in the foothills outside of Sacramento. I was dabbling in the idea of doing something with my writing and going through that psychosis all writers experience- Am I any good? How do I know? Who will read it? Why won’t they read it? So, I stumbled upon MGW Newspaper- which stands for “Mom Guess What”. For those in the six to ten percent range we know those are the feared words we practice ushering to our parents when we come out to them. MGW was owned and run at the time by Linda Birner. An incredible woman who devoted her life to bringing awareness to the ignorant masses, helping gay people to live without fear or discrimination. Linda told me she could use a good writer but she couldn’t pay me- but she could offer me all the reading material I could stomach- if I would write a review on what I read. I remember staring at the table in her printing room and seeing over one hundred books either on gay issues or by gay authors. The term “outing” had been in the news lately and so when I eyed the bright blue book it pulled me in instantly. Anything in current events has always been my addiction.
Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence by Warren Johansson, MA and William A Percy, PhD. What a phenomenal read. I bring it to mind today because this book is timeless. At least it is for me and people like me who seem to be fighting an uphill struggle against ignorance. When I say ignorance I refer to any thought or action that is lacking knowledge- and in today’s world of rapid and advanced technologically driven communication it is amazing how lazy we have become when it concerns the education of the mind and heart. Outing was written as a historical reference to the ongoing practice of discrimination against homosexuals through the ages, despite the fact that historically- homosexuals have been an active and often an accepted “subgroup” of almost every modern society. But we are the dirty little secret that gets pushed under the rug whenever civil rights are discussed. Johansson and Percy did an incredible job of showing that people’s sexual fears have for centuries and continue still to keep homosexuals as the only “openly acceptable” discriminated people.
This is evident this past week when President Elect Obama invited Reverend Warren to give his invocation. Obama’s excuse is that he is trying to keep an open dialogue with all sides. I am not the only one to highlight that he would not have invited that dialogue if the person openly disgraced Jews, or blacks, or Italians or disabled. Hate is hate. Reverend Warren continues to compare homosexuals to pedophiles. Does Reverend Warren have a deep sexual fear? I am betting he does.
So, as I watched these events unfold this past week I thought back to the book I reviewed and the brilliant scholars who put it together and I wondered where they were now? I was saddened to find that Warren Johansson had passed away shortly after Outing was published in 1994. But, William A Percy, bless his heart just celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday and is still teaching at the University of MA in Boston. He has a website that he dedicates to dispelling ignorance and fears against homosexuals and his academic credentials are worthy of an appointment to Obama’s cabinet; oh, but President- Elect Obama didn’t appoint any gay people to his cabinet. Hmm.
Lest I be accused of not supporting Obama, I do. I still have hope and am quite pleased and relieved that he will be our next president. But, just like putting a drop of red in a white bucket of paint will forever change the pristine white; choosing someone who carries the slightest bit of ignorance or hate or fear based rhetoric to be a part of your space- will forever taint that purity that you asked us to believe in, Mr. President -Elect. I hope it was worth it.