Inside every American there is a president waiting to come out. So it would seem from former Prez Jimmy Carter’s recent statements. I find this open-for-all attitude rather patronising in a subtle way. It also assumes that the top post validates a section of society that the candidate represents. This is not quite true, for even within those segments there are hierarchies. Besides, the person who holds the position is supposed to represent all of the country and not just where s/he came from, so to speak. It might be added that no person is just one aspect and, therefore, cannot be reduced to a cause or a race or a sexual orientation.
So, is the US ready for a gay president? And why would that be so important? He said in a recent interview:
“I think the entire population of America has come tremendous strides forward in dealing with the issue of gays. And I would say that the answer is yes. I don’t know about the next election, but I think in the near future…The country is getting acclimated to a President who might be female, who might obviously, now be black and who might be, as well, a gay person.”
This is just so simplistic, especially his “obviously”. How would a black female gay person be different in the White House? The very fact that this is emphasised reveals a lack of real change. A woman in a powerful position is seen as masculine in so many ways; in many countries, including the UK, she is called the only man in the cabinet. She has to play tougher and get a macho act together. I can well imagine a gay person’s sexuality will be up for scrutiny and will therefore begin to sound almost asexual. I can bet you won’t have an Oval office blue dress/tie situation. As for blacks, we have seen how white it can be, not to speak of how forgetful of origins.
Has it altered how the blacks in certain parts of the country are viewed? I will leave the world aside for now, and it might well be worse in many other parts. People need laws, but more important than that is they need to go out and mix around. A totem is just that. S/he does not change the way things are at the grassroots. I don’t think peanut farmers really benefited from Mr. Carter’s presidency.
Rather unthinkingly, he likened the issue of homosexuality to the race issue 50 years ago. There is an important difference – one is a choice, however natural it may for the person, the other is inherited, ingrained and leaves one with being branded for ancestry, colour, culture, subjugation and all it stands for. There are occasions when both are socially ostracised, but racism of this kind has lent itself to putting people way behind in education, in work, in social settings.
Gays and blacks are ostracised and there are protest avenues for both, but I have not seen the equivalent of ‘gay pride’ marches for blacks in the US.
The issue, however, is not what category the president is from, but how the individual understands the needs of all kinds of people to the extent is humanly possible with all frailties intact but prejudices leashed!