Beware Homophobes Bearing Pigs

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in News | No Comments

With this week’s state of the union address and all the progress in the last year or two on gay rights and the recent Boy Scout debates, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much public opinion is impacted by the Arts, perhaps more than politics.  Just as with race before it, the less open-minded in our society cannot turn on a sitcom without seeing that normal families are defined in lots of ways.  For decades we’ve stripped away at the fear and ignorance that characterizes homophobia, but it doesn’t take much digging to find that it still exists.

The Boy Scout debates are a big example.  There are decision makers and volunteers, people with the best intentions, that actually draw a parallel between homosexuality and pedophilia.  That’s the equivalent of saying I’m more likely to be a serial killer because I have straight hair.   But especially for people that  live in rural communities where they are less likely to have out gay friends or colleagues, the Arts have chipped away at public fear and ignorance.  From film, tv, music, comedy, lecture, we have shown that our gay brothers and sisters live day to day lives that no different than our own.  They are parents helping their kids with homework, and colleagues working towards a promotion that are no more defined by that 2% of their existence that happens behind closed doors than the rest of us are.  And yet, their rights in all aspects of their lives have been marginalized by people that simply aren’t aware of anyone different from themselves.   I applaud those Artists who smash the taboos and open hearts and minds.  And I applaud the politicians that are taking that tide of public opinion and stretching to fit our laws and our rights.

I remembered a short story I wrote at a beach about 15 years ago and thought I’d share.  Enjoy.

Today, I met a pig named Dinky on the beach.  He was rubber tire black and the texture of straightened steel wool, and was purportedly in a snappish mood.  If I were a black pig on the 92 degree beach in St. Petersburg, FL on the crowded 4th of July, I would be snappish too.  He made it to the water’s edge briefly but turned back to the park steps just in time to elude the beach patrol, no doubt in a snappish mood of their own.   Dinky found himself chained to a wooden sign at the beach entry that block lettered “No Dogs On Beach”.  That amused me.

His owner was a quiet man with white hair pulled back through a billed blue cap that sported no logo or palm tree or sailboat.  His hair and full white beard seemed the same texture as Dinky’s and the ponytail fluffed out to a big puff of cotton candy behind the hat, very un-Santa Clause-like despite all the whiteness and the pink cheeks.  In spite of their location near the tourist-filled Pier on the fourth of July, I figured them for locals.  There was no desperation to his barely browned skin and his sun-beaten hair texture and especially the lack of any festive tourist mecca emblem on his hat gave him away.  Besides, who would travel long distances with a pig in a bad mood.

I discovered they were from the smaller town of Spring Hill, FL and had sailed down from just an hour away for the fireworks.  He had carried Dinky in from one of the boats anchored off the beach.   Dinky’s owner bit off the ends of words like he was chewing a cigar.  From New York originally I learned, but I never got his name.   When I told him I had lived until recently in Delaware, he quickly volunteered,  “Aah, we used to go to Rehobeth Beach there, but now that’s where all the fairies are.”  Well, I immediately took him for a lost Irishman with a few nips under his belt.  It took a moment for my imagination to drift from unicorns and tinkerbell, and the amused smile to drop off my face.  In my naivety, it took a minute to discover he was simply a narrow homophobe.  Don’t let the progressive pet fool you.  So, I never bothered to get his name.

I quickly extricated myself from this nasty turn the conversation had taken.  I retired to my beach towel and fell asleep in my book and I dreamt a vivid blue-green dream of Ireland and leprechauns and pots of gold and nymphs skipping amongst the lilypads.  And in my dream, there were diaphanous winged faeries dancing about a fire where Mr. Fluffyhead roasted over a pit while Dinky looked on, leaning against a sign that said “No Idiots Allowed”, in a decidedly better mood!