Making a Big Deal So Someday We Won’t Have To.

Side note:  I have been roasting chickens on and off for about a year now, trying to find a couple of processes that work reliably.  I found one involving the “traditional” method of a roasting pan, rack, and a boatload of rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  That works out fine.  I’m also exploring the alternate broiled “butterfly” chicken, recommended by my culinary hero, Alton Brown.  (For those who don’t know him, think what would happen if Julia Child and Mr. Wizard had a son.)  Getting the timing and the temperature just right is still eluding me … but there’s plenty more chicken where that came from.  Worst case, I’ll throw this one in a soup.

EDIT:  just ate.  Was perfect. Still needs some refinements, but the jus was awesome.  Anyway, on with the countdown. Yesterday pretty much every major news outlet was going on about Jason Collins coming out as a gay athlete, and I have to admit I was confused as to why anyone cared … until I realized that he’s the first active male professional athlete in a sport we care about.  As cynical as I’m making that sound, it’s actually kind of a big deal ( … with apologies to Brittney Griner, a lesbian pro women’s basketball player who did it first).

Groundbreaking, yes, but it should
not be such a big deal.

“I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew,” he writes. “And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.”

Response to his announcement was about what you’d expect.  MBA commissioner David Stern and GLAAD’s Aaron McQuade applauded his bravery for coming out, citing it along with his record as an athlete as reason for considering him a strong role model for LGBT professional sports players.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer also weighed in, commenting that it was sad that people even have to talk about their sexuality at all and that it should be a private matter.  I agree; this shouldn’t be a big deal.  There should be a collective shrug and yawn from the press and the general public.  The problem is that given where we are right now in the context of public discourse, it’s not right now.  People in the LGBT community are still being treated as second class citizens by law or by public opinion, with a significant percentage of politicians fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way using religion as a convenient excuse for their bigotry and fear.

We’re at a point in our society when it’s more important to make a big deal of coming out because it’s a self-perpetuating phenomenon; the more big names come out, the more confident average folks might feel about doing the same.  Whether social conservatives and the “deeply religious” want to acknowledge it or not, homosexuality exists, it’s not harmful, and “the children” are fine … so it’s about time we come to terms with it as a modern society and grow up a little.

And, as if to provide a textbook case for why it’s so important to make a big deal of it, we have a GOP staffer in Washington State offering up this advice for victims of business owners who don’t feel like providing goods and services to the LGBT community:

Last week, Washington state Sen. Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick) introduced Senate Bill 5927, which would allow businesses in the state to deny services to individuals based on religious or philosophical differences. The bill was created as a response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed against a florist in Richland, Wash., who had refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding and cited religious objections to homosexuality.

(As a side note, “philosophical differences” could possibly translate to “I just don’t like black people”.  Careful what you guys put into law.)

Currently, Washington state law forbids businesses from refusing services or goods to customers because of sexual orientation.

On Friday, Jay Castro, a reader of Seattle-based blog The Stranger called up one of the bill’s co-sponsors, state Senator Mike Hewitt’s (R-Walla Walla), to ask why he was supporting the bill. Castro asked a staffer at Hewitt’s office a simple question: “What are rural gays supposed to do if the only gas station or grocery store for miles won’t sell them gas and food?” The staffer, who refused to identify himself, reportedly told Castro that if such a scenario were to unfold, “gay people can just grow their own food.”

It’s this kind of crap that makes pushing the issue of homosexuality into the public spotlight so important.  I know, tough talk from a straight guy.  Still, the fact that there are people in positions of power (or who work for them) who think that someone’s bigotry supersedes another person’s right to fair treatment or service simply because they can hide behind the label of “religious freedom” means that sexuality can’t be a “private” matter until attitudes like this are shoved into the closet where they belong so we can finally move into the 21st century.

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