To the next person who describes same-sex relationships and generally being gay as a recent fad or hipster trend, please take a seat. Sit next to the people who protest weddings of same-sex couples; in front of the men who refuse to treat women and girls with respect; and across from employers who have yet to hire a person of color. You all are in need of a history lesson.
South Carolina’s State House recently defunded two of its universities as a punishment for their inclusion of LGBT authors on an optional summer reading list. As a sort of disillusioned and highly problematic punishment for including LGBT-themed reading material, monies once appropriated to the funding of these books has gone to financing a required history lesson about the United States and its founding documents.
I’m not too hopeful about what a history course mandated to encourage the erasure of LGBT folks from that history looks like – but I know it’s wrong. Aside from the offensive and burdensome requirement that students to have to sit through yet another class about cisgender white men and their brilliant ideas about ownership of people and land that at no point actually belonged to them, this move adds insult to injury by doing so in order to deny the role LGBT people have played in the course of American history (and the overall history of human events).
I cannot (and will not) assert when/where the first same-sex (or even different sex) encounter occurred. Nevertheless, knowing this information would quiet many conservative voices who have more recently expressed their disapproval of same-sex marriage and literature.
South Carolina’s decision to censure gay experiences echoes the same anti-gay rhetoric that came before it. A year ago, Mike Huckabee, to no one’s real surprise, recited a soliloquy including the quote: “I respectfully believe I am on the right side of history, because the history is pretty long on marriage between a man and a woman; not so much for other versions.” He ended his speech by comparing same-sex marriage to what he would recognize as acts of depravity.
I question very seriously Huckabee’s claim. Despite Huckabee’s age, I doubt he was around to witness a revolutionary discovery of same-sex sexual activity; the practice has existed for quite some time and most certainly did before our country’s founding. To deny same-sex-attracted folks their due space in our country’s history due to a completely misguided understanding of natural events is not okay.
What is most perverse about his rhetoric is that Huckabee uses a very explicit definition of marriage that has for centuries excluded people of difference. Not everyone is born with the right to marry whomever they choose: for many, this right is impeded by citizenship, class and socioeconomics, religion, race, or gender expression.
The “right side” of history is not on the side mandating to students who read LGBT-themed novels that they must complete a course to remind them of the supremacy and privilege of straight white men. The right side of history is acknowledging that LGBT folks have existed since the dawn of sexuality, and have also participated in the practice of monogamy and institution of mutual support called marriage. To say that same-sex attraction is the latest trend is about six thousand years too late.