Jamie Oliver has apparently been trying to bring dietary rectitude to the fattest town in America, managing in the process to spark a near riot over the removal of french fries from a school menu (link). Wondering whether he had himself slimmed down for the exercise, or whether his own increasing girth risked breaking the back of his moral high horse, I set about googling the locus of his exploits, Huntington, West Virginia, and instead came across a prime example of one of the most egregious because charades: were anti-gay because were pro-family. Yes, its the family values lobby showing itself at its family-phobic worst. And just in time for Sydney Mardi Gras!
The scene: some locals are attempting to portray Huntington as more than a place obsessed with gay-bashing, obesity, donuts and gossip (link). Enter: Sheila! Sheila is part of the movement ... to protect our families and children from homosexuals. How does the movement achieve this protection? By making it legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Yes, in Huntington, families and children are protected because you can legally tell a homosexual no if they want to rent from you, do business with you or work for you. But dont think that Sheila is content to leave it to the movements friendly faces in local government to assure this. No armchair activism for her! She writes: As a matter of fact, I did have a gay son. Notice the past tense ... did. My husband and I cut our ties when he came out to use [sic] during his sophomore year in college. He was no longer welcome in our home or in our family.
So here are Sheilas family values in a nutshell: family matters so much to her that she has destroyed her own. The advocate of family values, and not her son, has chosen to regard flesh and blood as dead and gone. And the person who dismembered her own family sees her sons homosexuality as his cross to bear, when the only cross he bears is her reaction to it. Moreover, if any other family should embrace what she has expelled, Sheila would be there! If homosexuals are renting and, who knows?, providing health care to their mother or father, shell put a stop to that by making them homeless. Thats one more family fixed! If theyre working and, who knows?, contributing to the education of a brother or sister, shell put a stop to that by making make them jobless. Thats one more life improved! And if theyre self-employed and, who knows?, providing a niece or nephew with a model of hard work and honest endeavour, dont worry, shell make their business fold and put a stop to that, too. One more child protected!
So far as because charades go, this is one of the best. In a normal because charade, what follows because is simply unrelated to what goes before it: I cant be an atheist because science cant explain the origin of the universe says the person who never thinks about physics and so couldnt possibly base any belief on it can or cant explain. But the family values lobby go one better: what follows their because is the exact opposite of the real reason. What they should be saying is were anti-gay because were anti-family. For what could families and children more urgently need protection from than Sheila and her gang of friendly faces?
Its time to stop the family values lobby from destroying and dismembering families in the name of protection. Its time to stop them from ruining lives and wrecking relationships in the name of tradition. Time to stop them from bullying children and persecuting adults in the name of compassion. Its time to tell the truth: that anti-gay means anti-family and pro-family means pro-gay. And, if for nothing else, we should do this for Sheilas sake, and for the sake of the family in whose ruins she, like a misguided Samson, stands, denouncing her dead son in blindly fervent bewilderment.