Monday, January 19, 2009

The Awakening of a Dumb (Gay) American

by Charles Winecoff

Having never been big on the holidays, I decided to do something different this past Christmas. Instead of sending fruit-of-the-month baskets to family and friends, I made gift donations to, the grassroots watchdog group, founded by Lebanese-American Brigitte Gabriel that keeps an eye on the spread of Islamic supremacy and jihad here in the US.

Yes, Virginia, there is a jihad. I was pretty sure all Americans were aware of that.

But I quickly learned that the topic has basically become taboo here in the civilized world – kind of like the way homosexuality used to be before people fought back. Despite the fact that we are currently at war with Islamic extremists who are fervently devoted to annihilating the Great Satan (that’s you and me), I received two reactions for the donations I made.

One was silence. No perfunctory thank yous, just cold-as-a-morgue-slab silence. Apparently, such a gift didn’t deserve an acknowledgment. We don’t talk about those things.

The other was anger – please remove us from the mailing list immediately – upsetting to someone like me, who takes disapproval very hard. (For the record, did not automatically add anyone to their mailing list, but simply sent out brochures about the organization.)

Of the two reactions, I preferred the anger; it seemed healthier, gave me something to respond to, and got me thinking. I realized I had to come out of the closet – again. The first time was in 1977, when, as a teenager, I had to cope with the fact that I was gay. Luckily, I lived in New York City, where gay people were visible and vocal. So as scared as I was, at least I knew I wasn’t alone.

But here in L.A., in 2008, it occurred to me that I might be alone. Still, the cat was out of the bag. I realized I couldn’t pass anymore as a good Left-leaning homo. The camouflage had worn thin. So I wrote an open letter to my friends and family. History certainly does repeat itself, doesn’t it? I share my second coming out with you here.


Dear friends,

I probably should have done this a long time ago, but it has been too convenient (though hardly easy) to simply keep my mouth shut and try not to displease people or get myself into “trouble” in so-called polite society. I’ve always been a people pleaser, constantly changing my opinion to suit others - and frankly, most of the time, I’ve actually been afraid of saying what I really think. But I’m pushing 50 now, I’ve been through a lot – as we all have - and I simply cannot do it anymore.

I am gay and I am American. I didn’t choose either, but those are the facts. I have spent a lifetime working hard to overcome guilt and fear about being gay – and in my lifetime, I have seen a lot of progress in our society regarding the acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships. No matter what obstacles gay people have faced, and no matter who was President, things have always moved forward. That’s a good thing, and at this late stage in my life I see that America is one of few places on earth where that is possible. A lot of people who do not live here are well aware of America as a place of change. But it has taken me all these decades to understand and appreciate how unique and special that is in this world.

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