Written by R. D. Balsa Friday, 04 November 2011 00:00
Fall leaves have begun to drape backyards across the city and another Halloween has come and gone. I have never been a big fan of this particular holiday, as I deem it a bit ridiculous to celebrate the opportunity to costume oneself as a giant baby or the back end of a horse. However, I do believe in “to each his own” and since the purpose of Halloween is to celebrate all things macabre, scary, horrifying and ghoulish, it never fails to bring to mind the concept of fear. Fear is a fascinating entity. It is one of those feelings that few of us enjoy, yet many of us are secretly drawn to. How else would one explain the overwhelming success of the lengthy list of horror films that have surpassed even Hollywood's expectations in the last thirty or so years?
As a gay man, however, when I consider the notion of fear, it takes on a whole different meaning and significance. For the gay community, fear has never been optional, humorous or something we look to for a cheap, quick thrill. The fact is that for the better part of the twentieth century, fear was the number one determining variable in any and all life-altering decisions for most gay men. Fear of being 'outed' often led them to lead double, disingenuous lives. Fear of not living up to familial expectations often led them to marry unsuspecting women only to find comfort in dark, seedy, alleys with other daring strangers. Sadly, the list goes on with one fearful example after another.
That was then, this is now. The new millennium has brought with it a rather interesting turn of events when it comes to our relationship with fear. We have surged forward on the backs and sacrifices endured by those courageous, pioneering gay men and women and now enjoy what is, for the most part, acceptance and recognition within most social and personal realms. No longer does the average gay man feel shackled by the fear of being outed or being somehow rejected because of his sexual identity. In fact, quite the opposite is now the norm in most cases. Gay men and women are now coming out at such a young age, they may as well be wearing rainbow-colored diapers.
This is not to say that fear is dead, of course. Many gay men still struggle with acceptance and many still prefer the closet to the reality of life as a homosexual. But the fact is that the last twenty years has seen fear transition from gay oppressor and tormentor to the hatred-infused Ritalin served to the homophobic masses in order to keep them focused and on task. Fear of gays somehow tainting the institution of marriage keeps the ultra-religious pounding irreverently on pulpits across America. Fear that granting gays civil rights will mean having to grant civil rights to every Tom, Dick and polygamist, keeps the right-leaning media pontificating from dawn to dusk. All of it is a thinly-veiled, but heaping mound of ignorance, of course. And, we did learn a long time ago that one should never underestimate the power of ignorance.
© 2011 by R. D. Balsa. All Rights Reserved.