We're here, we're queer 

And we're your friends and family.

THE MESSAGE: We're people, too.
  • THE MESSAGE: We're people, too.
We're hearing a lot today from Arkansans, out at the legislature and through the ballot box, about homosexuals. We're hearing that they're different from the heterosexual majority in more ways than their style of lovemaking. They are, lawmakers have suggested this session of the General Assembly, a bad influence on children, so they must not be allowed to adopt or foster them. Their desires to wed are a clear threat to the institution of marriage — might even lead to bestiality — so voters made sure they couldn't, by defining marriage as strictly a man-woman thing in last fall's referendum on Amendment 3 to the state Constitution. Now, homosexuals — and others whose relationship is “substantially similar” to marriage — cannot enjoy the benefits the state confers on wedded couples. Legislators know that Arkansas has more foster children than families who'll foster them. They must know too that children have been raised by homosexuals since the dawn of time, a fact that has left no discernable ill effect. Voters know that people who marry enjoy certain privileges, such as tax breaks, property rights or the ability to enter an intensive care unit when a loved one is sick. They must know that by denying gay people the power to marry and have a family, they are creating a category of people — like felons — who are second-class. Is it possible that what they don't know is that among their friends and family are homosexuals with long-time partners and children? In the gay community, the word “family” is used to describe its members. “She's family” means “she's a lesbian, too.” But all families — my family and your family, our blood relatives and godparents and in-laws — include individuals who are gay. And you and I know that they are no more promiscuous, unbalanced, perverted, incompetent or evil than our straight kin. If legislators and voters who think all gay men lisp and spend their nights in bars, and all gay women coach softball, got to know some people who are gay, would it change the way they think? Would experience trump prejudice? But the Bible, you protest. The Old Testament and St. Paul — as King James' interpreters read the ancient language of scripture — say man can't lie with man, etc. Yet, these same holy laws also command us not to eat pork or wear no-iron cotton/polyester blends. So is it cynical to wonder if at least some folks out at the Capitol and in the poll booth are using holy writ to excuse a prejudice formed in the absence of sword drills on Leviticus? (Knowing their audience, pornographers targeting the heterosexual male audience always trot out female coupling. One has to wonder: If only women were homosexual, would legislators and congressmen be putting up such a fuss? At any rate, they could say, rightly, that the Bible is silent on lesbianism.) When the Times put the word out that it would like to do a photographic story that would let gays and lesbians talk about their lives, my e-mail was swamped with volunteers, more than we had space for in the paper. The volunteers — some of whom were only out to their families — wanted to go public, to explain that they are discriminated against in ways you might not know. That they can be fired from their jobs, booted from their apartments, lose custody of their children, all because of their sexuality — desires not chosen but inborn, often recognized since childhood, even before they understood what their feelings meant. What's it like to grow up gay? Ty Stacey, daughter of a Mormon mother in Arkadelphia, turned to drinking at 18 because she could not accept herself. Courage came, but not from the bottle, and today, she said, she's learning to “love myself.” Karmen Hopkins knows what it's like to lose custody because a child can't have two mothers. Businessman Paul Dodds had to leave his lover in Germany; no green cards for partners. His anger over Amendment 3 and its discriminatory goal helped him get before the camera. Alma Beck, an Episcopal priest, clings to the belief that “a lot of people who voted [for Amendment 3] didn't know what it did.” She said life has been “hell this past year. Being gay is not like ‘Will and Grace.' ” And she hopes the straight community will work with the gay community on what she calls an “issue of justice.” Delight native Angela Frazier and her partner, Rebecca, worship at the United Methodist Church of Maumelle because there they “don't have to be dishonest about who we are.” They turn to God for direction and believe they have His blessing. Some people we interviewed could not reveal their partners for fear of costing them their jobs. Randi Romo, an activist who created the “We the People” art project that put gay people's stories — and sometimes their pictures — on cardboard triangles mounted on posts, still wants to reconcile with her mother. Jada Walker, a health care researcher, wants the state legislature to “know us and call us for information,” to offer them voices they're not now hearing. The more who'll stand with them, the more they'll be heard, she said. Kathy Webb, the head of the Stonewall Democratic Club chapter in Arkansas, recalled a time when gays and lesbians wore sacks over their heads when they marched in Little Rock for equal rights. The sacks are off; photographer Brian Chilson and I approached our subjects with admiration for their courageous — possibly dangerous — decision to appear on these pages. We were shocked and gratified at the heartfelt thanks we got from our volunteers. Thank you for letting us come out and tell our stories, they said. You're welcome. Hey, you're family.

From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Fayetteville, Fenix and art-making on Saturday

    If you're in Fayetteville this weekend, you can drop in on several workshops being held by the Fenix Fayetteville artists' cooperative at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St. downtown.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • UALR artist Mia Hall is off to Penland: UPDATE

    The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina has announced the hiring of Mia Hall, of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, as its new director.
    • Jul 19, 2017
  • ACLU asks court to enjoin antiabortion bills

    Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked Judge Kristine Baker to grant an injunction against four laws passed this year by the General Assembly that would: * Make abortion after 15 weeks riskier by outlawing what the medical profession considers the safest procedure, dilation and evacuation; * Require doctors to inform local police when an abortion performed on a teenager age 14-16 absent any indication of abuse and that police create a record of the teenager's abortion and be provided the fetal remains; * Require abortion providers to ask women seeking an abortion if they know the sex of the fetus, and, if they do, obtain all of their previous obstetrical records to determine if they have a "history of aborting fetuses" of a certain sex, as the lawyer for the state said today in court. * Require notification of a woman's partner — or abuser — that she intends to have an abortion, ostensibly so they can agree on the disposition of the remains of the fetus.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation