The Walking Wounded


What is there to say about the rash of stories about desperate or conflicted or tormented gay men that came out in the press while I was on vacation? I think there is this to say: the fact of the matter is that a small percentage of humankind is attracted emotionally and sexually to the same gender in exactly the same way that the overwhelming majority is attracted emotionally and sexually to the opposite gender. We do not know exactly why this is; but we do know that it is. It is the truth. It is reality. The notion that it can be somehow expunged from reality is a delusion. This much we now know. The question is simply what we will do about it.

This latter question is worthy of debate. I made my case for maximal freedom, minimal government and formal equality in all relevant political and civil matters here. But what seems to me unworthy of debate is that gay people somehow do not exist and are not fully human the way heterosexuals are human.

The sheer reality is that they have hearts and souls; and they have families and belong to families; their loves and lives are well-known to all heterosexuals because being human is already known to all heterosexuals. And yet homosexuals have historically been told - and are still being told in much of the world - that they are not fully human, that their love is somehow sick, and that while they come from families, they can never form their own. At an emotional and spiritual and psychological level, the sheer crippling pain this denial of gay humanity has caused to so many for so long is incalculable. If there is anything un-Christian, the imposition of this cruelty and the perpetuation of this pain is un-Christian - and the damage still continues its path of destruction in families, societies, institutions and human psyches.

The reason I can't quite find it in me to attack gay hypocrites or closeted men or prostitution-seeking priests is because I can't quite attack an already destroyed and devastated psyche and soul.

Something restrains me - an impulse against cruelty perhaps, or a sense that that could have been me, if I had not somehow found the strength to be myself or been unable to accept the humiliation of the closet. And what further injury could gay activists bring, after all, to Larry Craig than the injury of simply being Larry Craig? Or Ted Haggard? Or Charlie Crist?

And when we find a young famous person driven to suicide because of this, we should remember all those not so famous, who kill themselves for this reason, alone, all the time, or those who, in far greater numbers, simply die a little every day inside themselves. Because they have built a wall around themselves outside the livable ways of being human.

Because, for so long, their own governments and their own families have told them that they do not, and never will, belong.

Because they could not find a way to believe that God loves them as they are and that God is not the same as the current leaders of organized, fundamentalist religion.

(Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty.)