Ender’s Game comes out November 1. If you live in a cave, you may not be aware that this likely blockbuster is based on a classic 1985 sci-fi novel by Orson Scott Card. The movie version features Harrison Ford, copious digital effects, and a boycott.
Recently, a group of gay activists launched a Web site urging anyone who cares about same-sex marriage or gay equality to stay out of theaters. “By pledging to Skip Ender’s Game,” the group said, “we can send a clear and serious message to Card and those that do business with his brand of anti-gay activism—whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying.”
I have been advocating gay marriage and gay equality for more than 20 years, fighting many of the same stereotypes and slurs that have figured in Orson Scott Card’s nonfiction writing. So I understand why some equality advocates want to make a statement against Card. What I would like them to understand is why I hope they fail. In a roundabout but important way, bigoted ideas and hateful speech play an essential part in advancing minority rights. Even if we have every right to boycott Ender’s Game, gays are better served by answering people like Card than by trying to squelch or punish them.
Lately, people have been asking me why so much has happened in America, seemingly so suddenly, to advance gay equality generally and gay marriage specifically. It’s a good question, with some obvious answers. Demographics are one: younger people who are more relaxed about homosexuality are replacing older people who harbor long-standing prejudices. Also, as more gay people come out of the closet and live and love openly, we are no longer an alien presence, a sinister underground, a threat to children; we are the family down the block.