Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thoughts on Gay Pride Month

Dear Hannah,

This morning I was informed that we've stumbled into a month of gay pride, which led me to ask a lot of uncomfortable questions about the sanity of the American public.  I asked -- for instance -- whether there might be any really good reason why Memorial Day was a memorial for only a day, and whether there might be any really good reason why men having sex with men is more important than my great uncle Bob*, who was killed fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.  And the answer, so far as I can tell, is that my great uncle Bob only died trying to protect us from invasion.   Or in other words, he was only in the Army.  He did not sing In The Navy.

To avoid confusing my position, I wouldn't even want to tout Uncle Bob for an entire month, and I wouldn't want to do it because I wouldn't want to get tired of talking about him. We can only handle serious reverence for short periods of time before even thankfulness becomes obnoxious; and beside this is a historical fact, that the only people who've successfully engineered meaningful public holidays for more than a week have done it for especially religious purposes (and most of us can agree that gayness fails to inspire us religiously).  Worthy of first mention is Lent, in which Christians spend a month getting themselves right by fasting and prayer and penance before celebrating the resurrection; followed later by twelve days of Christmas, which seems more reasonable (despite the weighty subject matter) to the respecter of attention spans.  The Jews are more moderate, in that Hanukkah never lasted any more than eight days -- all devoted to the miraculous survival of their race.  And to top all this off we have the Muslims, who teach themselves over the duration of an entire month that they’re capable of resisting their bodily urges.  

And then there are gay pride month and black history month and all the months about all the things apparently more important than religion and independence and war heroes and labor movements.  To any really sensible man, this appears not only a reversal of importance, but a reversal of purpose.  And I say this because, if you happen to be perceptive enough about the root of all of these old holidays and holy weeks and festive months, they weren't only about the things that built our societies and defeated our enemies and gave us hope about eternity; they were really about doing things in general.  In a certain sense, you might almost say that all our old holidays were about civic virtues and propagating a cohesive national or religious identity; the newer ones, about the things we really don’t have any control over.  The former is about purpose; the latter about accident.  In other words, it seems only right to thank Alan Turing for breaking Nazi codes and creating the computer -- and not only right, but maybe better categorized under, say, a month generally devoted to wartime heroes.  What it seems wrong to do, is to bring up Turing primarily for liking men on a month devoted only to men who happened to devote themselves to men.

And this is the problem with months like Gay Pride Month.  Not that one celebrates Alan Turing, but that Alan Turing gets a month because he's gay and not because he's a defender of Western Civilization.  It forces us to mention all kinds of miscellaneous minorities and desperately comb their cobwebbed catacombs for somebody -- anybody, really -- who may have contributed anything to our society.  It doesn't ask who built our society.  It doesn't ask who gives us spiritual hope.  It doesn't ask who defended us from what could have been total ruin.  It spends days teaching about irrelevant things like the Harlem Renaissance, wasting our valuable hours and limited attention spans which could have been better used on men like James Madison.  Very few Americans have read The Federalist.  Far more of them have been acquainted with Elton John.  Understanding one of these men is essential to the survival of our republic; the other man is superfluous.  James Madison is ignored; Elton John is remembered, if not for the genius of his music, then perennially for the notoriousness of his buggery.

The other aspect which bores anyone of good taste about these months is that most Americans are neither black nor gay, and it’s impossible for them to do anything about it.  Most Americans are Christians (even if some are bad ones), most Americans are white (even if they're ashamed of it), and most Americans are proud to be Americans (except when they belong to the Democratic Party).  And I suppose this is the point of the month in the first place: to point out that some great (or somewhat great) men were gay or black.  But if we have to be told for a month by the government that gay and black men are worth celebrating, my initial instinct is to become suspicious that many of them aren't.  In other words, maybe the reason gay men get a month and our mothers only get a day is because someone is having a hard time wondering why we don't appreciate gay men like we appreciate our mothers.  And that is because this someone is an idiot.

And this frantic scurrying for the hidden hero brings us to the most glaring aspect of the entire issue, which is that most of the greatest acts of Western heroism, most of the greatest thoughts ever put onto paper, the overwhelming majority of the greatest economic and military and socio-political triumphs of global history have been made by white men, straight men, and Christians.  Simply put, we have to have gay and black months because there aren't any George Washingtons or Samuel Johnsons or John Lockes or even Jim Sinegals in our gay or black history -- men who really shaped and defined and benefited us as a whole, or even benefited the majority.  Africa and our black neighborhoods are a backward mess.  The greatest tribute to gay history is the most celebrated historical book second to the Bible, Plutarch's Lives, which concerns ancient Greece and Rome.  The only civilizations even comparable to Western civilizations are Asian civilizations, and they have only become comparable as they have become more comparably Western.  And if this goes to prove anything, it's that we've gotten everything backwards.  Instead of extending a hand to minorities and saying you could be our next Ben Franklin, we've extended a hand to whites and Christians and said you could be like this man you never would have known if he hadn't been a minority.  And we've kept our hands extended for an entire month, which leads not only to sore arms, but eventually to duller brains.

The great problem with our approach to minorities is that we've been celebrating everything except the men who built Western Civilization.  We keep reaching for tiny stories -- sometimes interesting but oftentimes isolated and irrelevant -- and hoping that by focusing on the fringes, that we can somehow corral everyone into camaraderie.  And history will teach us that we are very wrong.  The best way to bring us brotherhood is not by celebrating accidental differences.  It is uniting even the fringes to the majority in the civic and religious virtues that every sensible person finds worthy of celebration.  

Your father,

*Great uncle Bob: KIA, Philippines; April 10, 1945.  19 years old.


  1. Great article. My uncles in WWII were Max and Dave.

  2. Excellent points which I'd never really considered. A day for dear old mom but a month for her hairdresser. Nice. I don't see this turning out well for the majority of us. As Ayn said: "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." I believe that is exactly what America is doing right now, avoiding reality. But it will catch up with us.