Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thoughts on Gay Pride Month

Dear Hannah,

This morning I was told it's gay pride month, which led me to ask a lot of uncomfortable questions -- about the sanity of the American public.  I asked, for instance, why gays get a whole month when Memorial Day is only a day, and whether men having sex with men is more important than my great uncle Bob*, who was killed fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.  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 didn't sing In The Navy.

The truth is I wouldn't even want to tout Uncle Bob for whole 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 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 made public holidays for more than a week have done it for purposes of religion.  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.  

Then there's Gay Pride Month.  And Black History Month. All the months about all the things more important than religion and independence and war heroes and labor movements.  To any really sensible man this is all backwards.  He'd note that if you get to the root of all of these old holidays and holy weeks and festive months, they were really about doing things in general.  They were about the identity of the mass, not the identity of the part; and they were about the things that we did, not the things that happened to us.  The former is about purpose; the latter about accident.  

The problem with months like Gay Pride Month isn't that anyone 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 through their cobwebbed catacombs for anybody 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, when people don't even understand the importance of the actual Renaissance.

The other aspect which bores interesting people is that most Americans are neither black nor gay, and they can't be black or gay even if they try.  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're Democrats).  And I suppose this is the point of the month in the first place: to point out that some (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, the chances are they probably aren't.  It makes us wonder whether gay men get a month and our mothers only get a day because someone wants us to appreciate gay men as much as we appreciate our mothers. 

A flood of third-rate heroes can have an unintended consequence.  It can make us aware, perhaps more than ever before, 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.  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 -- no 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.

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.