Some books you love right away.
This one opens with a weekend on an English estate. I meet an ingenue that I’ll call “Jillian.” She eagerly awaits the arrival of her college brother, “Henry.” And his friend, “Garrard.” (Picture hearts floating in the air here.)
Not only am I enchanted by Jillian, but by the way the author weaves emotion into every line of dialogue. He tells me what Jillian hopes for as she walks past the rosebush. He tells me whether her hopes are dashed or whether she finds something new to hope for.
Not many pages in, I pick up on the homo-erotic hints. Yes, Henry and Garrard have eyes only for each other.
There are a lot of lusty books one can get through with some judicious skipping. But these guys just keep heading into the woods for frolic after frolic.
And then there’s poor Jillian, for whom I already have loads of fellow feeling. She has no clue what the boys are up to. This hits me in an especially sore spot.
And I close the book. I admire the author, oh so much. But I’m angry.
So we’re not going to talk about books today.
We’re going to talk about sore spots.
My husband’s work occasionally sends us on some cool trips. Recently we found ourselves at a Marriott resort that we could never in our lives afford, mixing in with all the other strivers in his company. We relaxed by the pool, sampled a few restaurants, picked a spa treatment or two.
And we attended the parties.
We studied up on who was who by thumbing through the booklet of employees. We learned their names, their faces, their years of service and their hobbies. And their spouses.
Same-sex marriage is alive and well at my husband’s company.
At the final to-do, husband and I appeared at the pre-dinner happy hour. I scanned the room and, thanks to all my homework, recognized a few people.
I saw one of the gay couples, male. They chatted with a blonde woman and her husband. I guessed her age at somewhere around 30. Petite. Cute. Pledged a good sorority in college, I’ll bet. Loves showing up at work, I’ll bet. Got the husband, the job, possibly a house bigger than she needs. I think life was going well. That night certainly went well as she held her drink and laughed along with this couple.
We moved into another ballroom for dinner.
She stuck close to the guys. It looked like she really, really, wanted to end up at the same table with them.
I’m still trying to guess why. Here’s what I come up with:
1) She works with one of them. They are familiar. Parties are easier when you stick with the people you know. (But then, what’s alcohol for?)
2) She’s curious. Maybe after she gets them to talk about their favorite restaurants, she can find out a little more about “what it’s like.”
3) They are the coolest thing in the room. In another time and place, people might gather around the dude that swam the English Channel or the gal that invented the self-squeezing mop and got rich from it. But today, this is what’s cool.
4) She wants to display her tolerance. Look everybody, I have no problem with this. There’s a term for it: virtue signaling.
5) She finds common cause. Gays are an oppressed class. Women are an oppressed class. I understand how it is, fellas. Let’s stick together.
I notice she didn’t hang out with the lesbian couples.
Maybe she feels the same way this man’s wife feels. “Ron” made a list of all the reasons his wife cries. “She found out swans can be gay and thought it was nice.”
Let’s go back to the matter of common cause. In this interview, Gloria Steinem and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg describe the difficulties they faced as they forged through college, then attempted to establish careers. The barriers were real. At the time, the message from men was: 1) We don’t want you around and 2) we’ll never let you in on the secrets.
Justice Ginsberg makes the common cause argument about 75% down the page.
1) equality of opportunity, or no more struggles like the ones Steinem and Ginsburg fought;
2) full freedom for gays–to be themselves, to marry and what-not;
3) and knowing
her Mother in Heaven. No, scratch that. The problem these days with Mother in Heaven is that she might just be a submissive wife, so the really fair thing would be a heaven in which our “’gendered cultural baggage’ will not continue through the eternities and thusly does not require a gendered God.”
What??!! Said I. You actually find this appealing??
(If you skipped those links, you are going to be lost. You really need to check them out.)
Yes. Erase gender. That will solve all the unfairness.
Some people always go for the structural solutions, as opposed to the hard work of a) learning to understand people and b) assembling their own trick-bag of work-arounds for when they understand people all too well.
But back to the book. Henry and Garrard keep sneaking off to the woods. They are, presumably, making headway on this new world, wherein we have abolished all that unfairness.
So how’s it going for Jillian?
Well, the message from the men is 1) We don’t want you around and 2) We’ll never let you in on the secret.
Eventually Jillian will figure it out. I wish I could be there to see how she takes it, but . . . did I mention the part about constant frolics in the woods?
So I feel stung on her behalf.
That was my original, visceral, unedited reaction when I first heard about homosexuality. Reading only a few pages of this book brought it all back to me.
So this isn’t a post about what causes gayness and this isn’t a post about how to fix the unfairness gays have suffered.
But this is a post about people who think making the world better for gays makes it better for all of us.
I just don’t see it.
Oh, did I neglect to mention the name of this book?
Nah, that wasn’t neglect.
Here, I’ll give you two recipes to make up for getting nothing to read.