Being, as I am, a dedicated listener of the Savage Lovecast – at it’s most inane it keeps my romantic brain sane – I was intrigued by Dan Savage’s claim that heterosexual people had been insulted by the Pope in his speech to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican on Monday January 9th. So I did some research.
Apparently the Pope said that gay marriage is a threat to the “future of humanity itself”, but a quick google search – ‘Pope gay marriage’ – revealed that the words ‘gay marriage’ were being put before the direct quotation: “[threatens] human dignity and the future of humanity itself”. The press, of course, are misleading us. I would guess that the Pope is very carefully not using the phrase ‘gay marriage’ so that no one can really call him on it, but reporting that the Pope has condemned gay marriage as the end of the human race is, in fact, incorrect. However, there is still an issue, which I would like to unravel.
We all know the Pope, by definition, opposes gay marriage; this is not news. But in this particular address he carefully and strategically avoided dealing with the issue of gay marriage directly at all. When considering the importance of the younger generation and their education, he said:
“[P]ride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
I believe the phrase “the marriage of a man and a woman” is just Pope lingo. This is what he is expected to say, and what he always will say. The word which jumped out at me here is “undermine”. This is a word US Republican politicians use a lot when discussing the effect of gay marriage upon the institution of marriage. It is also a word Savage quotes a lot. I think there may be a crossover here: Republicans use the word ‘undermine’ to forward policies which directly oppose gay marriage, and the word appeared in the Pope’s speech when discussing family and the two have been put together to form headlines such as “Pope: gay marriage threatens humanity’s future”.
I am not a fan of the Pope and while I think he is completely right that we need better education systems I am certain that my idea of good education is a far cry from his. Anyway, my contention, as always, is with the dishonesty of this reporting. Of course I expect it from the press and plenty of other people, some of whom I respect and admire – such as Savage, – but that doesn’t mean that because everyone’s misrepresenting, I’m going to let it slide. Truth and honesty are important.
Conversely, the fact that the Pope’s words can be interpreted or misread in this way is a problem in and of itself. Not to mention the fact that even if the Pope is being misunderstood, plenty of politicians are not. Many are perfectly direct about their opposition of gay marriage and the fact that it, apparently, “undermines the institution of marriage”*. So, returning to the title of this article, and my original point, even though we cannot quite take the Pope’s words as the press presents them, according to Savage, we heterosexuals** have still been attacked.
Savage reads the claim that “gay marriage threatens humanity” to mean that those particular Republicans(/the Pope) believe(s) everyone would be gay if gay marriage were legal. Otherwise why would they be worried? Well, I think this claim is skating on slightly thin ice; there are several other explanations that could be taken into account. Equally, Catholic politicians could be playing the Biblical morality card.
(By the by, I do very much enjoy the notion that people who are opposed to gay marriage because it will make the whole world gay are effectively admitting their own homosexual tendencies. But most of the time I don’t believe it. Too bad really. It’d be sweet justice if Santorum had to deal with santorum once in a while.)
For the sake of argument, and just in case Savage – who is usually very insightful and very well informed – is right, let’s pretend that’s exactly what happened: the Pope claimed that if gay marriage were legal we’d all be homosexual, and rampantly so.
Well, I can think of worse insults, but still, there are plenty of heterosexual people who simply don’t wish to be misrepresented. (Let’s not make this another article about the misuse of the word ‘gay’ as an insult.)
So, let’s defend ourselves and, while we’re at it, homosexuality as well. Legalising gay marriage is not going to make straight people gay. It just isn’t.
Being female and kinky and openly supportive of all combinations of people and sexual orientations, I get asked, a lot, if I’m bisexual. (I’m not.) In fact, I have been encouraged by boyfriends and lovers to embrace the tiny bit of flexibility I occasionally have and find a girl to get friendly with. If their encouragement and pleasure didn’t push me into the arms of women, legalising gay marriage definitely isn’t going to.
My second argument is a little strange, but just stick with me for a moment: I have friends who have a quality about them that means they often have to go out of their way to prove that they are heterosexual. I remember asking one friend, who has a lot of stereotypically gay traits and has to fend off a lot of male attention, if he was really straight and he simply raised his hands and went “Honey, look at me: if I were gay, I’d be gay.”. (Yes, I am aware that he was quoting something, but I forget what. Sex and the City? Anyway, my friend may have been quoting, but he meant it in earnest.) While people like him may be rare, they are also a good example of the fact that gay marriage isn’t going to suddenly push them out of the closet. No one (over the age of 16) would behave with such – for lack of a better word – flamboyance and claim to be heterosexual if they weren’t. He seems more gay than most homosexual people, but he isn’t. (Believe me.)
But let’s go a step further. Again, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that the whole world turns gay. What’s wrong with that? The argument is that a gay world is doomed to extinction, because if you’re gay you can’t procreate. What? Yes you can. We’re not facing a world bereft of two genders. If a woman can have a baby on her own, then the world can continue to have children irrespective of it’s sexual orientation. We are not facing a problem of extinction.
In fact, we are facing a problem of over-population. The world’s resources are being used up. The ozone layer is fucked because there are too many people consuming too much and generating too many poisonous emissions. Wouldn’t a few more (homosexual,) childless-by-choice couples be a saving grace? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the population of this planet could happily and peacefully begin to decline, just a little?
This entire argument, from almost every perspective, is utterly ridiculous. And it doesn’t take much more than two brain cells to rub together to think of a hundred ways to dispel these arguments. And yet we are still having them. THAT is a problem. The general stupidity and decisive ignorance of the world is why we are doomed and why we will never have the freedom we all claim to want.
Finally, and most importantly, it might not be a new issue, but here is a direct, full quotation that honestly did make me feel sick:
“More generally, and with particular reference to the West, I am convinced that legislative measures which not only permit but at times even promote abortion for reasons of convenience or for questionable medical motives compromise the education of young people and, as a result, the future of humanity.”
If anyone’s looking for a reason to hate the Pope, this is it. Both the issues of abortion and gay marriage are close to my heart, but I don’t believe that twisting words helps anyone, and the gay marriage fight might not be best fought here. The abortion issue, however, is wide open.
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*I know I have read direct quotations from people such as Rick Santorum saying exactly this, but I can’t find any. I hate to publish an article without evidence. Can anyone point me in the direction of a reliable source?
**I have, in the past, described myself as heteroflexible; whilst I know – from personal experience – that female sexuality is fluid, the term itself proved to be misrepresenting me. For the sake of simplicity and in order to stay true to 98% of myself, I am identifying as heterosexual.