Thursday, January 31, 2013


I've been a supporter of equal rights for gays for a long time, but only in the last year or two have I gotten publicly vocal about my position.  I can remember discussing the issue of gay marriage with my father in the mid-1990s and being surprised to hear him say that he thought gays ought to be able to marry. His reasoning was that it would promote monogamy in the gay community.  At the time I found that to be a good reason, and to be frank the specter of AIDS was a lot more serious than it is today.

Today I think the idea that gays are more promiscuous than similarly straight people is mostly a myth, but I do find monogamy and the promotion of monogamy to be valuable for reasons I don't need to get into at the moment.  If that gets you to the point where you agree with me about the outcome--equal legal recognition of same-sex marriage--then I don't really care how you get there.

To me, though, it is a question of equality, fairness, and basic human decency.  Regardless of what you think about the morality or immorality of homosexuality, we ought to be able to agree, all of us, that those are decisions that people should be able to make for themselves and that we should respect those decisions.

[Poorly worded side comment excised; point saved for another day.]

What prompted me to write about this topic today was the news that Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle in the Andy Griffith Show and its spin-off, Gomer Pyle, USMC, and who has for many years sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the Indianapolis 500, married his (male) partner of 38 years in a ceremony in Washington, which recently put such marriages on an equal legal footing with male-female marriages.  Nabors is 82.  In a report, he said that he has been "out" to friends and co-workers for many years but has never spoken to the media about his sexual orientation.

Nabors is one of a growing number of celebrities who have publicly "come out" in recent years.  I don't think this revelation is much of a surprise to anyone who could read between the lines of his personal biography--I've seen him referred to using the "confirmed bachelor" euphemism--but it would be easy to lose the significance of his public act.  Nabors is a native of Alabama. He's closely associated with a television program that was considered "wholesome" even in the buttoned-down early 1960s. At 82, he's spent most of his life living in an American culture that until recently viewed his lifestyle as despicable.  I don't know how hard it was for him personally to come out publicly, but it would be understandable if it was the most fearsome thing he had ever faced.

It makes me happy to know that our attitudes on this subject are changing.  I'm happy that Jim Nabors could finally get the recognition his relationship deserves, if for no other reason than that at 82 he doesn't have that many years left. Of course, everybody deserves a little happiness.  And I'm hopeful that homosexuals in all states who have lived in the closet, whether for 5 minutes or 5 decades, will soon have the chance to lead open lives the way that we heterosexuals take for granted.

It makes me cringe to see actors called by their character names, but I'm going to make an exception just once and say, Shazam, Gomer...good for you.

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