This question is most familiar. It was asked of Dorothy as she tried to find her way out of Oz. At Gay Pride, the better question is, “Are you a ‘good homosexual’ or a ‘bad’ one?”
There are phrases from the African-American experience, like the “good negro,” “Uncle Tom,” “house negro” and “acting white” — meant for people who are excessively subservient to perceived authority figures or for any person viewed as a participant in the oppression of their own group.
In the controversy with the Boy Scouts and their exclusion of gay people, I have been in discussions with those in this locality who have been partnering with and financially supporting them. One of the largest financial supporters of the local Scouts is United Way, and I have tried in the last number of months to sensitize them on GLBT issues.
Recently I made a presentation to the United Way. I asked that they stop funding the Scouts; that they include the GLBT community in their efforts; that they start by attending the local Pride festival; and that they bring with them checks for the two local GLBT youth groups and the local Pride group. I told them the local GLBT community had many needs, among them a youth shelter, a community center and a day center for seniors. I also asked for inclusion of GLBT professionals in their community leadership development program.
At the end of my presentation, I was advised that the director of a longstanding recipient of United Way’s funding was next to speak, and it quickly became clear that she was there to sing for her supper and she sang out of both sides of her mouth.
From one side, this executive director said she agreed with everything I said and even acknowledged being a lesbian. But then from the other side, she said she favored the funding of the Scouts; that she was against a GLBT center; that she was opposed to the inclusion of GLBT professionals in the leadership program; and characterized my thinking and my being so “out” as “extremist.” In short, she was there as their “house homosexual” and the “good homosexual” and to declare me the “bad homosexual.”
With its complete exclusion of gay people, the Scouts long ago lost their way. With voting recently to allow gay youth, they are starting to find their way. In time, the local United Way may also find its way to the GLBT community. The director in favor of Scouts funding too has lost her way. She needs to become willing to be the “bad homosexual” and to start speaking up for herself and for her own community. If she is not able or willing to do this, then this “good homosexual” should resign.
Perhaps other elements of “The Wizard of Oz” provide the way forward. Maybe a young Scout who is a “friend of Dorothy” and a very good “bad homosexual” can help the United Way, that executive director and the Scouts themselves find their way to the GLBT community. Like Dorothy and her three traveling companions, maybe they too should yearn for a rainbow and follow the yellow brick road.
Happy Gay Pride!
— Donald Maher Stony Run