In March of 2007, American storyteller/columnist/radio personality Garrison Keillor wrote a piece for Salon.com in which he praised the virtues of marriage. Nothing wrong with that. Being married is a wonderful thing. It's so wonderful that a majority of Americans don't want to share the institution with their gay and lesbian neighbors. Religious conservatives are so opposed to same-sex nuptials that they're willing to break the 9th Commandment in order to prevent it. (See: NOM, Roman Catholic Church, Mormons, etc.) Keillor's piece starts off rather innocuously: "I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them… Back in the day, that was the standard arrangement. Everyone had a yard, a garage, a female mom, a male dad, and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids..." After some mildly amusing observations, the author of Prairie Home Companion embraces his main theme, which involves the importance of monogamy, and - despite having been a serial adulterer himself - chooses same-sex relationships as his scapegoat du jour. He ridicules gay males in particular, and questions their child-rearing abilities: "(G)ay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives... The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men - sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show."
Blogger Dan Savage took issue with Keillor's assessment: Where to start? How about that one sentence that somehow manages to pack in six flaming stereotypes about gay men - fussy hair, small dogs, over-decorated apartments, and on and on. Yes, Garrison, all of us gay men - particularly us gay parents! - are decadent, flamboyant creatures. Sure, having kids means puke on your chartreuse trousers and candy ground into your expensive sofa - but, hey, those are small prices to pay if it means getting to show off your chartreuse pants at PTA meetings! (Keillor later issued a lukewarm apology for being "misunderstood.")
So what are we supposed to make of a new LGBT-affirming Keillor, who just today on the Kitsap Sun expresses these noble sentiments: "I want to believe in the kindness of strangers. I believe that if voters actually knew gay couples, they would not vote to ban gay marriage. This particular cruelty is the result of social separation, which breeds contempt."
Between his original piece and this one, did Mr. Keillor suddenly find the time to actually become acquainted with a same-sex couple? His description of gay men in the first article sounds like character profiles from a community theater production of The Boys in the Band... and yet he wrote that a mere three years ago. (If anybody thinks I should lighten up, consider if he'd penned a similar passage about African Americans using racial stereotypes.)
I'd be curious to know what, if anything, changed the author's opinion about the inherent decadence and flamboyance of gay men. Oh well. I'll have to ponder that another time. Now I must go die my hair lavender, rouge my nipples and dance naked in the backyard.