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MUHAMMAD: Before 'Being Gay' Was a Movement

Askia Muhammad | 6/5/2013, 4 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

I used to be gay. In fact, I’ve been gay many times.

Of course, I’m referring to the definition of “gay” in my Funk & Wagnalls Practical Standard Dictionary, published in 1935.

Back then, gay meant: “Filled with or inspiring mirth; merry…” So I’ve been filled with mirth on many occasions, but I would never now say that I’m “gay” when I mean I’m in a merry mood.

Today, being gay has a meaning which is attached to one’s sexual preference that is a “gay person” is someone who prefers having sex with a partner who’s of the same gender. That’s TMI – too much information for me. To be honest, I’m not interested in knowing the sexual preferences of people I meet, since nothing I have to do with them has or will have anything to do with having sex.

There was an episode on the television sitcom “Seinfeld,” in which the character Kramer obtained a vanity license plate with the word “ASSMAN” on it. The story line dealt with the various propositions Kramer reported receiving, mostly as I recall, from women. Well, suppose someone was to announce himself as being a “LEGMAN,” or a “BREASTMAN,” that person would be considered extremely crude and ill-mannered.

So, what’s the difference when a man announces that he likes to have sex with other men, or when a woman says she prefers having sex with other women? You see what I mean? That’s way too far into anyone’s private life than I ever want to go.

But this whole “gay thing” has turned everything on its head.

For example, the president of the most powerful nation on the planet made a personal telephone call to a second or third-string player, on a mediocre NBA team to congratulate the player for announcing that he prefers having sex with men … not a champion, not an All-Star, but a bench warmer on a team which hasn’t made the playoffs in more than a decade. Duh? What’s the big deal?

Meanwhile, the president of a war-torn African country is poised to sign legislation which will make anyone involved in same-sex marriage subject to as many as 14 years in prison? Huh? If marriage is governed by the laws of that country in the first place, how could any same-sex couple even be able to “get married” if “getting married” means they could go to jail for 14 years? I understand the people in that country evidently don’t approve of homosexuality, but why do they have to outlaw something that is not legal in the first place?

Everyone is confused today.

There is an expression: “politics makes strange bedfellows,” meaning that sometimes folks you’d never imagine being together, get together in order to achieve a political goal. Well today, “bed-partners make strange political allies.”

There is a Log Cabin Republican club, which supported Gov. Mitt Romney for president in the 2012 election, and embraced all of the modern GOP’s wacky, racist, conservative ideas on immigration, fiscal policy, you name it, but their lone departure with other Republicans, is over the fact that they are openly gay, and they want the GOP to change its stance concerning homosexuality. Astonishing.

I believe people who are in life-long, committed, monogamous relationships with one another, regardless of their gender, deserve the same legal protections – hospital visitation, next of kin privileges, tax breaks – that any couple is afforded. I just don’t understand why so many folks want to broadcast their sexual appetites to everyone else.

I have friends who are in committed, same-sex relationships. I have actually been in some of their homes. I say this now, not to try to convince people who I don’t know and who don’t know me, that I’m not homophobic. I say this now because I value those friendships and would hate it if something I’ve said here might offend any of them.

Today, I see where young people are declaring themselves to be gay, at ages many years before I was even close to having sex. See, I’ve told you too much about myself, about when I was a teenager and too socially awkward to even hold hands with a girl, which was a time when I was often “gay,” and merry, and happy, which was a time when being gay did not mean I belonged to a movement.