Henry Rollins: Gay Marriage Is Punk Rock
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
Hats off to Washington state where, recently, hundreds of same-sex couples were legally married. I am elated as much as I am frustrated by why this country refuses to wake up and smell the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. I feel for everyone who wanted to get married for so long and were made to feel so bad about who they are. I feel worse for all the Americans in the large number of remaining states still waiting for their turn to enjoy the freedoms and protections bestowed upon them by their very citizenship.
There is still a long way to go. Marriage equality is a term so ridiculous on its face that when you hear it mentioned, you would think you were in Riyadh. Years from now, perhaps we can lose the equality part, the same-sex part and call it what it is -- marriage. As much as the homophobes, an ever-thinning herd, whines and screeches, the earth is shifting underneath their feet and things are getting better all the time. This is going to be an incredible century. Didn't get off to a very good start but we are making some bold and exciting strides forward.
I have been reading online people's reaction to what happened in Washington and there seems to be concern, sincere but misguided, as to what happens when same-sex couples adopt and how kids need a mommy and a daddy, etc. Kids need parents who love and support them unconditionally, full stop. You think children give a damn about their parents' gender?
The choice between a child being raised by two adults who adore the child and the kid being kept with a bunch of other children in a facility like some Charles Dickens wide shot is obvious. You watch, in years to come, some of the brightest and most productive people entering into the adult working world will be the kids who were raised by same-sex parents.
I know two young girls and their two fathers. The girls are amazing and the two dads are solid as a rock. All four of them are lucky to have found each other. Imagine a 15-year-old kid saying, "I have two moms, it's cool." I don't fear that at all.
Marriage equality in the states, for perhaps decades to come, will look like how the country votes, with a line drawn in the proverbial sand that has been there since 1865. One half will live in Old Testament denial and miserable slow growth and the other half will just get on with things.
However, it could very well be that things will change faster than that. Millions of teenagers in the southern states will be eligible to vote in 2016. It could very well be that these Internet-age young adults will want to make a permanent break with the past. If those states got switched on, treated themselves better and got out more, imagine the unbelievable powerhouse America would be. Could be incredible.
I love the Constitution. I read from it almost every single day. I am no expert, of course, but you can count me as a major fan. If the Constitution was a movie, the Preamble would be the trailer, the First Amendment the establishing shot, the 13th the crowd pleaser and the 14th the ultimate hero scene. It's such an amazing document and it really gives you all the ammo you need to win against the homophobes and the misogynists. From reproductive health to marriage, the First, Fourth and 14th are all you need. Conversation done.
Can't handle it? You move. Trust me, Canada won't take you. Better yet, stick around, get a clue and let's all dance this mess around.
I went to an all-boys school. We had gay students, at least two gay teachers. I grew up in Washington, D.C., which has a large gay population. It was never an issue for me and the guys I hung out with. When we all got into punk rock, we learned that we had all kinds of people in our scene; gay was part of it. I thought it was really cool. We were a crew of social misfits of all stripes and it was the music that brought us together.
The fact that there were so many gay people in punk bands, I think, really gave the music an incredible dynamic. Frustration and emotion were expressed without orientation clauses; all you needed was to be was alive to be a part of it.
I appreciate and admire the day-to-day courage of the gay people I have encountered in the music world and elsewhere. I have never been put in the position of having to "stand up" for my heterosexuality. I am on the biggest possible team and it's always the home game for me. The Westboro Baptist Church's god doesn't hate me and I have lived life with an incredible amount of mobility and a low level of fear and tribulation. On the other hand, gay in Wyoming? That's some Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon highlight-reel action.
I am not a religious person, but I will say that music is at least a way to live my life, it instructs me to adhere to a certain code of conduct. If I am digging music from all over the world, performed by males and females, gay and straight, then I am screwed on the prejudice front.
One day, there will be no gay-pride parades because there simply won't be a need for them. Years from now, those who marched will be seen as heroic. But hopefully the product of all that is more and more people just getting on with their all-too-brief lives and rockin' some serious music.
Marriage equality is alive and well in Washington state. Hopefully it keeps spreading.
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