Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To Lakewood to Boro Park to the Gay Pride Parade in Manhattan: My Weekend (Part II)

(Part I)

I met up with my friend Dallas Blumenfield for lunch Sunday in Manhattan. I roomed with Dallas for two years when I was at Yeshiva University. The two of us were involved with the Drama Society and waitered on weekends. I would describe Dallas as my gay Texas Jewish Republican, complete with multiple pairs of several hundred dollar boots. Dallas is not actually gay (for one thing he is now happily married to a woman) though he does, in many respects, fit the stereotype. Dallas is the sort of person comfortable enough with his sexuality not to particularly care if he gives the imprecision that he is not straight. It was because of Dallas that I became a follower of Queer as Folk. I never actually saw more than a few scenes of the show, but I became familiar with the show, its characters and plotlines from hearing it across the room and from Dallas filling me in on the details. I should also mention that Dallas is right now working on becoming a rabbi.

By some strange quirk of fate we had lunch a block away from Fifth Avenue, down which the Gay Pride Parade was marching. So after lunch we both went to have a look at what Dallas jokingly referred to as the “freak show.” I promptly berated him for his prejudiced attitude.
So here we were; two nice Jewish men arm and arm. I think we fit in quite nicely. What really struck about the whole event was how mainstream it was. (Men in leather thongs being as about as extreme as it got) There was nothing there that would be particularly out of place anywhere else in midtown Manhattan. Granted, that you can get away with almost anything in Manhattan today. I would see this as a reason to accept the gay rights movement’s agenda; if you can put up with Manhattan than you should be able to put with them. Alternatively, a heterosexual society that has created a Manhattan for itself frankly deserves the full normalization of homosexuality.

This parade was not all that different from parades honoring the Irish or the Italians. There were quite a number of local politicians walking. You can say that by now it is a necessary part of New York City politics, particularly if you are a Democrat, to walk. There was a gay running club, a gay rugby club and a gay sailing club. For some strange reason people think that there something radical or revolutionary about arguing for gay rights. If you have politicians trolling for your vote like any other interest group and particular social clubs to cater to the interests of members of your social group than you are no different from any other social group with the same moral standing as any other social group. Just as social groups such as the Irish and the Italians have the right to pursue their self interest as something distinct from their rights so too do homosexuals. But let us be absolutely clear, just because something is in the gay community’s best interest does not mean it is a right.

I am not sure what to make of the fact that someone with a yarmulke was walking in the parade. Maybe this person was simply showing his moral support as a fellow liberal. I wonder if the person is Orthodox or not. If he was a secular Jew, who simply put on a yarmulke for the event to identify himself as a Jew, should I take it as an offense? My inclination is to see this in a positive light and embrace this person as someone pursuing his own Jewish journey even though I may have problems with the means by which he does this. I think it is simplistic and unhelpful to simply cast this person as someone trying to destroy Judaism.

This is why we need gays in the military. As fans of Mel Brooks understand, if we had a gay sergeant in the gay Peruvian Indians, than we could crush France in six weeks.

Now I am flying off to England. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Miss S. said...

What a double-whammy. Read your blog post after reading this article on Yahoo! It is unfortunate that gay Jews are pushed to be non-religious/non-frum (random musing; I have no suggestions/answers/comments on that).