Thursday, June 18, 2009

There Are No Whores in Rome: My Somewhat Convoluted Pro LGBT Argument

Oh, boy! Looks like Brother President Obama has torn his britches with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. They are getting a bit peeved with him, and I don’t blame them one bit.

Now, I completely understand, or at least I can empathize, with what Brother President is up against. A number of disparate groups representing a number of interests bought into his message of change and threw their support behind him. And now these groups want some payback.

I understand that Brother President can’t engage in a wholesale program of change; on a number of issues, he has to ease into it. As he is successful in many of his initiatives, he will gain political capital which will then allow him to address some of the more controversial issues. But if he moves too quickly, some of his more right leaning supporters will run for the hills.

However, on some issues I believe Brother President should drop his guard and act just because it’s the right thing to do. And LGBT issues rank right up there at the very top of the list.
Let’s look at the gays in the military issue for instance. Brother President passed this issue to the courts thinking they would make the decision for him, but they lateraled it right back to him, forcing him to make a stand. But he won’t, and it doesn’t make any sense.

Let me drop this little tidbit off as I cruise on through. While the decision to allow gays in the military is being contemplated, they are already there. Our society and culture has always made the mistake in believing those bodies we deem deviant are necessarily excluded from certain spaces and polities by the very nature of the institutions. Let me relate this little tale as demonstrative of this assertion.

A few years back I attended a conference in Italy, so while I was there, I decided to stay over in Rome a couple of days to do some sightseeing.

Well, the first day I was there, I was standing on the grounds of one of the many historical sites in the city. A group of young American males were there being generally obnoxious; I could not ascertain if they were students or members of the military. But they were good and drunk.

As I looked on at their antics half annoyed, half amused, one of them asked the question, or rather yelled the question, “Where are the whores?”. The others took up the question as if it were a mantra: “Yeah, where are the whores? Bring on the whores!”

And then what could only be labeled a postmodern moment, it was definitely post something, a black man appeared from nowhere.

His features were decidedly of African origin—very African origin. He had the widest, flattest nose and the biggest set of soup coolers I have ever seen. And he was so absolutely black that as the Mediterranean sun shone on his skin, he actually appeared purple.

He wore a three piece black suit, white shirt, black tie, a black bowler hat, white gloves, and held an umbrella in the crook of his arm. He looked like a negroid Mr. French. Keep in mind now, this is the middle of July in the Mediterranean region, and it is hot—hell hot. I’m standing there in flip-flops, shorts, and a tank top, and I’m sweating like a slave.

The obnoxious party boys were finally quiet and looking at him like he was a chimera of some kind. Then he spoke. In an impeccable British accent with a openly contemptuous tone, he spoke.

“My dear sirs, there are no whores in Rome. The Catholic Church and the presence of His Holy Pontiff prevents such. The local and the federal government entities and the Vatican saw to it that Rome was rid of this scourge a quite a while whence.”

Now I was scratching my head. No whores in Rome? I’ve visited cities all over the world, and whatever the government system, whatever the economic system, there were some hoes somewhere. After all, it’s the oldest profession in the world, and to think there could be no whores in Rome is absolutely ludicrous.

And to confirm my suspicions, as soon as the Anglo-African gentleman disappeared as quickly and quietly as he appeared, a half-moon circle of the most stereotypical, Guido the Killer Pimp looking characters—shiny silk suits, greasy hair, a neck full of medallions, the whole nine—step out of the shadows offering up for purchase what else but whores.

Instantly, this image of a slimy underbelly of Rome crawling with prostitutes and comically stereotypical pimps entered my mind.

But the upshot of this little cautionary tale is this. To think that those bodies we deem deviant can be legislated out of existence is absolutely insane. To think they will go away by simply denying their presence is equally insane. These bodies exist and will continue to exist, inhabiting all spaces and polities regardless of their supposed sanctity and orientation.

So Brother President, do yourself a favor and do what is right. When you were campaigning, you spoke explicitly of equal treatment for everyone. You promised that the humanity of all would be recognized and all would be represented. Everyone and all did include our LGBT brothers and sisters, didn't it.

And keep in mind, you are going to need all the support you can get to get your other initiatives, especially this healthcare thing, pushed through. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do.

And if anyone out there is going to Rome and wants to know where to find whores, shoot me a line.

What do you think? Is Brother President Obama unjustly dragging his feet on LGBT issues?


Jo Moore said...

I, too understand what the man is going through politically. I know that in order to spend capital you have to make it first. That is the way it works in DC.

I realize that BO has on been in office for days..150 almost...that is not time in Washington...and eveyone says the wheels of justice turn slow....well try and get Congress off the pot...

However, he made some promises...they are good and justified promises....he should do the easy ones...first...

DADT is easy..and executive order would take care of that..

Defense of Marriage is a little trickier, but doable..

The DOJ defense of DOMA this past week and the White House defense of DOJ arguments is simply inexcusable...

The memorandum yesterday was a joke..It will expire when he leaves office...that is what memorandums do...

Thanks for your whores in Rome, just have to know where to look...I saw one or two...

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