So I turned on PBS tonight. Now, Iím a PBS fan. Itís one of the 4 channels my rabbit ears with the tin foil tips can pick up and it comes in clearer than the rest so I really havenít had a choice in the matter.
But PBS shows some groovy stuff. Ken Burns documenteries, Charlie Rose, and neato shows about war and tanks. I even like their daily news. The crew obviously shops at Good Will and style their hair with the Flo-Be hair cutting system, but I prefer to get my daily info from a bunch of reprobate political junkies too busy dogging stories to stop in at the tanning salon. I even used to give em money until the junk mail they sent me piled too high.
Now a couple of nights ago they had a documentary on about ďlittle peopleĒ. It was kind of stirring to watch all these tiny people make great things out of their lives. Iím a sucker for that sort of thing. I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Of course it was also cool getting to stare at them without feeling guilty, and since they closed down all the freak shows thatís a rare opportunity.
You watch these people drag stools all over their house just to do laundry and you realize some people really get the short end of the stick. And these people were cool. Good jobs, houses, kids. Overcoming dozens of surgies just so they can walk, being beaten up on the playground every day of their grade school lives, being forced to dress as elves in the school plays, yet these people had really made something out of their lives. Heartwarming stuff. Only one of them was a whiner. Hell, I whine more than these people and I'm 6'1.
Still riding the wave of "Big Enough" (check your local listings), I tuned in tonight excited about seeing another heart warming story of perseverance against gravity, and what do I get?
Glad you asked cause I'll tell ya.
I got a sober, tear stained documentary about gay arabs living in the U.S.
Okay people, we all have our crosses to bear, and being gay is a pretty big one. Here in the states it's getting a lot better, but I've known a lot of people who've been put through the ringer dealing with it. My gay friends are good people. People who whine a lot less than I do. Power to em. I don't care if they're gay, and have no idea why anyone else would. They don't hate me for being straight so it works for us. Plus they generally have comfortable furniture and throw great dinner parties with tasty umbrella cocktails.
But these people...
So we're scrolling from one tearful interview to the next, interspaced with shots of their families talking about how proud they are of their gay arab children. These people are all third generation Americans. No accents, no callouses on their forhead from being forced to bow down to mecca 5 times a day in some backwater middle eastern desert. They've all been to college, they all wear really groovy glasses and drive really slick cars. They all have neat jobs, nice clothes, and big groups of gay friends who hold great dinner parties.
But everyone of them has the same story. "I felt so alone. It's so hard being a gay arab. My parents were mad for awhile before they finally came around." And then the tears, "It's so hard, so hard."
Well by Gawd! Welcome to life you wimps. Life is hard. Your parents disagree with your lifestyle (I know mine do). And, news flash, we are all alone.
This one little party boy actually has the audacity to say, "it's so hard being gay and an Arab. I mean, I'm gay and I look like Osama Bin Laden." Say what?? Alright, take a step back scooter. I believe you're gay, but with your 200 dollar haircut, 500 dollar designer spectacles, and 5 foot tall fem-boy body, nobody is going to mistake you for a dirty, 6'4 terrorist with kidney trouble hiding out in the hills of Pakistan. Get a grip.
Why do these people get a documentary? How is their experience any different than every other gay person in this country who's been through the fear and doubt of coming out? I have a good friend in Minnesota who's parents still don't talk to him. It's been 10 years. He's also one of the truly nicest people I've ever met and makes a mean cocktail to boot. He's never bitched about it once.
So, one question keeps rolling through my mind as I watch this. (This is the point of this rant, so pay attention) When does a person stop being Pakistani, Iranian, Mexican, Martian, Whatever and instead become an American?
This is a question that never occured to me until I moved to New York and suddenly everyone was something. Chinese, Filipino, Laotian, Whatever, and it was suddenly all about sensitivity.
"You don't understand because you're not X, Y or Z."
No, I don't understand because I wasn't raised by two doctors and sent to elite private schools in preperation for the Ivy League. I don't undertand because I grew up in a town smaller than your apartment building populated by people who didn't give a shit about my roots. And you know what? You don't understand shit about me either. That's life.
You wanna feel like an outsider get a job at an ultra-liberal women's tv network populated by whacked out multicultural feminist leftists and then tell them you're from small town Texas. Watch them all step away from you. Then the questions, "Do you own guns? How many people like me have you beat up? Are you, like, one of those weird Christians? Do you speak in tongues? Do you have a third nipple and eat babies? You must be glad to have made it out of there, huh? I mean, cause you seem okay? Must just be all the others who are nuts."
I was at this party one night in a swank lower east side bar having a really groovy conversation with an ivy league blue blood about politics and Tostoy. Religion comes up and she's laying out whatever weird buddist/yoga/vegetable based philosophy she's partaking of this week. I tell her I'm Christian. She looks at me like I have a third eye and asks me, no bullshit, if I (here there's a look of disgust), like, you know, talk to God and stuff? I tell her sure. She looks shocked, shakes her head and scoots away from me to talk to the person next to her. Another political correctness malcontent cursing the evil world that doesn't 'understand' them, meanwhile they have no interest in understanding anybody outside their little Manhattan lives.
Finally, whenever these people started talking about their familial roots 8 generations back in Paraguay and how I can't possible understand because I'm a white male member of the dominant power paradigm, I'd just tell them that I'm a Native American, Irish, Jew (all true, except even though I look kinda Jewish the Jewishness is on the male side so it doesn't count), and am therefore the most picked upon person on earth. It flumoxed em. They didn't know what to do. I was supposed to be the evil white southern male they'd been taught to regard with fear and scepticism, not a member of three of the most abused cultures in the history of mankind. Shouldn't I be on some sort of government aid program or at least wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt?
And here's a little secret, the idea they could never wrap their overeducated and well coiffed heads around. I'm really not a Native American Irish Jew (even if Shlomo Sitting Bull O'Grady has a nice ring to it).
Sure, I suppose somewhere inside me, along with all the nicotine, alcohol, and parasites, there's some strange blood flowing. But, what I really am, balls to bones, is an American. A mut bred from the cast off strays of this crazy world, raised to believe in a better world attainable through guts, grit, and self reliance. Too busy looking forward to bother looking back.
Now, I have no problem with culture and roots, it makes for interesting conversation and new culinary experiences. What I have a problem with is people who are born are raised in this country, who take advantage of all the opportunites it has to offer, yet refuse to wear the moniker American and instead whine about how hard it is to be foreign.
Cause friends, we're all foreign, we're all freaks, and if you manage to find some people to care about, some people who might not know just what makes you crazy, who might not know how to use chopsticks or speak yiddish, but forgive you your insanities, you better hang on tight because there's not many people out there who'll put up with your tired boring ass anyway.
So, sure, it's hard to be gay, and hell, it might even be tough to be Arab, but it's tough to be anyone in this world, and if you really feel alone you can always go be gay in Iran. You'll meet lots of nice gay Iranians in prison. You can regale them with stories of trendy manhattan cocktail parties as you wait for your daily rubber hose beating.
Or if that doesn't work for you, suck it up, put a smile on your face and realize that life might not have given everything you wanted, but this is America by God, and if you stop crying and start trying, you can make yourself a life worth living. Hell, if you just chill out and stop telling everyone how different and alone you are you might even find you're not so alone after all.
It worked for the little people...