This morning I was listening to an NPR segment about the brutal crackdown on homosexuality in Iran that is triggering trade embargoes and could have severe economic consequences for a nation that is daft enough to let an old dusty book dictate national policy toward a segment of its population. The focus was on a young man for whom the threat of persecution, torture and possible execution was real enough that he exiled himself to Turkey. How nice, I thought, to live in a more tolerant society, where one can be gay and not feel the Sword of Damocles hanging a half inch above one's neck at all times.
Then this afternoon I drove home to the story of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman whose roommate, Dharun Ravi, was either so offput or so amused by Clementi's homosexual behavior that he saw fit to secretly webcast it for all to see. Oh yeah, I remembered, I don't live in a more tolerant society. I live in the United States.
Well, thanks to Ravi's invasion of privacy, his roommate is dead. The 18-year-old Tyler threw himself from the George Washington Bridge. Was his suicide a result of an unbearable humiliation? Was this an unstable personality nudged past the breaking point by being outed? Was Tyler so afraid his family would find out that death seemed the better alternative? I suppose more of this will come to light as the weeks go by.
What I want to know is, when will this nation grow up enough to realize that homosexuality will exist as a matter of course?, that there is no sin involved, no matter what the Bible or the Koran or any other 'good' book says, and that there is nothing erratic or even that interesting about two people of the same sex getting together, getting intimate, making love, getting married and spending a lifetime together. Or maybe just one wild night, like any straight college freshman might be expected to do in peace.