Dump the Rainbow Flag
A flag depicting the hanging corpse of a thirteen year-old boy explains the experience of being gay better than a rainbow; it personifies the hate, the jokes, and the hollow sucking shame of being worthless and unwanted. While fake examples of loving families overcrowd click-bait headlines, I think my story, and many more like it, are far more typical. My parents raised me on a trinity of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hanity, and Laura Schlessinger – conservative radio hosts with millions of US listeners. They explained everything to me about the “biological error” that is the homosexual: his perversity, her deviance, its repulsive disease – and the need for a cure. Years later, while driving to a family party, my uncle suggested the cure indirectly by remarking on “the pieces of a chopped up fag they found in a dumpster.” The killer wasn’t caught, but “who cares,” because, “they are cleaning up the city.” There are of course many other stories, like the doctor who asked me if I had “heterosexual or homosexual” sex, then repeated the question twice after my answer, and finally, exasperated, defined his terms plainly. Once he realized I understood what the words meant, he left the room instantly. A long wait later, he gave me a brief, cold examination and kicked me out the door. Maybe he was afraid of AIDS or maybe he was just taking out the trash. A rainbow doesn’t speak to these kinds of experiences, but a hanging body does. Suicide gets to the root of why any of us gays are here– because no one wants us.
The rainbow flag originally signified various undesirable sexualities, but nowadays its application is broadened into mere vanity. Even the “Straight Ally,” a broad-minded Olympian willing to shake our diseased-infested hands, may now claim it. But he shouldn’t. The club of gays may be one of freaks, lepers, and worse – but it is a club membership bought with suffering. At least for me, once one buys something with blood and tears, one will not sell it again for a stranger’s smile, his pity, his condescension – or to be a proof of his goodness. Like all animals, humans work for their own benefit, and the straight ally phenomenon is no different; the trend is to appear accepting, but no straight person in their right mind sees faggots and dykes as equals. Take Jonah Hill, or Barak Obama, the Pope, or whoever – we are occasionally useful as targets for their largesse, but beneath it all, these are the people who laugh at the gay jokes, who make them, who are ashamed of their closet queers, who are confident of their superiority, their worthiness. People do not change.
If the rainbow flag has been transformed into a party favour, the party itself is an ironic and morbid one. Alcoholism, homelessness, increasing HIV infection, drug addiction, poverty, and suicide are the more likely results of being gay than becoming a straight woman’s shopping assistant. Unmeasured in these quantitative descriptions of LGBT life are the shame-faced looks people who once loved but now despise you, the emptiness of being marginal, the futility of a life that is nothing. I am reminded of an acquaintance, in his thirties and single, who was found stabbed to death in the stairwell of a building in Chile I lived in, a victim of the lawless hell that gay life can become when the outcasts pray on other outcasts. Taken in this light, the rainbow flag and the word “gay” are therefore parodies.
Many homosexuals will disagree with my point of view. Some will offer up the shaky smiles of family as feeble talismans of respect. Forgive me if I doubt. Others discard their beggar’s clothes, and blend with straights, imagining themselves as more than just a walking punch-line. Forgive me if I chuckle. In this life we both define ourselves and are defined by others; and while one can escape one’s own labels – one cannot escape those from outside. For the homosexual there are only two eras of life: the time before people know what you are, and after – a law that cannot be changed by begging for love; you are what you are and what you are is less. A symbol to preside over such people, ones that both destroy themselves and are destroyed by others in so many ways, is hard to choose, but if I had to select it – that symbol would not be a rainbow flag.
Centers for Disease Control [CDC]. (2014a). LGBT youth. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
CDC. (2014b). HIV among gay and bisexual men. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/
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Sears, B., & Badgett, L. (2012). Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community. The Williams Institute. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/headlines/beyond-stereotypes-poverty-in-the-lgbt-community/
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 (CDC, 2014b)
 (CDC, 2014a)
 (Sears & Badgett, 2012)
 (CDC 2014a; Paul et al., 2002)