Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bathroom Bill

For the record, I didn't care if a particular person was gay before it was cool to not care if a particular person was gay. In fact, I had a gay roommate, who was also a good friend, for a couple of years in the late 70s. I still take great pride in the fact that when he and I and some other gay friends were hanging out one day, that they told me I was one of the most well-adjusted heterosexual males they knew.

This puzzled me. At the time, I was not on the short-list of nominees for the stud of the year award. Actually, never have been, never will be, particularly now that I'm over a thousand years old. A huge head, a lazy eye, my mom's nose (cute on her, not so much on me) and the odd trait, for a male, of preferring to copulate with females I'm at least deeply in like with, is not the definition of studly. Perhaps this is why I've always suspected I'm a lesbian trapped in a mans body.

[Irony Alert: The lesbian trapped in a mans body line, which I've used for years, is meant to be a non-sequitur. Humorous in that I thought it made no sense, while also poking fun at the parade of Bigfeets prepared to present themselves for our (well, not mine, sniff) entertainment on numerous television shows. Turns out, it's a thing. I guess I should apologize.]

Anyway, this puzzled me because, callowyute that I was at the time, I jumped to the wrong conclusion. In spite of the fact I was a bit picky, I was as obsessed with sex as much as the typical male of the species. I was going through a dry spell and like most single male callowyutes I thought there was a scorecard on my forehead that clearly indicated I was no threat to anyone's daughters. If I'm so well adjusted, where's all the wimmin?

[Irony alert, No. 2: The word wimmin in the previous sentence was used as a subtle tribute to the immortal Popeye. A quick bit of research (don't ask, it's just the way I am) revealed to me that it's a thing too. Turns out that there are feminists that prefer the word wimmim to the word women. They also prefer using womban, or womon, instead of woman. As Popeye once said, "Wimmim is a myskery."]

Further conversation revealed that I had missed the point entirely. What they were referring to was that apparently there are a lot more bi-curious and/or confused men at large in the world than I was aware of. This phenomenon was the source of my comfortably and unapologetically gay acquaintances having had no shortage of dramatic/baffling/hilarious/embarrassing encounters in their quest for love, be it tawdry or spiritual in nature. They were just saying that they appreciated that I knew what I was about, that I knew where I was coming from.

[My imagined gentlereader speaks. Wow, you rock dude! Please, tell us more about how frosty and well adjusted you are. If the rest of this column is going to be more of the same I'm going to call my dentist's office to see if they've had any cancellations today, I need to get my teeth cleaned. Marie-Louise is hip cocked and head tilted, left eyebrow raised in scepticism.]

Sheesh. I was just establishing my bona fides before discussing the kerfuffle concerning the considerable controversy generated by a law recently passed by the state legislature of North Carolina. House Bill 2, or, the Bathroom Bill.

The bill sez that local municipalities can't pass their own laws regulating wages, employment and
"public accommodations."

The LBGTIQ -- lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, intersex, and queer or questioning community -- is up in arms. I shall take the high road and refrain from making any comments on the acronym in question, with the exception of one cheap joke. I'll bet they have more interesting parties in that community that I do in mine.

Now, while North Carolina does have a state law on the books that forbids discrimination, it doesn't contain specific protections for those groups listed in the previous paragraph. Also, House Bill 2 requires that multi-occupancy restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, etc., in public schools and government buildings are to be used by folks based on the biological sex listed on their birth certificates. Multi-occupancy? Yup, it's OK for public institutions to offer restrooms that can be used by anyone, one soul at a time.

Before we move on, some more cheap jokes. What about aliens, from other planets I mean? They do walk among us after all. Who enforces the rules? Will North Carolina be forced to create a Department of Genitalia Certification?

As to the worry that those folks who identify themselves as a member of one of the groups delineated by the acronym in question having to endure endless discrimination unless they are specifically protected by law, I'm sorry, but as you may have heard elsewhere, life is not fair.

I'm not advocating that it's OK to discriminate against anyone, or any group, in particular. However, I would point out that everyone discriminates. Sometimes it makes sense. For example, I freely admit that I go out of my way to avoid dealing with drunks and drug addicts if at all possible.

Sometimes it makes no sense whatsoever. There's no shortage of folks that automatically hate someone because of the color of their skin or whom they copulate with. Which is just goofy. But if I thought you were one of these goofy people, I'd avoid you too. I might even choose to not hire you for a job you're otherwise eminently qualified for. I may choose not to rent you an apartment. I might decide to discriminate against you.

However, being slightly smarter than I look, I'd never admit to my reasons if I thought it might cause me legal problems, or even just an awkward conversation. I'd just pick someone else and have a bullet proof cover story prepared. I'm guessing most people would, and do, the same thing.

I know for a fact that I've been repeatedly discriminated against because I'm chronologically (slightly) over 50, even though in reality, I am, and always will be, 39. Not once was the evil perpetrator dumb enough to say it was because they thought I was too old. Well, except for a certain hottie that works at my favorite convenience store, but I see her point.

My point is that all the legislation in the world won't make anyone actually accept anyone. But it will generate lots of work for lawyers and bureaucrats. Be kind, be rational, be dependable, pay your own way, do your job, be a good spouse, show a little style, do the right thing, set a good example, et cetera. Many people will accept you as you are, many will not -- get over it and get on with it.

As to which restroom you should use, well, let me put it this way. Even though I'm a lesbian trapped in a mans body, when out and about in the world, I wear men's clothing and use the men's room when nature calls. I confess to being hopelessly old-fashioned in that I support the genitalia rule.

I could care less which letter of the acronym you identify with. I could care less about what you get up to behind closed doors, as long a no one's getting hurt unless they want to. But I would remind you that you share the playground with other kids. I would remind you acceptance won't come by insisting that anything goes and everything must be tolerated.

I'm not worried that you're going to molest my grandkids, but I am worried that there's no shortage of infidels out there that would if given the chance. I am worried that discretion, modesty, and consideration of others people's sensibilities are considered to be quaint notions.

You're a little weird, you don't fit in, but you're comfortable in your own skin? Fine. Me too. Personally, I don't care if I'm accepted and approved of. And I don't go out of my way to make people uncomfortable. Just the opposite. I mind my own, try to show a little class, follow a personal code of moral and ethical rules that are hard to live up to and try to remember that the sermon/speech/column/screed lived is the best way to effect change.

And I would ask Bruce Springsteen, a gazillionaire poster child of limousine liberals, do you actually believe that cancelling a concert and depriving restaurant servers, parking lot attendants, the venues janitors, et cetera, of the money they didn't make that day served any purpose beyond polishing your halo?

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 201


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