• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    He’s a walker in the rain / He’s a dancer in the dark

    Ross of Romeo Mike’s Gumption says this after an extensive explanation of why he doesn’t support same-sex marriage:

    It’s because of these kinds of people who shout the loudest for gay marriage that I’m so suspicious of it. They demand that they deserve “equal” respect, but look at them. Apparently for some, respect’s not earned, just demanded through vile, childish narcissism.

    He’s not speaking in the abstract: There’s a link to comments on the blog of a gay Catholic Australian blogger after he appeared on a television show to discuss his position against SSM. If you’re at all familiar with these types of, uh, discussions, you probably don’t need to click through to know what you’ll find there.

    Anyway, I know I’ve banged this gong plenty already, but I will never, ever get used to this stuff. When will people get it through their heads that you can’t coerce people into approving of you? You can, possibly, coerce them into postures of approval, temporarily, through political machinations. But the current climate indicates that–and can you blame them?–they’re not going to sit still for it for long.

    From my perspective as a resident of Japan, one of the saddest things about idiot gay-lefty rhetoric is the way its campus proponents manage to infect foreign students with it. Then they bring it back here and are thrown off balance when it doesn’t square with reality, often on more basic levels than that of the SSM debate. A close American friend recently described how a rather clingy Japanese employee, having been essentially disowned by his father after coming out, asked him for advice about how to fix things. My friend is a patient, gentlemanly guy and responded on the order of, “Well, I can tell you what I would do, but I’m from a different culture, and the way I see my choices is different.”

    I wish I were more patient and gentlemanly myself. When asked similar questions, I’ve generally responded along the lines of “Why didn’t you think about this before coming out to him?” Western-style individualism doesn’t, after all, guarantee that you’ll get everything you want; it just allows you to prioritize things for yourself–as opposed to having them prioritized for you by the clan, village, or state–and go after what’s at the top of your list without impediment. I can empathize with the belief that candidly coming out to your parents is preferable to a lifetime of question-dodging and waffling, but if you decide to do so without preparing mentally to deal with the worst-case scenario, you’re asking for trouble. I’m not defending parents who disown their children for being gay, only making what should be the common-sense point that you can’t control other people’s behavior, let alone their feelings. Having the backbone to follow through on your beliefs even if you’re despised for them is part of being a free citizen.

    And likewise with relationships themselves. Positions of the “if you don’t respect us as mature, centered adults, we’ll hold our breath until we turn blue” variety are incoherent. They’re also counter-productive. In external terms, whininess is a PR disaster. In internal terms, signalling to young gay people just getting their lives in order that it’s okay to blame all their problems on the failure of straight society to confer “dignity” on them stunts their growth. Adult resilience is attained by confronting obstacles and testing your own strength in the course of overcoming them. Until SSM advocates learn to focus on practical obstacles to keeping relationships together and learn to keep a lid on the self-pity, they’re not helping anyone except anti-gays on the far right.

    9 Responses to “He’s a walker in the rain / He’s a dancer in the dark”

    1. Ross says:

      You’d think the protest movements, regardless of issue, would have learnt by now considering they’re permanently in workshops and forums. But I think it’s mainly due to the personality types attracted to it; they want to make a ruckus, the cause is just an excuse. For many activists, protest is their identity, their ego-affirmation.

      I know, it’s sad.

    2. Mark Alger says:


      You may not realize it, but this:

      …but if you decide to do so without preparing mentally to deal with the worst-case scenario, you’re asking for trouble.

      is a brilliant formulation. I’ve always thought, “If you can’t take ‘No (!)’ for an answer, don’t ask the question.” But yours drills down to the heart of the matter.

      Well done!


    3. Zak says:

      I understand that you think gay marriage is unnecessary in terms of gaining others’ respect, but what about the purely pragmatic benefits of being married in terms of visas (for international couples), insurance, wills, hospital visits, etc.?

      All whining about feelings aside, it strikes me there are a lot of concrete reasons, many of them boiling down to $$, that being able to marry your boyfriend would be beneficial. Wouldn’t you want to take advantage of these if you could?

      (Take a concrete example here in Japan: if Atsushi and you spend the rest of your lives together, and you get to the point where only one of you needs to work, the fact that you can’t marry means you’ll end up paying many millions of yen more over the course of your life for your own insurance simply because you can’t be included on his. That alone would piss me off greatly.)

    4. Normal Desmond says:

      How many gay couples have drafted mutual wills, durable powers of attorney, taken out life insurance policies, and deeds of trust for the benefit of one other? If gays are serious about marriage rights, then they should be fully prepared to secure those rights even in the absence of gay marriage. Working within the existing legal framework to secure as many rights as possible would definitely be the mature and responsible course of action until(if ever) the real thing comes along.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:


      I think you’re right about people who go into activism full-time. Also about people who think the anonymity of the Internet is a wonderful opportunity to unleash the id. I still find it hard to get used to, and you’re right–it’s sad.


      Thank you–compliments from you always make me blush. Don’t take it as a rebuff if I say that we’ve reached a pretty sorry pass if the point I was making can be considered brilliant. The idea of taking a gamble without considering the possibility that you might lose strikes me as nuts.


      I think you’re offering a false dilemma. I support civil unions or other ways to bundle entitlement transfers to make them easier to do. There really are civil rights issues involved. But I don’t think I’ve ever once–and I’ve been following this argument for almost a decade–seen a pro-SSM argument that didn’t eventually degenerate into feel-good stuff about how nothing but marriage, called “marriage,” is good enough because it signals that straight and gay relationships are different and thereby renders us “second-class citizens” and takes away our dignity. To me, that’s a huge logical leap from the premise that stable gay partners need to have the means to provide for each other without interference.

      Normal Desmond:

      Good to see you. It will not come as a surprise that I haven’t done a 180 in the last few months and started disagreeing with you on that score. No matter what people think the situation should be, in the world we inhabit, there are things couples can do right now to ensure as much as possible that their relationships are honored. Too many don’t, and then want to complain when the worst happens and they’re shut out.

    6. Mark Alger says:


      You might be right that it’s nuts not to go in prepared for a setback. No. Strike that. You ARE right. Of course. It should go without saying.

      But people will — and to the extent they’re affirmed in the behavior, will do so increasingly — use your disapproval or denial of their desires as some kind of blackmailable offense. And so much of modern society seems to be structured to support this as acceptable behavior.

      Hellofa way to raise children, but some people seem to think it’s OK.

      Which is one reason why I constantly shake my head at the Bizarro World that so many of our compatriots seem to live in. One of myriad…


    7. Mark Alger says:

      Aaaah! Blew my concentration and forgot my main point! (I hate it when that happens!)

      It’s not that the concept is brilliant or original (although: kudos to you for recognizing it when so many don’t — or won’t), but that your formulation of it takes me (at least) in a new and pleasantly surprising direction.


    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      We love taking people in new and pleasantly surprising directions! Glad to assist.

    9. Creating a personal second class

      I found couple of very thoughtful posts on the gay marriage issue which I think are well worth reading. I say “thoughtful,” because both are sincere, and not hemmed in by ideological considerations. Sean Kinsell criticizes the implicit (maybe explicit)…

    Leave a Reply