2. THE CHOSEN ONE
Thus it was decided: we would go to look for the baby on his island. Neither I nor the Blonde knew how long this journey would last. We didn’t know how strenuous it would be. We didn’t even know if in the end we would be able to find our little long-lost munchkin.
We knew, in short, just about nothing.
But that wasn’t what was worrying me. What was worrying me was that we were about to go rip this unsuspecting little babe out of his perfect world and catapult him d’emblée into this, our sort of a world—a world that’s quite a long way off from perfect.
Worrying, though, wasn’t going to help anybody. I had already wasted too many years ruminating on how society wasn’t ready. Now it was time to mobilize.
The moment had arrived in which I, too, would do my part to make the little critter’s welcoming committee just a little bit warmer.
The plan was simple. I would find the largest arena of homophobes possible, throw myself headfirst into their midst, and try to save at least one. One would be enough to convince me that, when all’s said and done, there was hope for all.
There was only one place that would fit the bill: the “comments” section under articles in the big-name online newspapers, breeding ground par excellence of our people’s worst natural instincts.
You see, every morning the strangest thing happens. Hundreds of people wake up with an unbearable and primordial need: the need to broadcast their morally-questionable opinions on any and all issues. When it comes to discussing minorities, especially homosexuals or immigrants, these people give their very best, inundating the web with prejudices, clichés, and, more often than not, insults free-of-charge. Then, pleased to have done their part in making our country a better place, they can begin their day.
The Blonde tried in every way possible to dissuade me from my philanthropic intent. According to her, certain people could not be made to reason: it would be like trying to convince the director of the Ku Klux Klan to sing in a gospel choir. But I didn’t think so. I was sure that, thanks to my irrefutable arguments and decided diplomatic prowess, I would be able to get the cloaked members of the Klan to intone all of Oh Happy Day. Smiling and clapping their hands to the beat.
So one morning, when the faithless Blonde wasn’t around, I turned on the computer and pulled up an online paper. Without even trying, I immediately stumbled across the jar of honey my little bears were looking for: an article about the umpteenth phantom legislative proposal on civil unions. Published online at 6:30 in the morning, by 7:30 it was already swarming with ferocious critics. And this despite the fact that we were talking about, that’s right, measly civil unions. Tell that to a Dane, and he’ll shit himself from laughing so hard.
To proceed with the selection of the chosen one—the diehard homophobe whom I would lovingly extract from the enveloping darkness—I first needed to calmly and rationally read through the flood of comments that, minute by minute, was rising with frightening speed. And here I discovered that what at first seemed to be a uniform maremagnum of homophobia was in fact subdivided into three distinct categories, each with a precise set of characteristics.
1. THE EXHIBITIONISTS
They’re your basic model. They include people who take great pleasure in declaring how much homosexuality disgusts them. They don’t express actual ideas, and their capacity for argument is akin to that of a three-year-old child in front of a plate of vegetables: gross, barf, poopy, pee-pee. It’s useless to talk with them, we’re at the level of “win or lose, Team Lazio, just kick ‘em into the dirt.” Sure, you could try to tell them that Rome also played well, without meaning any disrespect to Lazio. But I repeat, it’s a waste of time. You’d never get past: the referee is a dick, your mother’s a whore, and you, shit-faced Roman, should go burn in Hell.
The important thing when encountering people like this is to not take it personally. Ultimately they detest gay people just like they detest anyone different from them. Today it’s homosexuals, tomorrow it could be left-handed people or redheads.
Of course, the fact that I’m a part of all three of the those categories doesn’t exactly help things much.
2. THE MYSTICS
Really, these people have nothing against homosexuals, but they have received clear directives from on high—that is, from the Most High—because of which, like cavemen up above, they cannot stay away from any article that even remotely touches upon the topic of homosexuality.
The one difference between them and the exhibitionists is that they sprinkle their invectives with citations from Holy Scripture, citations more often than not invented or so vague that they could refer to just about anything: as much as to gays as to the wandering shepherds of Kirghizstan.
With them, too, any attempt at discussion is useless. Not to mention, when it comes to religion, I prefer to stand aside. After all, who am I—an unbaptized atheist—to speak about the word of God? It’s well-known that the Bible and Gospels are crawling with admonitions against homosexuality and, in particular, against same-sex civil unions. Everyone has heard Jesus’ parable on gay marriage. But did you know that the waters of the Red Sea closed with a crash to impede the passage of families with same-sex parents? Not to mention the two gay unicorns that obviously had to be thrown off of Noah’s Arc. And then, of course, there’s Leviticus. You can’t avoid Leviticus. It’s written black-on-white, passage 18:22: “Thou shalt not lie with man as one lies with woman: it’s abominable.”
Understood? A-b-o-m-i-n-a-b-l-e. Serious stuff, not like one of those little venial sins worth two or three Hail Mary’s.
It’s also true that in passage 11:10, eating any marine animal that doesn’t have scales and fins is also said to be abominable.
So here the most fervent believer will put a single shrimp—that abomination of abominations—at the same level as your average sodomite. And it’s here that I get a bit confused. Because if the goal of these inspired missionaries is to save humanity from the abomination of gays, crustaceans, and mollusks, they’re not doing their job very well. I mean, the gay part seems to me to be pretty well covered. But the rest of it?
Then again, maybe I’m the one who has misunderstood.
Our ostentatious indulgence of clams and prawns could instead be the first sign of the Church finally putting to rest some decidedly antiquated precepts.
So the next time you find yourself in front of a succulent plate of spaghetti al scoglio, recognize it for what it really is: an important contribution to the fight against homophobia.
3. THE HOBUTPHOBES
They are definitely my favorite category.
They’re the “I’m not homophobic, but…” ones, who, along with the substantial group of “I’m not racist, however…” folks, make up the largest rank of homophobes and racists in the country.
Finding them couldn’t be easier. Every self-respecting hobutphobe, in fact, has three distinct traits:
- they repeatedly assert that they have nothing against homosexuals;
- they brag about having swarms of gay friends; and
- they have an enormous amount of time on their hands.
This last characteristic makes them immediately recognizable in the mass of online morning commentators, because unlike the exhibitionist, who—after flinging his or her “poopy, shit, pee- pee,” feels more or less satisfied and moves on to rub salt in someone else’s wound—or the mystic, who—on a mission in the name of God—gets by on a few citations from scripture mixed in with insults, the hobutphobe doesn’t let it go. The hobutphobe responds, argues, and participates in the discussion even for weeks on end. And he or she tends to win by shear force of will.
As far as point a) goes, it’s worth noting that this peculiar category is seriously convinced of being friendly and open towards homosexuals. So much so that, if someone hints to them that being friendly and open is not exactly the same as belittling or, put simply, denying rights that should belong to everyone, hobutphobes get mad. But this is only because they are naturally a very sensitive sort of bunch, so you have to be careful when you reason with them. They also tend to suffer from an unsettling paranoia–persecution complex that makes them believe in mysterious organizations that operate in the shadows with the sole objective of taking away their free speech. And for the hobutphobe, free speech is more than a right; it’s an out-and-out duty.