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I guess I’m just not as “friendly” as I’ve thought I am.
This revelation came to me one recent afternoon as I was lying in bed with one ailing leg propped up on pillows, eyes moving along the pages of a biography of Brigham Young, and one ear half-listening to public radio.
On the air, a professor from some American university was talking about the “results” of a survey he’d conducted. It stopped my reading.
Was I hearing this right? According to this esteemed (no doubt, since he was on public radio) scholar, heterosexual males who called their spouses their wives were not perceived as friendly enough by gays and lesbians. What people like me should be doing is dropping the whole “wife” thing in favor of “partner.” No matter that I view marriage between two consenting adults (leaving the Mormons’ “celestial marriages” practice aside for now) as a fundamental human right; I’m just not being friendly enough.
In a world awash in actual bias, this struck me as superfluous, at best. But it’s actually a lot worse than that. At its most basic level, it is exactly the kind of blather that allows cultural reactionaries to point their fingers at “political correctness,” which is a handy cover phrase for their bigotry.
But beyond that, it is insulting and slyly bullying, and a sign of, somewhat understandably, continuing insecurity.
I do not, and would not, ever require anyone to kowtow to the term I use for my marital status. That would be a perverse litmus test of someone’s (gay or straight) degree of friendliness.
In the end, I was left with only one question: was the professor’s research project government financed? If so, look for it as a target of derision on Fox.