Because Blogger's "Adult warning" often goes into a perpetual loop (isn't working properly), I will be making all new posts at my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ page and my group.
(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cultural Conservatism

As I write this, it's a mere 8C (that's 46F for Americans).  Tomorrow is the 4th of July in Oz (and a few hours later in the US, thanks to the International Date Line).  Bastille day, France's big national holiday is on 14th July.  While it might be high summer in North America or France, here it is mid winter.

It made me think about cultural conservatism.  By this I don't mean conservatism as a political ethos, I mean that cultures change slowly, sometimes very slowly.  So, just as we are in mid-winter here and wearing sweaters and long-johns, so Christmas in the southern hemisphere takes place in midsummer.  Yet Ozzies continue to produce, buy and send Christmas cards with pictures of robins, snow, Father Christmases in thick fur-lined cloaks.  Even the Christmas tree, a symbol in the northern hemisphere of rejuvenation, of the spring to come, holds pride of place in our living rooms, decked with gold and silver baubles and lights to illumine the gloom of a northern hemisphere midwinter when in fact outside it's 40C (104F) and the light is glaring white and all you want to do is swim or lie in a shaded room with the blinds drawn.

Yet White Ozzies have been here over 200 years.  We still carry on the cultural traditions of our long distant ancestral lands, despite the seasons being arse-about-face.  Cultures are conservative.  They change glacially.

So the fact that being gay has gone from a crime, a social disgrace and a psychologist-defined "disease" to be accepted and normal in just 40 years is very striking.  Of course there are places where being gay is still a crime, where the ChrisTaliban continue to perversely justify death and beatings up and imprisonment for gays as "Christian" and "loving" and other places where the MusTaliban do the same.  Yet in many many places young men don't even regard the once pejorative term "gay" (as in "that's so gay", for example) as an insult.  "I'm straight-ish," they say.  "I'm bi-curious".  "I kiss my male friends, big deal." Step by inexorable step gay rights are becoming the norm.  

[chart from Box Turtle Bulletin]

Cultures change slowly.  Yet something once as reviled and despised as gayness moves from the extreme edge into the broad centre of acceptance.  As the chart above shows, in America, step by step, gays have been freed.  Of course, the US is behind the curve on this.  Europe, at least the western half, is far ahead.  On the other hand, Africa and the middle East are far behind.  But just as the logic of freedom for whites inevitably in the end meant, logically, that those same rights would have to be--and were--given to blacks, so it is that the inexorable logic of human rights means that we homos will be given the right to marry and to parent.   Young people in the advanced world are already there.  The victory for gay marriage and gay rights in New York State in the last week lights the road forward.

The battle is far from won.  But we can see the victory podium shining plain.  On this dismal midwinter's day, I'm cheered by it.

We shall overcome.     

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