[Note: I have to say, in all fairness, that my addressing this to Mr. Santorum
is not at all an attempt to demean him. It is a legitimate attempt to share my
experiences, and a challenge to have an honest conversation with him, and America. I think
Rick Santorum is a fine person, and human like the rest of us.]
I never gave homosexuality a great deal of thought while I was growing up. I didn't
understand it, but I figured it was their business and it didn't affect me, so I just
didn't give it much thought.
When I was 17, I attended a school-sponsored party where I noticed a circle of people
around a guy who was nearly in tears because they were teasing him because he was gay. I
didn't have any idea if he was gay or not, all I knew is that I would not stand by and
allow other people to persecute and demean and strip the dignity from another human being
in my presence.
People were used to me being that kind of person, so when I did it, they accepted what
I said to make them stop. I was a popular kid in school, so when I hung out with
folks, they generally tended to act a little more grown up. I made it okay for them to
exercise judgement instead of feeling pressure to go along with the crowd and fit in.
By the way, he wasn't gay. He was such a good tailor that all the girls wanted
him to make their prom dresses for them, and he was hands down the best cook who ever made
me a meal, and he had a high voice. The perfect target for adolescent peer persecution...
the same kind of "out of control" group mentality that led to the hazings in
It wasn't until around 1991 that I had to confront my real feelings about
homosexuality. I had to deal with my feelings, and observe the contradictions between our
judgements of the expression of love and human sexuality between straight and gay people.
It had been a number of years since I'd done any dating. I hadn't given up on love or
anything like that. But, after being in radio, and playing music and being around the
entertainment business, I found that people often were attracted to my "image",
and didn't even know me as a person. So, I decided to take a more low-key approach to
One day, I met this woman. We hit it off from the very beginning. It was one of
those quiet relationships, where we ended up having lunch together everyday, and I'd write
some music every once in a while and play it for her. There was no pressure.
It did not become sexual in any way. It was two people getting to know each other,
seemingly without secrets.
After 6-8 weeks went by, I even asked her if she was in any relationships or situations
that might prevent her from being in a relationship with me. She said no, and our
quiet friendship continued for weeks. Everyone at work figured that we were a legitimate
I went to her house to lounge around her pool one day... must have talked for 10 hours.
Her room mate, a very nice woman, fixed us a great dinner, too.
A few weeks later - I can't even remember why it was forced to the surface, and I
assume I can't remember because of the shock I felt - but she told me that she was a
lesbian, and her nice roommate was actually her partner.
I felt disappointed, I was sad, I felt a little betrayed, but mostly I felt a loss of a
relationship that I hoped would turn into something greater. I knew she wondered
"what might have happened" too. But it was clear, we were very good friends and
that would continue.
Still, I was a bit confused.
There was this one friend at work who I consider one of my best friends who was very
into philosophy, a very intelligent guy who I respected and enjoyed discussing things
So for about three weeks I talked to him frequently about my thoughts about
homosexuality and why I thought someone would be homosexual and I must have talked about
and rationalized and tried to understand everything there was to consider about
And one night, he said to me "Chuck, there's something I have to tell you".
I said, "Okay".
He said, "Chuck, I'm gay".
There must have been at least 2 minutes of silence. He was very patient with me.
He knew I was making a sincere effort to understand.
I remember telling him that I had to go do some more thinking, and he just sort of
chuckled, and said he'd see me at work the next day.
Over the next couple of weeks I even went
to group meetings online on
CompuServe to observe chat groups of people who got together to discuss their feelings and
difficulties in reconciling their sexuality with the expectations and opinions of their
parents and family. The most revealing thing was that when you removed the stigma
and stereotypes of what it means to be homosexual, these people, and their families,
mostly poured their hearts out because they felt so much love toward each other, and felt
angry that there was a barrier that prevented them from showing their love as they always
Now, I have to admit, I believe there are some people who are "talked into
it". There are some people who are not really homosexual, but just fell in love
with a person who happened to be of the same sex. Is that wrong?
But, for the most part, when I actually asked them why they were homosexual, what their
explanation was, the consistent answer I heard was "I don't know why. I just
am." They certainly embellished their explanations with experiences and observations,
but that was the bottom line.
I don't actually know why I'm heterosexual. I have beliefs about it. I've been
trained by my society to believe it's normal. I've had religious training that told me it
Frankly, I rejected one concept in general, that part of being right, everything is
necessarily right or wrong - simply because what I observe to be a more universal law of
my faith is that I have not been granted the authority to pass moral judgement on other
It is my responsibility, instead, to hold myself true to the principles at the
foundation of my own moral discipline or faith.
As you discovered when you voiced your views, Rick, you expressed a moral judgement,
which caused others to judge you. "Judge not lest ye be judged". That's the
world of equal but opposite reactions at play. It's a tool of divisiveness that tears
away, bit by bit, at the unity of this country.
As a leader, you gave other people an example that says it's
alright for them to judge other people for their differences, but worse, to strip those
people who are the object of the criticism of their right to exist - their God given
inalienable rights to the pursuit of happiness. God did not ask your opinion when He
brought them into this world, nor did He ask anyone else's opinions when He brought you
into this world.
If none of that makes sense to you, Rick, then I request that you
read the Ten Commandments.. in the Bible... and ponder the meaning of the Golden Rule and
how it applies to you... and your other firiends like Newt Gingrich
I have a birth defect that occurs in less than one per cent of the global population
that makes me kind of skinny. People tell me I should work out on weights, and they make
fun of me sometimes, just for being skinny, as if it made me an inferior person, like I
did something wrong that makes me not "average or normal". It's just the way God
made me. It's the body I was given. Why should I be ashamed or embarrassed about
There's no difference.
We all have our own beliefs and standards and expectations. In America, freedom of
speech and religion are sacred because they allow everyone to be and express who they are
and what they believe in. We have the right to believe anything we want, live our
lives the way we want to so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others to do the
same. It provides the liberty and equality that God, not the laws of
As a representative in government, it is important that we represent the interests of
all of the people we represent, whether we agree with them or not. As representatives, we
must not allow our own opinions to overrule the intent of the constitution. And we must
remember that the words we speak in public can shape not only opinions, but can be the
basis for action by others against fellow citizens.
To incite activities that would suppress or oppress the rights of other people would be
in conflict with the oath of office, possibly civil rights.
As a society, we need to recognize that when our preferences are honored as greater
than our inalienable rights, that it causes hostility and injustice.
About 2 weeks after finally feeling settled about my experiences with
my lesbian friends, who I still love very much, I got an email that contained
a joke about gay people. I instinctively began to reply with another joke, when I realized
that the person in the cubical next to me was my good friend who is gay. And I realized
that if it was so "built-in" to my psyche that gays seemed to be appropriate
objects of jokes and ridicule, that a lot of other people really hadn't considered other
people's rights and feelings too.
So, I composed a sensitive, thought provoking email that most people understood and
abided by. There were certainly no more jokes about gays. And, a couple of managers
thanked me for speaking up.
But the most poignant response came from a lesbian who confronted me and wanted to know
who I was to send out such an email. I told her I just wanted to promote a little more
sensitivity and understanding.
She said "Why didn't you just let that guy who sent the joke around get in
I told her I thought it was more beneficial to promote understanding and co-existence
over vindictive retribution. I understood her position as well, though I thought it was
sad that something must have happened to make her feel so bitter.
In the end, I always look to see what I can learn from everything I observe.
In this case, I finally came to realize that what I admired about gay and lesbian
people the most is that in order to fulfill and express themselves in every other way,
they have had to come to terms with their preferences and the stigmas attached to them,
and dig down deep to realize that any differences they have do not have anything to do
with their value as people.
It's an indication they've made a choice about how they'll live their lives, accepting
themselves as they are, trying to be the best people they can be, as God made them and
calls them to do what they do in life. They are, as we all must be, true to themselves.
I can respect that quality in anyone. And, Rick, that's what I respect about you, too.
There is one other thing I want to say about it. The women I met, the guys I know
who are not heterosexual, are all very productive, successful compassionate people. They
work in professional capacities with a great deal of diligence and accomplishment, live
their lives with a great deal of integrity and are great friends.
They volunteer to non-profit organizations to help other people... sounds like good
people to have as neighbors to me.
Leaders Agree to Propose Gay Marriage Law "According to the
interpretation of the courts these unions should be legal in Canada. We will ensure that
our legislation includes and legally recognizes the union of same-sex couples."
Court strikes down Texas sodomy law "The petitioners are entitled to
respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's
majority. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making
their private sexual conduct a crime."
Frist supports constitutional
amendment for gay marriage ban Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said the Supreme
Court's decision last week on gay sex threatens to make the American home a place where
criminality is condoned. "Generally, I think matters such as sodomy should be
addressed by the state legislatures," Frist said. "That's where those decisions
-- with the local norms, the local mores -- are being able to have their input in
[Note to Bill: Not in regard to human and civil rights. That's a federal matter. This
is not about crime or privacy, it's about human rights. And, now you know where I draw the
line on states' rights.]