Monday, July 7, 2008

Gay History Minute

Gays are shortchanged in terms of history. Blacks have a whole History Month in February, and a lot to celebrate: the underground railroad, Sojourner Truth, the end of slavery, Martin Luther King. Jewish history goes back thousands of years, with some of its top stories even making the Bible.

And then there's the gays. We've got Stonewall. And . . . and . . .

Well. That was quick!

See, here's the problem. Progress with most minority groups involves speeches, or protests, or sit-ins. But some of the biggest strides made in gay equality were made by dudes who just wanted to get laid. These aren't exactly inspiring, heartfelt stories you can teach second-graders: "It was a man named Barney Fluehardy who filed the protest with the ACLU, because he thought, dagnabit, red-blooded Americans have an inalienable right to hide in bushes and service hunky truckers."

Two names that should be boldfaced in our history books are John Lawrence and Tyron Garner. They're the couple who overturned the Texas sodomy laws. Since the details didn't make the history books, it's impossible to confirm the real story, but here's the oral history being passed around. (All dialog is fabricated.)

John Lawrence and Tyron Garner meet in a gay bar in Austin, Texas, and pretty soon they become serious. They are both intelligent, attractive, and politically active, and they hate how gays are second-class citizens in Texas. They live under constant threat of the oppressive sex laws: the police can burst into their homes at any time, hauling off even two consenting adults for "crimes against nature."

One night the pair are celebrating their first anniversary at a fancy restaurant when Mr. Lawrence touches on the subject. "I hate how the law forces us to live in fear," he complains. "But I'm not afraid! I want to tell the whole world that we're in love, and if they don't like it they can go to hell! I want to challenge the sodomy laws, and tell America in no uncertain terms that we have an inalienable right to express our love."

"I applaud your bravery, darling," Mr. Garner replies, savoring the grassiness of his Chardonnay. "But that's impossible! I mean, how could we get the police to arrest us while we're making love?"

Mr. Lawrence chuckles. "Yes, I guess you're right," he replies. The question circles his mind until the waiter brings their crème brûlées, and finally a bolt of inspiration hits. "I've got it!" he barks. "When we're in bed, we'll call the police and say there's a disturbance. They'll have to come out! We'll say there's a burglar skulking around outside."

Mr. Garner's face lights up. "And we'll leave the door open! They'll have no choice but to come in and investigate, and they'll find me with my dick up your bum. Then we'll get to the Supreme Court, and we'll get to fight for our love!"

Mr. Lawrence gasps in amazement. "That's why I love you, my darling," he declares. They ping their wineglasses together as a question darkens Mr. Lawrence's glow. "Wait. Your dick up my bum?"

The pair enlist a sympathetic neighbor to call the police, since being old-school gays Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Garner aren't used to phoning people while they're having sex. And the plan works like a charm. Two officers enter the house with guns drawn, and in the bedroom they find Mr. Garner's penis inside a rather testy Mr. Lawrence. The pair are arrested entr'acte and dragged to jail, where presumably they're put in separate cells. They doggedly fight their case for five years, all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 2003 the sodomy law is overturned.

You'll never see this episode reenacted on Law and Order. This is a story you'll never see on some network's Gay History Minute. This will never be made into a movie starring Will Smith and Tom Hanks.

No, it's folks like Rosa Parks who get all the press. Who get sculptures in public parks, and their faces on stamps. Maybe I'm biased, but I think Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Garner are even braver than she was.

Because when Ms. Parks decided it was time to change history, she just had to sit on a chair.


pec said...

I remember reading this a while back.

Mega hairy muscle hugs of repeating this bit of gay history.

Yea, gay history seems to be a fleeting moment, just like many relationships.

We need studs like you to keep it all focused.

buff said...

Thanks again. WOOOF

David said...

If I recall correctly from the court transcripts, that dialogue is nearly word for word.

Sheesh, I feel so blandly named after the first two commenters. Perhaps I should go by the handle of "glute."