This community opinion was contributed by Mia Vodanovich. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors
On May 6, I opened a Benitolink article chronicling another of Randy Logue’s grievances against Hollister and San Benito County: the city council had chosen once more to fly the gay pride flag in front of City Hall. Mr. Logue’s key argument took issue with the notion that flying the gay pride flag would further divide our county and will ultimately destroy the country by splitting us in half like a proverbial log. He continued to write about how assimilation in the United States had fallen to the acceptance of other cultures, lifestyles, and that the acceptance of what we view as “other” is causing us to no longer cling to our valuable identities as Americans. In short, we as a county and as a country are going to fall apart if we allow the gays to be proud of their “immoral, unnatural” existence.
Needless to say, I have some problems with Mr. Logue’s argument about the LGBTQ flag.
It seems that his biggest issue with flying a flag which represents a population of human beings who have been persecuted for the last century in this country for their identities (not their “practices,” which is apparently how Mr. Logue views homosexuality), is that everyone wants to be something other than American before they are American. People want to be known for also being gay, or Asian, or Latinx, and Mr. Logue asserts this is what divides our country. We are a salad bowl and not a patriotic melting pot any longer. The analogy for American greatness and diversity has become bastardized; but for too long the melting pot analogy requires in particular people of color and the LGBTQ+ community to blunt their identities, their cultures, and their humanity in order to fit the blond haired, blue eyed American standard for pulling oneself up by his bootstraps and fitting a prescribed lifestyle that is one-size-fits-all.
The factual truth is, in this country, diversity means that we are different by birth, and that’s okay. Some people are born into a non-Western, non-Uncle Sam-approved culture, and assimilation should mean that they can feel safe practicing the holidays, traditions, dresses, foods that come from these cultures. Likewise, some people are born with an inclination not to be attracted to a gender that Disney movies and Hollywood classics preach is the end-all be-all of romantic happiness for the gender with which that person was born. As a part Filipina, I should not be ashamed for dancing at our family’s fiestas, so as a bisexual woman, I should not be ashamed for wearing a pink, purple, and blue flag. This does not make me any less American; I am proud to freely speak about my hopes for this country, my experiences, my own American dream. I am proud to oppose speech that seeks to divide Americans by engendering intolerance.
Intolerance is also a prominent topic in Mr. Logue’s community opinion. He claims to tolerate gay people’s existence, just as he tolerates the existence of dope smokers and people who think that wearing a mask is an act of consideration to their neighbors. However, Mr. Logue has a flawed conception of what “tolerance” means. If you tolerate someone, you do not vote to make their lives more difficult. If you tolerate someone, you do not write articles claiming that their lifestyles should be permanently hidden away, never asked or spoken of. There is a layer of acceptance that comes with tolerance; by tolerating someone’s existence, I accept that they have the right to live their lives peacefully and happily without my beliefs interfering with their well-being, and I expect the same respect. I can tolerate human beings who disagree with some of my political views; however, I cannot tolerate human beings who support that gay or trans or queer people should no longer have their civil rights, or that women’s bodies are not within their own autonomy, or that multiple races cannot coexist without violence.
If Mr. Logue wants us to give up our individualism to be united again, he needs to consider what that individualism constitutes. If we truly care for the greater good, we do wear our masks, accept our proverbial siblings for who they are, and forego the mistaken idea that the America of the 1950s was any better than it is now, where many of us are allowed at last to eat in restaurants alongside people of all heritages, fall in love with someone regardless of their gender identity, seek a career in a workplace that suits our talents and ambitions rather than limits us by our race or gender.
So we fly the pride flag, to honor folks you may see as fundamentally “different,” but who have every right to this country as you do. And should we fly any other flag beneath the stars and stripes in celebration of their ability to overcome whatever injustices have been done to them, who are proud of their heritage and existence despite the struggles imposed upon them by overwhelmingly intolerant groups, sometimes including our own government, we will do so with love. Queer people didn’t choose to be queer. But we can choose to love.