By Leslie Robinson
A student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior has made an intriguing suggestion regarding us gay folks.
In a letter to the school newspaper, which she signed a “Proud Native American,” Kathleen Espersen advocated placing gays on reservations.
I want to give that idea the thought it deserves.
Wait now. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hasty. Perhaps this idea does have some merit.
Segregating us from the rest of society might allow us to create our own fabulous communities. I like to think we would create worlds of beauty and egalitarianism. Places so appealing that none of us would try to break out, but straight people would try to break in.
We might have to resort to patrolling our land, in rainbow jumpsuits, to keep the heteros out. But who could blame them for wanting in? I can picture a well-heeled straight woman tearing her Versace outfit as she hurls herself over a barbed wire fence. When asked why she did it, she’ll pant, “Is Sebastian here? I haven’t had a decent perm since he was rounded up! Broadway is dead, Hollywood is next, and there isn’t a chef left worthy of the name! Please don’t send me back!”
Nearby, hands try to extricate her husband from atop the barbed wire while he implores, “Is Sheila here? She’s the only one who can make my Jaguar’s engine purr!”
I bet Espersen didn’t realize what the world would truly look like without us. She thought only of the lovely freedom from difference she would experience if gays were herded away. In her letter she wrote that if the reservation idea didn’t fly, then gays should head back to the closet and “lock the door!” She really wants to be free of the sight, and thought, of us.
How tiresome it is to be about as welcome as an enema.
Anyway, the trouble is, Espersen doesn’t fully know what she’s asking. If we were to disappear into our own ghettos, society would lose a lot more than hairdressers and actors. America would be out bankers, postmen, doctors, engineers, nurses, plumbers, athletes, soldiers, politicians, teachers, firemen, businesspeople, clergymen. Americans would lose their children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
We are as integral to this country as motherhood and baseball. In fact, some of us ARE mothers who play baseball.
Espersen’s suggestion that gays be moved to reservations is more than an eye-opening idea. It also raises the obvious question: How can a Native American advocate that for anyone? The forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations was hardly a hoot for them. Perhaps she hankers after a dollop of revenge.
I’d like to know too what she wants done with gay Native Americans. Where should Indian LGBT, or Two-Spirit, folks live, the tribal reservation or the homosexual reservation? Such a quandary. It might come down to which has the better parties.
I hope she takes a class on Native American history that includes a section on how, in many Native societies, Two-Spirit people had important roles. Better yet, I hope she’s assigned to make a presentation in class on the subject. With a fellow Native American whose drag name is “Bernadette Starfeather.”
Back at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Espersen’s letter sparked a campus-wide debate over gayness and free speech. Some think the newspaper should have edited her letter. I don’t. She has a right to express what she thinks, however cruel and baffling.
Besides, now everyone knows where she stands. Right on quicksand.
Leslie Robinson lives in Seattle. E-mail her at [email protected], and check out more of her work at http://www.GeneralGayety.com.