A couple of weeks ago my husband and I had dinner with a group of my friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. If you had happened to see us all chatting and laughing, you'd quickly realize that we really enjoy each other's company, but you might also notice one other thing — that I was the only woman there that evening. That's because everyone else, except my husband and me, was gay.
Some people who know me as a wife and mother might be surprised to learn that I have a number of gay friends. Some of the more conservative people I know may think that they don't personally know anyone who's gay, but I bet they're wrong. Chances are that a coworker, grocery clerk, doctor, teacher, fellow church congregant, lawyer, accountant, etc. is gay and they just aren't aware of it.
That's because people who are gay aren't any different from those of us who are straight. (It's amazing that in the year 2010 I even have to make this statement.)
It's hard for me to believe that some small-minded people still think that all gay men look like members of the Village People or are limp-wrested and effeminate. They think that the only professions they hold are as hairdressers or interior and fashion designers.
They also believe that gay people shouldn't have the right to get married. Almost all of the friends who we saw that night were married, some with a California sanctioned marriage license and some without. One of the couples has been married for more than 20 years and the others have been together about 15 years — as have my husband and I. Why should their unions be considered inferior to ours?
Some would say that marriage is about having kids and, since gay men can't conceive, they can't get married. If that's one of the criteria used to issue a marriage license, then the state should require all straight men to take a potency test and all women to undergo a full battery of tests to determine fertility. Undoubtedly a large number of heterosexual couples would fail that standard.
One of the couples we saw the other night is in the process of adopting and they hope to be parents in the very near future. With all of the kids who linger in foster care without ever having a permanent home of their own and parents to love them, how could anyone deny same sex couples the opportunity to complete their families?
There are also those who say that gays shouldn't serve in the military. They claim it would harm morale to have gay men checking out their comrade's bodies. However, it's highly unlikely that when the bullets are flying that a gay soldier considers how his buddy's butt looks in his uniform.
I am a fan of the television show "Glee," which has a gay teen as one of its main characters. Some of the best shows of last season featured his storyline, primarily about his father learning to accept and support him.
From the teenagers I know, it seems that they are more accepting of differences. They don't care if someone is straight or gay, what religion they believe in, what color they are, or what country their family came from.
We adults still have a long way to go.
SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at email@example.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times