WNYC Guest Blogger: Young Jean Lee
I’m thinking I need to make a gay show soon. The double-whammy of Prop 8 and Rick Warren is starting to give me a really bad feeling. Obama’s defense of his choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation sounds as reasonable as everything else he says, but I’m not buying it. His whole “agree to disagree” stance sounds okay on the surface, but if we follow that logic to its conclusion, then where does that leave us?
I didn’t vote for Obama because I want to agree to disagree. I voted for him because I want change. And agreeing to disagree on something like gun control is different from agreeing to disagree on gay rights or abortion. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no room for disagreement for the latter issues, and I know that the Christian right feels the same. But how powerful would it have been to have started Obama’s presidency with the message that homophobia would no longer be tolerated?
On the other hand, I’m a total hypocrite. Because I wouldn’t make a gay show now, right when we really need it. My parents are first-generation Korean-American Evangelical Christians, and my father has been battling a terminal illness for the past year. I won’t let my parents see my black identity-politics show, THE SHIPMENT, because of all the profane content, but so far there hasn’t been anything in the press that would shame them too badly. If I did a gay show, it would really upset them, and I just can’t bring myself to do anything that would add to their suffering right now. My parents don’t hate gay people—we have a gay relative whom they love and support—but they believe homosexuality is wrong. I watched PHILADELPHIA with them the last time I went home and we had a good conversation afterwards. My father said that the scene in which Tom Hanks listens to Maria Callas singing “La Mamma Morta” (which I had found excruciatingly corny) was particularly powerful for him, and after my mother and I started to get heated over the whole “sin” issue, we all finally agreed to disagree.
I’ve been thinking about black-white relations non-stop for the past two years, and now suddenly all I can think about is gay rights. What does it mean that I, a supposedly provocative artist who deals with political issues, feel that I can’t make a show about gay people? I don’t know, maybe I should talk to my parents about it.
I’m starting to get apprehensive about the inauguration, but I still have hope that Obama can redeem himself.