Ick! That Guy is Married to a Dude!

George Takei of both Star Trek and Facebook fame has penned a beautiful and insightful essay in the Washington post about the “ick factor” and how we our society has treated homosexuals.

Here is a taste:

Whenever one group discriminates against another — keeping its members out of a club, a public facility or an institution — it often boils down to a visceral, negative response to something unfamiliar. I call this the “ick.” Indeed, the “ick” is often at the base of the politics of exclusion. Just this March, for example, a young woman at an anti-same-sex-marriage rally in Washington was asked to write down, in her own words, why she was there. Her answer: “I can’t see myself being with a woman. Eww.”

Frankly, as a gay man, I can’t see myself being with one, either. But it’s usually not gays who write the laws. If this woman were in Congress, her personal discomfort might infect her thinking — and her lawmaking. Gays kissing? Ick.

George Takei

The Supreme Court may be the ultimate interpreter of the rules, but it is still the court of public opinion that matters. And public opinion has shifted — 51 percent of Americans now favor same-sex marriage, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, and 42 percent oppose it. Reflecting this slim majority, Wednesday’s 5 to 4 ruling made clear that “ick” is not a proper basis for constitutional jurisprudence. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his opinion, warned against this specifically, noting that when “determining whether a law is motived by an improper animus . . . ‘[d]iscriminations of an unusual character’ especially require careful consideration.” Kennedy was not prepared to allow the “ick” to remain law, knowing that the result is often embarrassing when judged by history.

For more than 70 years, I’ve watched the “ick” infect American life in a variety of ways and concluded that it’s little more than a function of unfamiliarity. Once upon a time, you never saw two men kissing — for that, you’d have to visit an adult video store.

Even I was taken aback the first time I saw two men being affectionate in public. The “ick” runs deep, instilling unease even in those for whom an act is natural. When I was a child, I knew that my sexuality was not something I could reveal to others. Later, as a young actor, I knew I could not be open about it without serious consequences for my career. It wasn’t until 2005 — when I was in my late 60s — that I came out.

Read the complete essay “A defeat for DOMA — and the end of ‘ick’” here.

Whether this actually marks the end of “ick” is still to be seen. Yet, we are clearly much closer.

Thanks, Mr. Sulu.

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About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • Douglas Hunter

    As the reactions have come in to the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, it’s clear that the Ick is alive and well. But I think the Ick factor when it comes to gay folks is far more muted than it is when trainsgender folks step up and ask for their needs / rights to be addressed, the number of hate crimes transgender folks face is horrendous. I’ve even seen people who are supporters of gay rights express the ick when it comes to transgender folks.

  • Douglas Hunter

    sorry for the typos!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Hey, Chris: thanks for the welcome on Facebook. It’s nice to meet a blogger who welcomes commenters that agree with him as well as those that don’t!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

      I am a blogger. I am aiming for reaction. All are welcome. My hope is that comments, even those I do not like, will bring others into the conversation. Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

      (Of course, comments I really do not like…allow me to be snarky….my favorite hobby.)

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Kristi at Patheos suggested that you might want to have some sort of debate/discussion via blog posts. Let me know if this sounds interesting.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

          She mentioned the same thing to me. She is great! I am very much interested. I am moving this month, so I cannot commit to anything at the moment. I will be in touch.


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