OETA’s Stateline documentary “Unresolved” is an excellent, thirty-minute look at the gay community in Oklahoma. Its title points out an important fact about Oklahoma. Despite the overwhelming approval of State Question 711—the defense of marriage amendment—these are times of significant cultural transformation in terms of gay rights in our state and country.
The documentary is as cutting-edge as you can get in the mainstream media in Oklahoma. Local prominent members of the GLBT Community, from Paul Barby to Jim Roth appear in the documentary, and the program tries to put the State Question 711 in some perspective, though it is difficult not to view the measure as both hateful and sanctioned, legalized discrimination. The show also gives a very sympathetic depiction of a lesbian couple with a child.
As the documentary points, even state business leaders are concerned Oklahoma will be tarnished by the legalized bigotry inherent in the amendment. As I have argued for years, if you want to diversify the economy, you have to accept diversity and tolerance. Even the state Chamber of Commerce types get this. Recent studies show, as cited by the documentary, that cities with the most business growth are considered diverse and accepting of different lifestyles.
The cultural transformation I mentioned is happening throughout the country, from massive, sympathetic depictions of gay and lesbian relationships in the popular culture to gay-marriage initiatives.
Oklahoma is no different. The Gay Pride Parade in Oklahoma City this year was bigger than ever. Many in our local gay community are challenging a request by a state legislator that our local library system reshelve gay-themed children’s books into adult sections of the library. Age-appropriate, gay-themed books have been given to the Oklahoma City Public Schools to challenge the status quo in the state’s second largest school district. And in the most recent past, the gay community has stood up against those city officials, such as former Mayor Kirk Humphries, who wanted to remove banners celebrating Gay Pride month.
This cultural transformation and these individual fights are not going away. They are a part of the social fabric right now, especially because the right-wing will continue to exploit cultural wedge issues to manipulate ignorant voters into voting against their own financial issues.
There will come a day when all these recently passed constitutional amendments about gay marriage throughout the country will be considered archaic, crude, and ugly.