Kristy McNichol has come out as a lesbian — in order to help people.
Do me a favor and read that sentence again. In a rational world, that string of words would make no sense whatsoever. In a reasonable society, the apropos-of-nothing proclamations of a 1970s child star and all-but-forgotten TV actress wouldn’t even be interesting, much less beneficial. In the universe I’d like to one day inhabit, no one would care about the sexual preferences of a woman whose face you probably can’t even picture.
I have nothing against Kristy McNichol. As a girl, I had a poster of her and her brother Jimmy, whose feathered mane, hairless chest, gold chain necklace, and loving proximity to his all-American tomboy sister made him precisely effeminate enough to be irresistibly, nonthreateningly attractive to a 7-year-old girl. (Oh, the ironies.)
But it disappoints me that Kristy can release a statement a third of a century later saying she’s a lady lover and it makes the damned news cycle. Who cares if Kristy McNichol is into girls? Who cares if the Osmond brothers like to dress up in women’s clothing (I made that up, don’t sue me) or if a young Danny Bonaduce ran a prostitution ring out of his Partridge Family trailer (I made that up, too, but would you be surprised if it were true?).
In a rational world, we wouldn’t give a flying rainbow flag what a gal does to get her bell rung now and again. Whether she prefers Coke to Pepsi. Or Joanie to Chachi.
But this is no rational world. Is it? It’s a world where a Chicago cardinal compares a gay pride parade to a march of the KKK. Where a would-be president insists that children with gay parents would be better off with a parent in prison. Where a gay drum major at a Florida university is hazed to death on a bus, and gay teens take their own lives in the face of incessant bullying by self-loathing Neanderthals.
Ignorance can only be to blame. And I suppose it’s the tedious but imperative march against ignorance that drags has-been actresses out of retirement to stand before a still partially stupid nation, sigh, and say, “Yeah, remember me? So I’ve lived with and loved a woman for 20 years, and look, I don’t have horns, haven’t been smote down or anything. Can we all get over the gay thing yet?”
I’m paraphrasing, of course. But as absurd as McNichol’s publicized out-coming may seem, and unnecessary as it should be, she may be onto something. When you know gay folks — when you can point to ’em and say, “Wait, her? Well, she’s alright!” — then the ugly bug of ignorance unfurls into the bonny butterfly of tolerance.
Someone once told me, “I’m not homophobic; I just didn’t know any gay people when I was growing up.” I laughed out loud.
“Of course you did!” I snorted. “You just didn’t know they were gay.”
Gays are everywhere, folks. They’re your neighbor and your FedEx guy. They’re your nurse practitioner and your child’s homeroom teacher. They’re that nice massage therapist that you always request because you’d “feel uncomfortable if a man were rubbing you.” They’re your 1970s Tiger Beat poster girl.
So can we all get over the gay thing yet? Can we devote our headlines to more interesting matters yet? Homosexuality is a part of your life, whether you like it or not. It’s not that interesting. It’s not going away. All of which is also true of Danny Bonaduce.