Monday, October 11, 2010

"Those who find themselves ridiculous, sit down next to me."

The Song: "Sit Down," James. Words & music by James (Tim Booth, Jim Glennie, Larry Gott, Saul Davies, Mark Hunter, David Baynton-Power, Andy Diagram). Single, 1989.
How/when acquired: Purchased MP3, 2009
Listen/watch here.

James played the HFStival in 1994, and one of my most vivid memories of that day is of dozens, maybe hundreds of people literally skipping around one of the upper balconies of RFK Stadium to this song. Listening to it again makes me want to skip even now.

As I watch the coverage of this year's election cycle, what surprises me most is the tenacity of this idea that people should conform to some idealized standard lifestyle. The Republican candidate for Governor of New York is dismissing the "homosexual lifestyle," rather than talking about whatever he might have learned from dealing with the consequences of his own life choices. The independent candidate for Senator from the state of Florida got married, rather than ignore or address rumors about his personal life. Everyone seems so sure that American voters are unwilling to accept candidates as they are, rather than holding them to some weird 1950s-era standard of conformity that no longer seems to apply to anyone. That assumption, more than anything else, is causing some truly bizarre distortions in our public discourse.

Or maybe it's just me. It's true, as a close relative said recently, that my circle of acquaintances is slightly more bohemian than average. But am I really that unusual? Doesn't everyone now have friends and relatives living in ways that would have shocked 1950s suburbia? Was the idea of "normal" ever more than an illusion?

Today is National Coming Out Day, among other things. As a straight woman, I look forward to the day when we don't even need this, when it's just no big deal to be whatever kind of responsible, loving adult you are, with no need to explain it or justify it to anyone who doesn't ask.

We're all a little ridiculous. If you're willing to admit it and enjoy it, sit right next to me.

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