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When I was about 16 years old I can remember flipping through channels at home during summer vacation, looking for a movie to watch on HBO -- and how many of you remember "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"? Oh yeah, great movie, right? -- Well, I saw Matthew Broderick on the screen, and so I thought, "Sweet! Ferris Bueller. I'll watch this!" It wasn't Ferris Bueller. And forgive me Matthew Broderick, I know you've done other movies besides Ferris Bueller, but that's how I remember you; you're Ferris. But you weren't doing Ferris-y things at the time; you were doing gay things at the time.
He was in a movie called "Torch Song Trilogy." And "Torch Song Trilogy" was based on a play about this drag queen who essentially was looking for love. Love and respect -- that's what the whole film was about.
And as I'm watching it, I'm realizing that they're talking about me. Not the drag queen part -- I am not shaving my hair for anyone -- but the gay part. The finding love and respect, the part about trying to find your place in the world. So as I'm watching this, I see this powerful scene that brought me to tears, and it stuck with me for the past 25 years. And there's this quote that the main character, Arnold, tells his mother as they're fighting about who he is and the life that he lives.
"There's one thing more -- there's just one more thing you better understand. I've taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture, I can even pat myself on the back when necessary, all so I don't have to ask anyone for anything. There's nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect, and anyone who can't give me those two things has no place in my life."
I remember that scene like it was yesterday; I was 16, I was in tears, I was in the closet, and I'm looking at these two people, Ferris Bueller and some guy I'd never seen before, fighting for love. When I finally got to a place in my life where I came out and accepted who I was, and was really quite happy, to tell you the truth, I was happily gay and I guess that's supposed to be right because gay means happy too. I realized there were a lot of people who weren't as gay as I was -- gay being happy, not gay being attracted to the same sex. In fact, I heard that there was a lot of hate and a lot of anger and a lot of frustration and a lot of fear about who I was and the gay lifestyle.
Now, I'm sitting here trying to figure out "the gay lifestyle," "the gay lifestyle," and I keep hearing this word over and over and over again: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle. I've even heard politicians say that the gay lifestyle is a greater threat to civilization than terrorism. That's when I got scared. Because I'm thinking, if I'm gay and I'm doing something that's going to destroy civilization, I need to figure out what this stuff is, and I need to stop doing it right now. (Laughter)
So, I took a look at my life, a hard look at my life, and I saw some things very disturbing. (Laughter) And I want to begin sharing these evil things that I've been doing with you, starting with my mornings. I drink coffee. Not only do I drink coffee, I know other gay people who drink coffee. I get stuck in traffic -- evil, evil traffic. Sometimes I get stuck in lines at airports.
I look around, and I go, "My God, look at all these gay people! We're all trapped in these lines! These long lines trying to get on an airplane! My God, this lifestyle that I'm living is so freaking evil!"
I clean up. This is not an actual photograph of my son's room; his is messier. And because I have a 15-year-old, all I do is cook and cook and cook. Any parents out there of teenagers? All we do is cook for these people -- they eat two, three, four dinners a night -- it's ridiculous! This is the gay lifestyle.
And after I'm done cooking and cleaning and standing in line and getting stuck in traffic, my partner and I, we get together and we decide that we're gonna go and have some wild and crazy fun. (Laughter) We're usually in bed before we find out who's eliminated on "American Idol." We have to wake up and find out the next day who's still on because we're too freaking tired to hear who stays on. This is the super duper evil gay lifestyle. Run for your heterosexual lives, people. (Applause)
When my partner, Steve, and I first started dating, he told me this story about penguins. And I didn't know where he was going with it at first. He was kind of a little bit nervous when he was sharing it with me, but he told me that when a penguin finds a mate that they want to spend the rest of their life with, they present them with a pebble -- the perfect pebble. And then he reaches into his pocket, and he brings this out to me. And I looked at it, and I was like, this is really cool.
So I wear this whenever I have to do something that makes me a little nervous, like, I don't know, a TEDx talk. I wear this when I am apart from him for a long period of time. And sometimes I just wear it just because.
How many people out there are in love? Anyone in love out there? You might be gay. (Laughter) Because I, too, am in love, and apparently that's part of the gay lifestyle that I warned you about. (Applause) You may want to tell your spouse. Who, if they're in love, might be gay as well. How many of you are single? Any single people out there? You too might be gay! Because I know some gay people who are also single. It's really scary, this gay lifestyle thing; it's super duper evil and there's no end to it! It goes and goes and engulfs!
It's really quite silly, isn't it? That's why I'm so happy to finally hear President Obama come out and say (Applause) that he supports -- (Applause) that he supports marriage equality. It's a wonderful day in our country's history; it's a wonderful day in the globe's history to be able to have an actual sitting president say, enough of this -- first to himself, and then to the rest of the world. It's wonderful.
But there's something that's been disturbing me since he made that remark just a short time ago. And that is, apparently, this is just another move by the gay activists that's on the gay agenda. And I'm disturbed by this because I've been openly gay now for quite some time. I've been to all of the functions, I've been to fundraisers, I've written about the topic, and I have yet to receive my copy of this gay agenda. (Laughter) I've paid my dues on time, (Laughter) I've marched in gay pride flags parades and the whole nine, and I've yet to see a copy of the gay agenda. It's very, very frustrating, and I was feeling left out, like I wasn't quite gay enough.
And I said to myself, "LZ, for so long, you have been denied this. When you get in front of this crowd, you're gonna share the news. You're gonna spread the gay agenda so no one else has to wonder, what exactly is in the gay agenda? What are these gays up to? What do they want?"
So, without further ado, I will present to you, ladies and gentlemen -- now be careful, 'cause it's evil -- a copy, the official copy, of the gay agenda. (Music) The gay agenda, people! (Applause) There it is! Did you soak it all in? The gay agenda.
Some of you may be calling it, what, the Constitution of the United States, is that what you call it too? The U.S. Constitution is the gay agenda. These gays, people like me, want to be treated like full citizens and it's all written down in plain sight. I was blown away when I saw it. I was like, wait, this is the gay agenda? Why didn't you just call it the Constitution so I knew what you were talking about? I wouldn't have been so confused; I wouldn't have been so upset. But there it is. The gay agenda. Run for your heterosexual lives.
Did you know that in all the states where there is no shading that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered can be kicked out of their apartments for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered? That's the only reason that a landlord needs to have them removed, because there's no protection from discrimination of GLBT people. Did you know in the states where there's no shading that you can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered? Not based upon the quality of your work, how long you've been there, if you stink, just if you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. All of which flies in the face of the gay agenda, also known as the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, this little amendment right here:
I'm looking at you, North Carolina. But you're not looking at the U.S. Constitution. This is the gay agenda: equality. Not special rights, but the rights that were already written by these people -- these elitists, if you will. Educated, well-dressed, (Laughter) some would dare say questionably dressed. (Laughter) Nonetheless, our forefathers, right? The people that, we say, knew what they were doing when they wrote the Constitution -- the gay agenda, if you will. All of that flies in the face of what they did.
That is the reason why I felt it was imperative that I presented you with this copy of the gay agenda. Because I figured if I made it funny, you wouldn't be as threatened. I figured if I was a bit irreverent, you wouldn't find it serious. But when you see the map, and you see our state of Michigan -- it's legal to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, that it's legal to remove someone from their home because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, then you realize that this whole conversation about marriage equality is not about stripping someone's rights away, it's about granting them the rights that [have] already been stated. And we're just trying to walk in those rights that have already been stated, that we've already agreed upon. There are people living in fear of losing their jobs so they don't show anyone who they really are right here at home. This isn't just about North Carolina; all those states that were clear, it's legal.
If I could brag for a second, I have a 15-year-old son from my marriage. He has a 4.0. He is starting a new club at school, Policy Debate. He's a budding track star; he has almost every single record in middle school for every event that he competed in. He volunteers. He prays before he eats. I would like to think, as his father -- and he lives with me primarily -- that I had a little something to do with all of that. I would like to think that he's a good boy, a respectful young man. I would like to think that I've proven to be a capable father. But if I were to go to the state of Michigan today, and try to adopt a young person who is in an orphanage, I would be disqualified for only one reason: because I'm gay. It doesn't matter what I've already proven, what I can do with my heart. It's because of what the state of Michigan says that I am that I am disqualified for any sort of adoption. And that's not just about me, that's about so many other Michiganders, U.S. citizens, who don't understand why what they are is so much more significant than who they are.
This story just keeps playing over and over and over again in our country's history. There was a time in which, I don't know, people who were black couldn't have the same rights. People who happened to be women didn't have the same rights, couldn't vote. There was a point in our history in which, if you were considered disabled, that an employer could just fire you, before the Americans with Disabilities Act. We keep doing this over and over again.
And so here we are, 2012, gay agenda, gay lifestyle, and I'm not a good dad and people don't deserve to be able to protect their families because of what they are, not who they are. So when you hear the words "gay lifestyle" and "gay agenda" in the future, I encourage you to do two things: One, remember the U.S. Constitution, and then two, if you wouldn't mind looking to your left, please. Look to your right. That person next to you is a brother, is a sister. And they should be treated with love and respect. Thank you.
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In a humorous talk with an urgent message, LZ Granderson points out the absurdity in the idea that there's a "gay lifestyle," much less a "gay agenda." (Filmed at TEDxGrandRapids.)
CNN and ESPN columnist LZ Granderson is a celebrated voice on sports, race and gay rights. Full bio »