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May 1, 2012 4:25 AM   Subscribe

Zach Walls would like some of us to host a dinner.

On June 22, Zach Walls has proposed that "straight ally couples" host a dinner for gay couples and some straight folks who are still "on the fence" about "this whole gay thing". (Quotes are faithful if inexact.) No politics, no religion: Just folks sharing a meal, a few bottles of wine, and some common humanity. What a great start!

Sign-up appears to be broken at this very moment. I'm watching closely.

(First FP on the blue. Be gentle. And slow if you're busy typing up the same thing.)
posted by phrits (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I probably should have mentioned I heard of this on last night's Daily Show.
posted by phrits at 4:27 AM on May 1, 2012

Great idea! It would also be nice to see the CivilDiscourse tag more often.
posted by TedW at 4:39 AM on May 1, 2012

it seems a wee bit patronising really. The sentiment is obvious -- some straight people are on the fence because they have not had exposure to gay people beyond the media. The action is also obvious: put those straight people in a relaxed situation where they can meet gay people and connect a real person to a cause.

Yet, it does seem a bit like guilty until proven innocent, "Gay people, come show yourselves to straight people. Show them how gay relationships are just like straight relationships. Tip them off the fence into the right garden."

I realise it takes initiatives like this to change things and that the road to equal rights is not a fair road, but it's uncomfortable to think that the message to gay people is to get out there and fight for themselves. Straight people that are in favour of gay marriage should fight alongside their loved ones and friends, not play negotiator between the two sides.

posted by nickrussell at 4:43 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Patronising, exactly. And not exactly the most fun idea for a dinner party - "hey I can't wait to go to dinner with people who are 'on the fence' about my civil rights!". Isn't Thanksgiving Dinner enough?

It's like white liberals organizing a dinner party for their black friends and their semi-racist white friends.
posted by Umami Dearest at 5:03 AM on May 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

I realise it takes initiatives like this to change things and that the road to equal rights is not a fair road, but it's uncomfortable to think that the message to gay people is to get out there and fight for themselves. Straight people that are in favour of gay marriage should fight alongside their loved ones and friends, not play negotiator between the two sides.

....How is encouraging straight couples to host these dinners sending a message that "gay people should get out there and fight for themselves"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:19 AM on May 1, 2012

I hadn't thought about, but do almost understand, the "patronizing" criticism. And to assume that the "on the fence" folks are the only ones with anything to learn is probably a little shortsighted.

That said, it's certainly been my life experience that most of us can get along with individual others. I fail to see any great harm in putting humans in such a mutually friendly, social setting, regardless of who hosts the meal.

Take politics and religion off the conversational table--there may have been a time when that was simply considered common courtesy--and you end up with reasonable people enjoying the interests they have in common.
posted by phrits at 5:36 AM on May 1, 2012

Re: Why straight people hosting? Simply for the bandwagon. Really, who was Zach Walls? Some straight-A kid with a pair of gay Moms. There are hundreds of folks just like him who didn't happen to land on a YouTube meme.

But the fact that he stepped out of a Normal Rockwell painting--gosh! with two Moms!?--opened a lot of ignorant eyes. And ignorance is really what this fight is all about.
posted by phrits at 5:42 AM on May 1, 2012

I think it'd be patronising if the event was framed as some big Meet-a-Gay dinner with themed food and whatnot. It's entirely possible to avoid all of that and just have a dinner, or any other social event, and going a little out of your way to invite people who may be in differnet social circles. Instead of orchestrating some overt discussion, you just create a situation where it may come up.

There's definitely a right and a wrong way to go about it.
posted by twirlypen at 6:37 AM on May 1, 2012

How many people with close gay friends want someone who's "on the fence" about basic human rights in their houses?
posted by cmoj at 6:40 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

What it really boils down to is "host more dinner parties and invite friends who don't know each other but who you think would like each other" and that sounds like a pretty great idea to me.
posted by robcorr at 6:48 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wish he'd have taken the opportunity last night on "The Daily Show" to criticize the Boy Scouts of America for excluding homosexuals. The Scouting program was obviously a large part of his life and at least partially responsible for making him the man he is. As an Eagle Scout, he has an obligation to stand up for what is right. I look forward to reading his book.
posted by ColdChef at 7:32 AM on May 1, 2012

"Why the Boy Scouts' Expulsion of Jennifer Tyrrell, a Lesbian Den Mother, Hits Close to Home for Me"
posted by ColdChef at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2012

I think this is a little patronizing.

But then, it's basically what happened to me. We went to look at an apartment, and the fabulous gay men who lived downstairs took a shine to me and my girlfriend mostly me, because I am devastatingly handsome and invited us to stay for their dinner party.

The best part was that I had no idea at all they were gay. None. Totally clueless. Even though that GF and I split up, we talk often and she still gives me shit about it.

We had a great time and took the apartment and moved in upstairs and those few years we lived there were some of the best I've had.

Anyway, that event was very instrumental in helping me overcome my homophobia; so I can understand why some people might want to encourage it. But it still feels wrong - I'm not a bus driver; my job is not to take people to school.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:49 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Zach Wahl seems to be a nice kid, and I spend some time with evangelicals who are on the fence about my civil rights, mostly because of complicated interior politics stuff. But Zach will never tell people to go the radical fairy commune, or to the back room of the eagle, or to lesbian pagan rituals, or to a whole set of cultures of resistances that refuse straight discourse--and he seems to want to encourage lgbtq folks to become straight, but you know I am not sure as a queer fellow who grew up in the Midwest, if my goal in life is to be married with children in Iowa, and there seems to be a lot of pressure for that to occur. Can I be invited to a dinner where Mr Wahl tries to convince me to give up my culture for bourgeois complacency is a good idea?
posted by PinkMoose at 12:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

@Pogo_Fuzzybutt. Point taken on driving that bus. I suspect a large piece of my excitement here is that I'm a rather good cook, and one of my favorite things to do is meet new people over dinner in my home. Weird, I know.
posted by phrits at 3:39 PM on May 1, 2012

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