The Purity Bubble is a Bleak Place

Recently, the Hallmark Channel got itself in a bind with the vocal minority group of conservative Evangelicals who oppose same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ equality, when it aired a commercial that included a same-sex wedding and two women kissing. After a number of these people squawked about the ad, Hallmark decided to pull the commercials – but in a matter of a day or two, they reversed that decision and apologized for the decision to yank the ads. In a separate matter, the head of Hallmark had recently been quoted as saying the network would be open to future programming featuring same-sex couples.

In the midst of the uproar from the conservatives, I saw many of them leave comments on the Hallmark Channel’s official Facebook page saying basically the same thing – that they were upset that “the gays” were intruding into the safe space that they took the network to be for exclusively conservative, straight, Evangelical Christians – the supposed last bastion of comfort they could slip into without having to encounter gay people and having their extremely narrowly defined world challenged or threatened. Many of them left messages telling Hallmark that they were canceling their subscription, and that they would NEVER (their use of caps, not mine) buy anything from Hallmark, or watch their programming, EVER AGAIN.

Of course, it was mostly nonsense, since Hallmark has been selling gay-themed cards and other objects in their retail stores for years, and a number of Hallmark’s most beloved actors are actually gay. It didn’t really matter – this was just the latest Moment of Outrage in the culture wars.

One of the interesting recurring comments made in all this ran along these lines, after the obligatory rehash of all-caps shrieking and moaning about feeling betrayed by the situation: “I know that some of the Hallmark’s actors are gay, but I just don’t watch those shows – I want to have a place where I don’t have to have gay people being shoved down my throat.”

Setting aside that bizarre mental image – despite its positive aspect that having any person, gay or otherwise, actually shoved down their throat would at very least get them to shut up – their sentiment got me to thinking about their wish to live inside in that kind of “Purity Bubble.” What kind of existence would that be if they actually did avoid any exposure to or contact with gay people and their contributions to society? Imagine a remake of the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where instead of the main character wishing they’d never been born, they’d wished that gay people hadn’t. What kind of revelations would Clarence offer up to that distraught person whose Christmas wish was wanting to live life in the Purity Bubble?

clarence

Clarence: OK, your wish is granted. Gay people have never been born….

Given that this is a Christmas movie, let’s start with that. Do you love to get your Hallelujah Chorus on for the holidays? Well, think again. Its composer, George Friedrich Handel, was gay. So right off the bat, POOF! (wait, can we use that word here in the Purity Bubble?) It’s gone. Go Hallelujah yourself.

Conservative Evangelical: Well OK then, I’ll miss that, but at least the rest of Christmas is safe for us good, conservative Evangelicals. If we can’t have the Hallelujah Chorus, we can enjoy other things – like the great, traditional Nutcracker Ballet.

Clarence: Oh, no, no – The Nutcracker was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who was also gay. So no, there is no Nutcracker Ballet for Christmas here in the Purity Bubble.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Fourth of July celebrations are a lot less impressive here, too, since Tchaikovsky also composed The 1812 Overture, which so many fireworks displays are choreographed to – or at least, were choreographed to, but in the Purity Bubble, Tchaikovsky was never born.

Conservative Evangelical: OK, well, even though they wouldn’t be quite as rousing, the fireworks could set the fireworks to some nice wholesome songs by Johnny Mathis,  Barry Manilow or – oh yeah! Some good, rousing, all-American music like Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland!

Clarence: Nope, sorry – gay, gay, and gay. They never existed; their music never happened here in the Bubble. For that matter, while we’ve detoured into the Fourth of July and good, wholesome patriotic music, there’s also no Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Fannie Crosby, and no America the Beautiful (“Oh Beautiful, for spacious skies…”), written by Katherine Lee Bates – they were both lesbians.

But let’s get back to Christmas. Just think of those Christmas cards you send, featuring those beautiful, lush Renaissance paintings of Mary and Jesus, and all the famous Nativity stories. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio – none of their artistic masterpieces were ever created. Here in the Purity Bubble, the Sistine Chapel is painted Navajo White and has a lay-in ceiling. So, when you’re sending out those cards, maybe you’ll have to decorate them yourself.

CE: That’s OK, we can do that – in fact, it will be a nice wholesome, family-friendly activity that can all – hey, wait… where did the Crayons go?

C: Oh, there aren’t any Crayons here. They were owned by Hallmark, and you know, that’s what started this whole exercise. Sure, there are those other brands, but we all know they aren’t anywhere as good as Crayons.

CE: Well that sucks… I mean, stinks. Maybe I’ll just watch some traditional Christmas shows instead. I know, I’ll put on How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

C: No, you won’t. Dr. Seuss’ books are full of inclusive, pro-gay messages so his books don’t exist here, either.

CE: No they weren’t! I never saw anything in Dr. Seuss’ books about gays!

C: Well, not if you’re looking for the word gay. He was more subtle than that. Think about it: Horton Hears a Who – the community of Whos doesn’t exist until they scream out “We’re here, we’re here!” Horton Hatches an Egg – a man takes over childcare from a negligent mom and is an excellent “mother.” How the Grinch Stole Christmas – through newly-discovered love on both sides, an odd outsider is welcomed and accepted into the community. Green Eggs and Ham – pre-judging something is wrong; when you’re exposed to something unfamiliar, you may find out it’s really OK. And of course The Sneetches – people getting all worked up and superior and exclusionary because of meaningless differences. Oh, yes, the messages were there for everyone to see. In fact, the government of China saw, and banned all of his books as teaching dangerous, decadent messages. And at leas one California school district banned his books because they saw his subtext and didn’t want to include books that advanced “the homosexual agenda.”

CE: But wait! Dr. Seuss wasn’t actually gay himself, so the Grinch should still be OK!

C: Well, people presume he was straight. But that doesn’t matter; what’s important to you Purity Bubblers is not supporting the “gay agenda” at all. Remember, this whole shitstorm started when you all complained that Hallmark was summoning in the end of civilization as we know it just for broadcasting a commercial including a same-sex kiss. So no, there is no Grinch here in the Bubble.

… what’s that? Oh – sorry, Joseph, I forgot myself.  Make that “crapstorm.”

CE: OK, from now on, no more Dr. Seuss. I can still read other great books to the kids.

C: Well, I don’t know, an awful lot of them don’t exist here in the gay-free zone, since many of the world’s most cherished classic children’s books were written by LGBTQ+ people. Don’t bother looking for any of the Frog and Toad books – the author, Arnold Lobel, who died from AIDS in 1987, was gay. Neither is Strega Nona, or anything else by Tomie diPaola, who is gay. I’m not sure Where the Wild Things Are, but they aren’t here in the Purity Bubble, since author Maurice Sendak was gay – here, the wild rumpus will never start. And your littlest ones have no Runaway Bunny, or even Goodnight Moon to have read to them, because their author, Margaret Wise Brown, was bisexual.

CE: All right. But still, we can have a nice, wholesome, non-gay influenced Christmas.

C: Maybe, but it will be a lot quieter one. Handel and Tchaikovsky were far from the only LGBTQ+ people who helped to shape our Christmas. There are Christmas classic songs by Johnny Mathis, David Bowie, Wham! – I mean really, the list goes on and on and on. Let’s just say it’s going to be a far less wonderful time of the year, since you didn’t want all these gays shoved down your throat.

And it doesn’t really end there. Those memories you have – well, you think you have – about your life? So many of them never happened. A number of your favorite childhood teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends, family members – they simply never existed here, because they were LGBTQ+.  In fact, several of your straight friends and family members never existed here in the bubble either – you see, Alan Turing, a gay man, was the inventor of the modern computer, which was developed in order to break German codes during World War 2. His invention allowed the Allies to know where German ships and submarines were, and to keep them from attacking Allied ships. But without Alan Turing, the computer was never invented, the Allied ships were sunk, and a number of your family and friends never existed. The Allies lost the war because there was no Alan Turing. Of course, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – there are no computers here in the Purity Bubble.

And it gets worse. There are so many people who aren’t here, because there were never any gay doctors, nurses, firefighters, EMTs, police officers, soldiers. They weren’t around to give birth to them, provide health care for them, save them in times of emergency or war. You, and the rest of the people who want to live in the Purity Bubble, have said that being gay isn’t natural, because gays can’t create life. The truth is, there are so many people alive in this world specifically because of gay people – and isn’t that just as life-giving?

CE: I know I’m supposed to be happy here in my “safe space” – but Clarence, I’m starting to really not like this.

C: You may not have realized it, but the LGBTQ+ people that you wanted to get away from, and who you wanted to discriminate against, have really been all around you, all the time, contributing to the world, and your experience of it, in so many positive ways. They’ve been people who have made the world a better place. They’ve been your friends, neighbors, relatives. We’ve just barely scratched the surface here, but the truth is that if you removed everything in your life that had something to do with LGBTQ+ people, it would be a terrible existence. So much of what has made the world good, and enjoyable, and safe, and beautiful, and yes, “family friendly,” were the result of LGBTQ+ people.  You see, friend, you really had a wonderful life when gay people were a part of it. You spent so much of your time threatening gay people that they were going to go to hell – but look around you. With this Purity Bubble that you wanted to live in – didn’t you end up creating a real hell for yourself?

jimmy stewart on bridge

CE: Clarence, I don’t want to live in this Purity Bubble any more! This is terrible – I want to go back! I want to live with gay people again! I want to live with gay people again!

Johnny Mathis: “…. For, we, need a little Christmas, right this very minute, …

CE: Yes! Yes! Merry Christmas, Johnny Mathis! Merry Christmas everybody!

bell ringing