The language of love, as the old Goucher euphemism goes, “transcends boundaries.” Love is human, humanizing. It leads us to care for others, to accept them into ourown homes, to love without restraint, to understand and to acknowledge the differences that exist between ourselves and our neighbors. And for Frank Bruni, the New York Times Opinion columnist who spoke at Goucher’s Hyman Forum on September 30, this love has gradually become accepted in American culture as a universal sentiment, a love that all should share, regardless of sexual identity or status.
Bruni detailed the increasing acceptance of LGBTQ marriages in each consecutive generation of Americans. He noted that gay marriage has become widely accepted by the 20-somethings who have grown up with “Will and Grace,” Neil Patrick Harris, and who have friends and loved ones who identify as “gay.” He cited a Gallup poll finding that 74 percent of respondents ages 18 to 29 who stated that they support gay marriage, compared to the 63 percent of supporting respondents in their 30’s and 40’s and 50 percent of supporters over the age of 50. This evolution of acceptance, according to Bruni, is a clear and indisputable indicator that in five to ten years, gay marriage will be almost universally accepted.
“This issue will increasingly transcend partisan politics and hinge less on party affiliation or archaic religious doctrine than on the intimate, everyday dynamics of family and friendship,” Bruni wrote in a Times article published in 2011.
At the time of publication, gay marriage was already legal in many countries, states, and principalities throughout Africa, Western Europe, and North and South America. Bruni noted that even Portugal, where 85 percent of the population define their faith as “Catholic,” has legalized gay marriage, thus debunking the idea that traditionally conservative religious groups are ‘staunchly’ against gay marriage.
To further support his theory of the evolution towards acceptance, Bruni brought his own story of acceptance to the forefront, noting how his relationship with his 76 year-old Republican father has evolved over the years. Bruni described how, after he came out to his mother, she told him not to tell his family.
Despite the fact that she then came out to the family for him, he never discussed his homosexuality with his father. However, recently his father has come to accept him.“[A few years ago, hosting a party] he insisted I bring Tom [Bruni’s then partner], whom he has come to know well over the two and a half years we’ve been together. And as he introduced us to his golf partners from the country club, he said, ‘This is my son, Frank. And this is my other son, Tom. Or at least I think of him that way.’”
Throughout his career as a “journeying journalist”, Bruni covered the Gulf War, shadowed George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign, reported as the New York Times’ correspondent to the Vatican, acted as the Times’ restaurant critic, and most recently, contributes to the Tuesday and Sunday Opinion sections of the Times. Through all of these experiences, he attempted to analyze and to understand various opinions to understand the ‘whole story,’ not just a singular perspective.
By revealing this language of love and by showing how we can grow to understand all people from all walks of life through relationships and meetings, Bruni pointed out that we can create a culture of understanding and respect if we attempt to understand those around us, to understand opinions that conflict with our own.
To round out the dialogue, a student asked Bruni how he would rate the pre-event dinner at the president’s house. He paused before diplomatically answering:
“It is the policy of the Times to visit at least three times, and a salad and some fish is not enough to render judgement at this time.”