Roger was such a great guy, one of my best friends. Unfailingly upbeat, jolly, energetic and caring. He’d go out of his way to help anybody, anytime. He lived for music, and he and I wrote and recorded songs together. He was gifted.
For several years he ran a recording studio I co-owned with my manager, and with my knowledge and permission, he often let aspiring musicians use our studio to record demos of their songs – for free. And he’d stay, engineer and clean up afterwards in the wee small hours.
I loved the guy, and he loved me and my family. I’ll always treasure a Christmas gift from Roger, a beautiful sculpture of a baby sitting up, legs crossed, looking pensively at the floor as if lost in baby thoughts. To me, that little baby will always be Roger.
I was with Roger in the VA hospital as he was dying of AIDS. A lot of his thick lustrous hair was gone, as were most of his teeth. He was very thin and weak, but we managed to laugh softly at wry jokes, and his indomitable spirit was still there, carrying him to the moment of his departure. I loved him then more than ever. And he knew.
We didn’t talk much about his homosexuality, because even though he knew I was concerned about it, concerned for him, it didn’t affect our relationship at all. He was my friend Roger, and I was his friend Pat.
I had another friend, Roy. That was his real name, though the world knew him as Rock. A major, iconic movie star, he too was homosexual. But the world didn’t know that, until he was famously revealed to be dying of HIV/AIDS. He, and those close to him, knew well that if his sexual proclivities were known, he could never have been the superstar ladies’ man, the poster boy for handsome Hunkdom. So he and those who profited from his stardom kept it quiet until almost the end.
My wife, three friends and I were with him the night before he died. In his lovely, quiet Beverly Hills home, he too was terribly ravaged by the disease. He couldn’t speak, and his emaciated body bore no resemblance to the one millions of women had dreamed of. But his eyes shone as our little group gathered by his bed to pray with, and for him. Obeying the admonition in James 5 in the New Testament, I poured a little oil on his bare chest and rubbed it in with my hand, praying for him to be healed and restored. He smiled gratefully at all of us.
His countenance had brightened, and his friend/caregiver Tom exclaimed, “Roy, tomorrow is going to be a better day! I’ll lay out your ‘happy clothes,’ and maybe you’ll feel good enough to get up.”
But early the next morning, as Tom opened the shutters to admit the first rays of the sun, Roy, in his “happy clothes,” slipped away to join my friend Roger, and our friend Jesus. I believe, since they both gave their last days to their Lord, we’ll be together again … and I so look forward to that.
This brings me to my point. I relate the above to make it extremely clear I’m no homophobe. Far from it; I’ve flourished in the entertainment business for over 50 years now, and I’ve always had good friends who were, and are, homosexual. I’ve never felt that their sexual practices defined them. They are each distinct, unique human beings, with all the same basic qualities and aspirations and emotions as I, and we all, have.
Think about this carefully. Homosexual activists insist that they are no different than the rest of us, and therefore are entitled to all the same privileges, respect and status. And I agree. As I’ve written in this space before, two men who are just good friends can choose to live together, share incomes, come and go as they separately please, and receive all the entitlements provided by government to two single men. Same for women.
But for some of these activists today, this isn’t enough. Based solely on what they do to please each other sexually, they demand special rights, privileges and entitlements. By their own pronouncements, they are no different in any other way from other Americans – the only things that set them apart from the other two men I describe are the things that satisfy them sexually.
Is this a valid basis for them to be treated as if they were a special species of humanity? When it comes to the military, and the long-established “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Adm. Michael Mullen (unlike most of his fellow commanders) says he thinks the law should be changed “because it forces gay troops to compromise their integrity by lying.”
What? Who asked anybody to lie? The obvious, expressed purpose of the policy is that the subject never come up or be discussed. Sexual proclivity, if not violent or a menace to someone else, should be a private matter. If a soldier has a “foot fetish,” is attracted to young boys or feels compelled to masturbate frequently, should he volunteer – or be required – to confess those urges, for “integrity’s” sake?
Is his sexual appetite, and how he satisfies it, his identity? Or should he (or she) not be judged solely on performance, skill, responsibility and intelligence? In short, judged not on what he or she does to satisfy sexual urges, but on who he or she is.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and a host of decorated career military leaders are expressing “serious concerns” about repealing the current policy. They have good reasons, including morale, the reputation and image of our fighting forces and influences on voluntary recruitment.
There are numerous examples of heroic behavior and exemplary service, including rising to very high positions in the military, by soldiers who later were revealed to be homosexuals. They didn’t accomplish all these great things by proudly claiming their sexual proclivity; they made sure that aspect of their individual makeup made no difference in their performance or standing. That wasn’t who they were; it was something else they experienced – in private … another reason for Americans to respect them.
As I do Roger … and Rock.