At lunch the other day, I was asked if I was going to play bridge today. I’m not sure what it says about me, that I said “I have a meeting.” It was only after he said it must be a horrible meeting to have it held at lunch time, when I said it was with GLOBE – Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allied Employees. Why should I have felt uneasy saying it? I consider myself fairly liberal and never shied away when others thought I was gay. Heck, I can only imagine how nervous I would have been if I had been coming out to him. Still, if I had a momentary pause, I worry more for the November vote in MD when people will vote their biases in privacy.
I was thinking about this as I was going into the meeting, and they were making plans for National “Coming out Day,” October 11th. I asked whether their reality lived up or down to their fears when they came out. I can only imagine hiding the real person inside while trying to live a lie. My suggestion was to have a web page where there was a story a day for the 10 days leading up to the 11th. Then allow for anyone to post their stories on the 11th. I suggested putting it up in a public place so that people walking by can post their thoughts and responses. Even the negative will empower because I think there will be enough positive and enough backlash against the negative to create a more positive peer pressure.
I was curious. So I asked what they thought the origin of the negative reactions is because as an outsider I see two. First there is the religious outcry, and second there is the unfamiliarity.
As to the first, I suggested they arrange to bring in some members of the cloth who are more sympathetic to gay marriage if only to show there is a lack of uniformity in the religious condemnation. Show it is not just heathens like me, somebody married by my sister-in-law who became a minister of the Church of Universal Life over the internet just for our wedding. Make a point of who performs the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church (the husband and wife with the priest as a witness). Ask what makes a marriage and why get married and is society better or worse off for more people in stable long term relationships and…? People get hung up in the words and forget the meanings and purposes of our relationships. Focus the attention on the substance instead of the propaganda.
As to the second part on familiarity, I said that part is on them…but not just them. At some point we all have to stand up for a minority, to make it clear the effort to deny is not popular. Is it enough to be silent and say, “Well, I never took part in it?” No, and often silence is construed consent. Then consent, even when silent, is often assumed by the impressionable to be the normal reaction. Everybody wants to be “normal,” as if such a state of being exists.
As we all have different finger prints, we all live different lives and have different opinions and biases resulting in large part from our differences. It’s only when we take the time to move past that which makes us “normal” that we can begin to see and accept our common humanity. The normal, common element in our humanity is our deviance from the norm, and it should be celebrated.
For any with a happy long term marriage, it should come as no surprise that we celebrate that which sets our relationship as different from any other we have had or will have in the future. Why should gay couples be banned from celebrating with ties that bind their differences as my wife and I have celebrated ours. Let their marriages be a boon for us all.
By the end of the meeting I felt very different from when I entered. I was a little embarrassed coming into the meeting, and I certainly never expected to talk much if at all. It turned out I was one of two straight people there, and the other was a mother of another person there. Thankfully, my thoughts were welcomed, and I have been invited back.
I feel for them. They are the side of our culture whom almost half of our population wishes would just disappear. That side is also very vocal about their wishes as if homosexuality is the cause of the 50% divorce rate in our country. It’s easier to blame homosexuality than to blame the cheating and general culture of disdaining long term commitments of any sort so we can pursue what is “best” for each of us.
I hope if my children read this as teenagers or adults they look back and say, “Daddy you guys were crazy. Why would you feel nervous going to that meeting? Doesn’t everyone feel they should have equality in our legal system?” That’s how I felt when I first heard about my grandma being a part of the first inter-racial multi-denominational meeting of church youth of her state (Georgia) in the 1920’s. What’s crazy about talking between people of different races and faiths? Now it seems so common.
Let there be change. Let there be deviance. Celebrate what is.