In light of the horrific events last Saturday and the absolutely appalling response from 45, I had to write this week’s blog on this important topic. Don’t let Heather’s death fall into the annals of historical obscurity. I’ve said this before and I will say it again, what we permit, we promote. Staying quiet and hoping things will get better is really not an option.
I am going to admit something that I’m not proud of, but I believe is illustrative of what is possible. In my youth, as I was trying to come to terms with my sexuality, I attended a lecture that the Gay Alliance (that’s what it was called way back then) sponsored. I attended the lecture to get credit for a class, and I suspect because I was curious. Although I wouldn’t ever have admitted that at the time. Instead, I fell into the trap of self-loathing and spouted along with my friends a bunch of truly hateful slurs. I was only eighteen, but I should have known better. My parents did not teach me that hatred. Unbelievably, I think I may have vaguely alluded to carrying some type of defensive weapon, you know just in case one of those evil lesbians tried to convert me to win that toaster oven. I will tie this in later, I promise.
I remember when my sister said to me that she’d rather I die than hurt my mother and my mother saying, she’d rather I be a whore on the streets than gay. I didn’t say a word.
When I attended my grandmother’s funeral, all of my aunts, uncles and cousins were talking about the disgusting way that Ellen Degenerous was parading her sexuality in front of everyone. I kept quiet.
When my father who was the ultimate liberal in our family expressed his opinion that the military should keep gays out because it was a distraction, I finally found my voice. This was at a time when both parents had, I thought, come to accept me and my partner at the time. I was flabbergasted by his statement. I was equally flummoxed that both my parents believed in “civil unions” but not same sex marriages. I found my voice again.
A few years before I married my wife, I was at lunch with my sister and she kindly informed me that, she wasn’t judging me because everyone sins. Homosexuality is a sin in her eyes, but she loves me anyway. That was the bone she tossed out. I found my voice again and told her that I would never consider loving another a sin and any higher power that espouses that dribble is not worthy of anyone’s devotion.
Recently when I lost my job and was in another debate with my sister over 45, I broke my silence again. Normally, I would refuse to debate with my younger sister over politics because it always gets out of hand. Initially she thought it was against the law to discriminate on sexual orientation. After I provided some much needed education, she texted, I was great at what I do and it was the company’s loss for not hiring me. At that point I lost it, my voice was loud.
My sister cannot truly understand homophobia and I cannot truly understand racism, but that does not mean I should remain quietly on the sidelines when I know in my heart the moral integrity of the nation is at stake. I listened to a former neo-nazi talk about his transformation and it gave me hope.
I provide all the above examples because in each circumstance, something has made a difference to those antiquated views. Let me provide the updates:
- I no longer hate myself for being a lesbian. I embrace it.
- My younger sister not only came to my wedding, but supports same sex marriage and was a huge help when I married my wife. I don’t know if she still considers my love for my wife a sin or not. I haven’t asked.
- Before my mother passed she had made a complete turnaround on her views and understood that my happiness would only ever be with a woman and not a man.
- When my cousins and uncle came to Florida to honor my mother’s passing, they embraced my wife and did not blink an eye at my choice for a life partner.
- My father changed his views on gays in the military and on same sex marriage.
We must persist and continue the fight to hold our ground and move forward because changing views are possible, but it won’t happen in a vacuum of silence. Let our peaceful voices of love and moral right be heard above the din of hatred. Don’t let 45 take us down that horrid path to any kind of hatred, including self hatred.
What we permit, we promote. Please don’t stand idly by and promote hatred, racism, sexism or homophobia. Authors, use your pens. It can be a very influential way to educate when done with love and compassion. I believe it is possible to change, there is proof of that all around us. The neo-nazi who no longer has those hateful views is a beacon of hope. I will continue to use my pen in the hopes that something will shake loose for a person on the edge of enlightenment
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