Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hateful Ch(r)i(stia)cke(n)s


Something is stirring, shifting ground...it’s just begun. Edges are blurring all around, and yesterday is done. Feel the flow, hear what’s happening: we’re what’s happening. Don’t you know? It’s our time, breathe it in: worlds to change and worlds to win. Our turn coming through, me and you, man, me and you! [1]

I have so far staid my opinion from social media on this subject, choosing instead to ask questions and express thoughts in dialogue with friends and coworkers, but when my (relation removed upon request) “liked” the I Support Chick-fil-A page on Facebook last week, my heart fell. It felt like a slap in my face; a blatant disregard for me as a person. He knows I’m gay and he doesn’t approve. I don’t deny him his feelings, they’re his feelings. It doesn’t make it hurt any less.

I’ve known about Chick-fil-A’s anti gayness for years. I express my distaste at their practices by choosing to exercise my freedom of choice and not eat there. I haven’t patronized a Chick-fil-A in so long I can’t remember the last time I tasted one of their waffles fries. 

Here’s what I don’t understand: would we (the gay community) be completely disgusted if Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, suggested that Boston wasn’t necessarily the right place for a gay owned restaurant? By saying in a letter to Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, “I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston” and “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it,” he sounds as if he’s discriminating. Isn’t it discrimination? Shouldn’t the owner be able to believe what he chooses whether we agree or not? I’m honestly asking. What happened to “Judge not lest ye be judged?” What happened to “Live and let live?” What happened to “Live together, Die alone?” Discrimination is discrimination, right? 

We will not all agree...ever!

JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED

My parents do not believe in gay marriage. Does that mean, should I ever meet a man and fall in love with him and choose to commit my life to him, with the exchange of rings and vows, they wouldn’t be there? I don’t know. Maybe if that ever happens they will have a softening of the heart and show up anyway. Maybe they will change their minds and just be happy for me. I can’t worry about that (even though you know I do). It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that they love me as a person, but disapprove of my life. I can admit that. But the person I am and the life I live are connected. I know they love me, but knowing they disapprove gnaws at the back of my head more than I wish.

It doesn’t change my longing for them to choose me, their gay son and his feelings, over dining at a restaurant whose owner views me as less than the person he is. 

I often question how my (relations removed upon request) will feel when they finally learn the truth about me. Will the guidance of Christian parents who disapprove overpower their willingness to accept and love me for who I am? Because they are so young and I’ve always been in their lives, will I be the difference, the example, to them that I never had growing up?

Should I shun all the friends I have who don’t agree with equality as it translates to basic rights or marriage? Should I cut them out of my life? No!! What I’m prone to do is cut them from my Facebook news feed. We don’t have to agree on politics or religious views. That’s my freedom of choice. 

I saw these words in my news feed on Facebook recently, “...Family values is not hate speech.” Every person in the world is allowed their own belief in what constitutes family values. To some it may be a married man and woman having children and going to church three times a week. To others it may be an unmarried couple buying a home and sharing a life together. And yet others may see their homeownership and parentage of a child with a same sex partner, married or not, as the most joyous of family values. What constitutes a family is a gray area. It's not always black and white. I understand the gray area is difficult, believe me, but there isn't always a set rule.

“I wish we could all get along like we did in middle school...” Remember that line from Mean Girls? Okay, maybe we didn’t all get along in middle school, but jeez this constant bickering between the pro gays and the anti gays is exhausting. Pretty soon we’ll all just have to cook at home because the anti’s will boycott anything that supports gay people and the pro’s will boycott anything that doesn’t. It’ll be segregation all over. We’ll be planting gardens (good for the environment) and raising chickens (bad for the chickens) and making our own clothes (bad for everyone).

What if Verizon started supporting hate groups, but Sprint didn’t? Would I have to switch to Sprint? Would I be expected to cancel both of my American Express cards if I suddenly found out they were anti gay? How can I find out to whom the farm that grows my organic blueberries donates their money? What about Johnson & Johnson and their slogan, "A Family Company?" What if I'm not part of their "family" idea. Would "No more tears" be nothing more than a Donna Summer/Barbra Streisand duet? When does it stop? The point is, there’s probably something within each business that each of us can find to disagree with.

LIVE AND LET LIVE

Someone is on your side, someone else is not. While we're seeing our side, maybe we forgot. They are not alone. No one is alone. Hard to see the light now, just don't let it go. Things will come out right, now. We can make it so. Someone is on your side. No one is alone. [2]

All we truly want is to be treated as people. Human beings. Everyone equal. Everyone with the same rights as the next person. How is anyone affected by the union of two people? I don’t understand that. It seems so simple to me. If two people want to get married what does it matter? When my sister got married I didn’t lose her. I gained a brother-in-law. When my cousin Leah got married I gained a cousin-in-law. When my cousin Casey gets married, I’m gaining another cousin-in-law. Their lives are their lives. Deciding to join their life with another person should do nothing more than bring me joy. 

Why does it have to be so difficult? Why are we fighting so hard to get our way? Both sides are doing this. Butting heads and hating. Everything is out of the closet. The haters stand on the corner with their nasty signs spitting their hate speech and the ones fighting for nothing more than equality in humanity are spitting back. We’re all covered in spit and we need to take a shower. We need to get back to remembering that this country was created by people who wanted freedom. This country was founded with the desire that all men be equal. ALL! That is all of us. No one can speak for how our founding fathers would react to our nation today. They’re all dead.

The Bible cannot be used to decide policy in America. It just can’t. Believe the Bible or don’t, but it can’t be used to determine my rights or your rights. I can’t be governed by the Bible. The Bible tells me I’m going to Hell. I can’t believe that. I made no choice to be gay. I made a choice to believe in God and Jesus and live the best life I can live. I made a choice to try every day to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I don’t always succeed. But I have goals. Tomorrow I try again. What makes my life worth living if I am to believe Hell is the only thing that awaits me?

LIVE TOGETHER, DIE ALONE

No more giants waging war! Can't we just pursue our lives, with our children and our wives {or husbands}. 'Til that happy day arrives, how do you ignore...all the witches, all the curses, all the wolves, all the lies, the false hopes, the good-bye's, the reverses? All the wondering what even worse is still in store? All the children? All the giants? No more. [3]

We’re fighting with each other except this time instead of Yankees and Confederates we’re Pro-Equality and Family Values. It’s a Civil War fought with words and picket signs and images. Christians are not superior. Heterosexuals are not superior. Homosexuals are not superior.  

I am frustrated that with all that goes on in our world on a daily basis we’re provoking each other over a restaurant that serves chicken and waffle fries and is closed on Sunday. Of course, this is not about chicken. It’s about where the money goes and the hate it is used to fund. I don’t have time to worry about this restaurant or its founder. I just don’t eat there. My money is not spent there, but I can put my money toward anything promoting equality. That’s my choice. So he gives his money to hate groups. Let’s give ours to love groups. 

Should the gay rights activists stoop to the level of the haters? No! It’s my opinion that we are a kinder, more loving population, striving to push this country forward. Yes, we have to push back against them. We can’t be wall flowers bullied by the majority, but we don’t have to instigate the argument. We don’t have to provoke the Palin’s and Bachmann’s of the world back into the spotlight. 

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Words by Maya Angelou. She’s right. There’s a lot a hate going on right now. I think fear causes most of it. Being uneducated about people of different creeds, races, religious beliefs and sexual orientations freaks people out. Those who choose to stay uneducated let that fear, that creeps in from lack of knowledge, boil until they seethe with hate. Take a second. Learn something. Try to understand someone else. Knowledge truly is power.

So, Mr. Cathy is a family values-oriented Christian man. That’s great. Good for him. I will not patronize his restaurant. Not because he’s a Christian, but because he thinks I’m not. What I can do is patronize his competitor. What I can do is give money to organizations that I believe in, organizations that believe in me, organizations that support equal rights for all.

Through every generation there has been disappointment and progress. Hate groups are a disappointment. The right to marry the man I love in New York City is progress. For all the progress Pro-equality is making the Family Values team is fighting back. What would happen is this country if we didn’t fear each other? Didn’t worry about the bedroom antics of each other? What if we didn’t judge? What if we lived and let live? What if the Bible was treated as a guideline instead of the rule book? What if everyone believed there was a higher power who loved each of us for who we are and wasn’t sitting on a throne way up in the sky hidden behind the clouds shaking his head, waiting for the moment he could take revenge? What if love one another meant love one another not just the ones you deem worthy? 

I’m worthy. I’m trying to live the best life I can live on a daily basis. I’m trying to show anyone who will see me, read my words, or listen to me that I’m just a normal man, who laughs and cries, walking through this life like everyone else. So what if I’m gay? Being born white, being born black, being born gay, being born straight, being born female, being born male, being born with blue eyes, being born with crossed eyes, being born with brown or blond hair was not in my control. I was born at 12:28pm on June 8, 1971, a gay, white baby with blue eyes (the left one crossed). My hair was blond initially and by about 3 years old it was well on its way to brunette. I had no control over any of it. I’m worthy. I’m striving to love myself and be proud of myself every day. The vile haters in the world do not make it easy, but with time comes strength and with strength comes courage. 

I have the strength and courage to say that Chick-fil-A will not receive my money. I will not protest with a gay kiss-in in front of one of their locations. I will love who I love and say that I do. I will not be ashamed of the way God made me. I will continue to believe there is a higher power that supports me. I will believe that my beautiful (relations removed upon request) will have a better understanding of me and that I’m not a threat to them or anyone else just because we’re different. I have to believe that as slow as it’s coming, change is afoot in our country and in this world. Change for the better.  

People make mistakes. Hate is a mistake born out of ignorance. Hate is learned. My hope is that one day those who learn tolerance and those who learn to accept other people's differences overtake those who learn to hate on the bar graph of life.


[1] lyrics from “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim
[2] lyrics from “No One Is Alone” from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim 
[3] lyrics from “No More” from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim