This morning, I was sitting down to enjoy a cup of hot chamomile tea with lemon and honey at the Starbucks on the corner of 66th and Lexington when I overheard a man talking to a woman seated at a table against the wall a little behind me. The table was littered with the pages of one of the tabloid newspapers, and he was talking about one of the things he had read.
I don’t exactly recall how his rant started, because I was trying very hard not to overhear, especially when he started talking about how New York Governor David Patterson has been trying to introduce a same-sex marriage bill into the state constitution. What followed was the usual rhetoric I hear from homophobic people who call themselves Christians, sprinkled with some truly bizarre comments on how President Obama might be gay, something about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and fellatio…
Really, it was all a blur because inside my head and out loud on Twitter I was trying to decide if I should say something to him.
In the interest of full disclosure, on the Kinsey scale, I come out as mostly heterosexual; however, I’m not going to rule out the possibility that my soulmate could be a woman and I’m not going to deny that I am attracted to certain women. I also have several GLBTQ friends whom I adore and think are some of the most awesome people in the entire world. I urged my family members who are still living in California to vote against Proposition 8 and when I start up the Kielle Foundation, one of the causes it would support would be championing gay rights or helping protect those who are harmed by gay-bashing.
One of the things I have always admired about some of my friends is that they not only talk about the causes they support, they actually go out and do them. I’m thinking most specifically about a friend of mine who is a child protection social worker in Maryland, who wrote this while on a vacation in Toronto with the rest of the other friends I’d met around the time I first met Kelly:
The people around me right now are drinking Moosehead and sangria, listening to music and laughing–laughing so very much. They lean into each other, hugging and touching affectionately. They are, at least for the moment, confident and secure in themselves.
This is a world my children have never experienced. They are just beginning to learn security, safety, stability, the feeling that the person next to you will not harm you.
This is what I want them to have. I want them to grow up into friendship and security, fondness and stability, affection and safety. So when I look around this room, I see what I am fighting for.
I do not fight to solely to minimize damage. I do not fight simply for the cessation of trauma, I fight for the beginning of living. I do not fight simply to stop crying, I fight for laughter to start.
This is real. This is living and laughter and a reason to keep going. This is what makes me go back to my job every day and look my children in the eye and tell them honestly: “It gets better.”
And then I keep fighting to make that true.
People like my friend and like Kelly are some of the reason why I haven’t lost faith in humanity because they live their lives with conviction and truth; to sit in the coffee shop and listen to this man spew his hatred, bigotry, and misinterpretation of what he thinks God thinks and believes and not do anything about it to me was wrong.
So when he was prattling on about how sinful New York City is and how everything is much better in the Midwest where values are clean and wholesome, I turned slightly in my chair to face him and said, “Except for Iowa.”
He started to bluster and without getting out of my chair, I faced him and told him that though yes, this is a free country and he has the right to say what he wants to say, I also had the right to say, “I vehemently disagree with you.”
The funniest part of the whole encounter was the part where he started saying that what I was doing was sinful, as if he assumed that because I don’t think gay people are living sinful lives I must be gay. At that brief moment, I almost wished that I was gay, just so I could deserve that kind of “stinging” rebuke.
After winding down to a close and without any further debate from me, he gathered up his things and flounced out of the store through the back entrance; I picked up my now lukewarm tea to have a sip. After he left, two women who had been sitting at the table on the other side of his commented on how nutty he was, and the woman to whom he’d been ranting was very quick to tell me that she only knew him as a “coffee shop friend” and that he’s a little crazy. As if I couldn’t tell that myself, but it was very nice of her to let me know in her own way that she didn’t agree with him either.
However, the whole encounter has left me with a distaste in my mouth for the kinds of Christians who take the whole Bible as nothing but the complete and utter truth, who cite Scripture and verse when condemning homosexuality without taking the entirety of the Bible into the context of the age in which it was written.
Because if there’s anything that I still cling to when it comes to my former Christianity, it is the notion that “God is love” and that any expression of that love can’t be completely wrong.