Friday, August 3, 2012

Okay, I'm not done after all....

So yesterday when I posted the link to this wonderfully written blog I said it was the last I was going to talk about CFA. My son told me, "No it's not." He knows me very well. But I feel like I need to clarify something. I'm not going to talk specifically to the CFA brouhaha anymore. I've said my piece on that and the blog I linked to earlier put it even better than I could, but that doesn't mean I will stop writing and speaking my mind about equal rights. The issue right now is that the CFA discussions are still going strong and so sometimes something I've read or heard or been asked about that subject is going to spark another round of my ranting. This is one of those times...

So as the whole CFA thing is still simmering and people are still talking about it I had someone I know ask me what my nephew thinks of the whole thing. I told them I had no idea as we hadn't talked about it. They couldn't believe it. They were shocked. And then asked me how I could be so offended by the whole issue when he might not even care. My only answer for them was that I honestly don't care what he thinks about this issue. Okay, well that's untrue. I would love to know what he thinks only because I love him and I love talking to him and if he wanted to share with me what he thought about this whole deal I would listen and be thrilled for the conversation. But what I mean is what he thinks about it has absolutely no bearing on what I think about it.

See here's the thing, the last time I checked Brian wasn't the card carrying spokesman for the entire homosexual population. People do this thing where they think they have the pulse of a group because they asked their, "gay friend" or "black friend" or "female friend" or "republican friend" about it and so they obviously know what every one in that group thinks. Why do they do this? Why do people assume that every group with one thing in common has everything in common?

During my sister Susan's first marriage her husband regularly hit her. So when Rihanna had the shit knocked out of her by Chris Brown I guess I should have first called my sister to see what she thought about it all before I formed my opinion? Is that the way this logic works? Or is it that when you see something that is wrong, you know it's wrong. And even if other people aren't bothered by it (my sister stayed with her husband for a very long time, Rihanna reconciled with Brown) it still doesn't make it okay. Even if they have something in common with the person that the injustice happened to.

I know how my niece feels about it, since she posted about it. I know how my sister Ann feels about it since she posted. But I don't know how my nephew feels about it. I know how some of my gay friends feel about it. I know how some of my straight friends feel about it. I know how some of my religious friends feel about it. I know how some of my non-religious friends feel about it. Everyone who has weighed in and posted about the issue I know how they feel. And even the ones with one thing in common don't all feel the same way on this issue. And none of these opinions change what I feel about it.

I've had an opinion on this issue and issues relating to other gay rights and equality for all for a very long time. Before Brian ever came out. Before he ever knew what being gay was. My position has evolved and changed over the years but from the time I was 16 and the realization that what my church had taught me about homosexuality was just wrong (religion blog way back here) I have known that the way our society has treated gay people in the name of religious freedom is wrong. Since I've felt this way for as long as I have I have a lot of arguments and counter arguments to make. I can keep my calm for the most part and I can stand my ground. Part of that is because the people I have fought the hardest over issues like these have been family members. And when you are arguing with family members over dinner you have to learn how to make better points than, "you are an idiot" and you have to make them calmly enough that nobody gets disowned by dessert.

I want to share with you all the story of my nephew coming out to me because there is a lesson in there for all of you who talk about your "gay friend feels this way so it must be true."

Like I said in the blog I linked up there about religion I knew from the time Brian was 4 that when he reached the age where he was starting to think about dating it was going to be boys, not girls he was interested in. Sometimes there are stereotypes for a reason and my nephew has been stereo-typically gay since he was too little to know what gay was. Now this actually worried me quite a bit. I know what it's like to hold a different opinion about religion than your family. I know what it's like to completely disagree with them. I know what it's like to have your mother tell you that she is praying for you so you don't go to hell. Because I chose to leave the church because I didn't believe a lot of the teachings anymore. But what worried me is that Brian was going to be raised in the same church. And it wasn't going to be him realizing that he disagreed with the teachings they had about other people, it was going to be him listening to teachings about how who he was was wrong.

Long before the "It Gets Better" movement, long before the media coverage of gay teen suicides there were gay teen suicides. Growing up gay in a conservative Christian family is difficult at best and heartbreaking at worst. And all I knew about it was from the outside looking in. I knew how hard it was for me to leave and to be honest about leaving the church. But it was my choice. Brian was who he was by birth. There is no choice there. And he was going to have to deal with it all. So I did my years of telling him that he was great no matter what. That who he was was perfect. That he didn't need to change for anyone. But I did all of that never mentioning the word gay. The church and family he was being raised in said being gay was a sin so I wasn't going to force him to come out to me until he was ready. But I was definitely going to try my hardest to let him know that he was great, just the way he was, and hope he got my not so subtle code.

So fast forward to him turning 18. We were emailing each other and I was telling him about my 18th birthday. I spent part of it with a friend of mine who I share the birthday with and who happens to be gay. I told Brian he was gay because it's part of the very funny story about the birthday, a cake, a case of mistaken sexual identity and being friends with a couple who share the same first name. So anyway, after I tell him the story he emails me back and tells me that he is proud of me for having gay friends. I had a choice to make right then on how to handle that statement and I went with what I would have said to any other member of my family or my friend circle who said it. I emailed him back and told him that unless he was proud of me for having straight friends or any friends at all that he shouldn't be proud of me for having gay friends. That friends are friends and sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.

He then emailed me back and let me know that I was right, and that he was glad to hear me say that and he let me know that he was in fact a gay man. I emailed him back that I was thrilled he finally felt like he could tell me but that I had known since he was 4. And then we talked about why I felt like I knew that, we talked about how he had actually been the final piece of the puzzle for me to see that people are born the way they are born. That there is no choice that is made in which sex you are attracted to, that it's part of you from birth. I think we were both very relieved. Me for finally not having to bite my tongue and him for having a family member not only be fine with the fact that he is gay, but not be shocked or even phased at all by it. His coming out to everyone else didn't go as smoothly and we talked about that as well. Now that people have had quite a few years to get used to the idea they are starting to come around.

But even though he is gay, though I knew that he was gay, I couldn't sit back and say, "Yes, good for me for having gay friends!" Because that's just silly. I have friends. Some of them are gay. Some of them aren't. It doesn't matter to me. And it doesn't mean that I need to consult with them on issues about the gay or straight community before I form my opinions on them. So when you tell me that you talked to your gay friend and they are fine with CFA or you talked to your black friend and they are super cool with getting rid of the NAACP or you talked to your female friend and she thinks Planned Parenthood is a scam please know that the first thing I am going to think of is your posing like Stephen Colbert with your said friends and the second thing I am going to think is I wonder if I am your liberal friend? Or am I your ridiculously good looking friend? Or your OMG she's totally a genius friend? Hmmmm....probably your snarky friend....

And yes, C won. I'm not done. Not even by a long shot. Sadly. Because I'll only be done when people are given the same rights no matter who they are attracted to. Even Rihanna....

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