This is an archive post which originally went live on mydnyht.wordpress.com on 25 January 2011.
I was reading an article today on The Portland Mercury blog by Dan Savage. He posted a link to an interview with a pastor who was discussing homosexuality as a sin. He went on to say the usual: it’s the sin, and not the sinner, I have nothing against the actual person, the church has a bad habit of focusing on some sins and not others, everybody sins… like I said, the usual. Dan Savage went on to say that this was hypocritical. There were two comments on the article. One was by a person whose profile pic was of Chewbacca, and the response was “This kind of discrimination does not even exist on Tatooine!” The other response was saying that they could understand the article, but they simply thought that Dan Savage was jumping to conclusions by saying that the pastor was hypocritical, and that the article was well done otherwise.
It’s great that this pastor has a level head. Maybe his opinions differ from mine, sure. But he’s not telling people to bully gays… he’s not even telling people to hate gays. Just, he disagrees with the lifestyle, but gay people aren’t the only people with less than savory lifestyles.
To be honest? I’d prefer if he just said that fags should go to hell.
When I came out to my mother as bisexual, she told me that she could understand if I was gay, but that she couldn’t understand bisexuality. It wasn’t a valid orientation. Bisexual people were just sluts, like Madonna. Straight people aren’t the only ones who think this, either. In the gay community, bisexuals, queers, genderqueers, trans people, androgynous people, asexual people… they are looked down upon. I say gay community, because that’s what it is. It’s a community for gay men and lesbian women. Everyone else is a flip flop. They can’t pick a side. They don’t lend legitimacy to the cause. They hurt the cause. It’s not ok to date them, because they can’t make up their minds. If a queer woman marries a man, she’s not queer anymore. She’s seen as straight. She’s invisible. She’s isolated because she’s not like the other wives, and because she’s not living the gay lifestyle. Nobody accepts or understands her.
I recently played the coming out game again. I changed my Facebook status to “interested in women” instead of “interested in women and men”. Editor’s Note: Yes, I am one of those people who loves Facebook status changes and considers them indicative of legitimate information. Is this sad? Yes. But I do it anyway. When coming out, I tended to use terms like “gay” or “not straight” or “not interested in men”. I really prefer the term queer. Gay is easier to explain, so I use that a lot. And I can’t stand being called a lesbian. It’s just not how I identify. It feels like too specific and confining of a label. The more generic, the better. I spent the better part of a year in turmoil when I considered my sexual orientation. I had two specific periods in high school where I seriously considered coming out as a lesbian. At the end, I just dismissed it. But the next time, I would feel stronger about it. The feeling was more persistent, and even more confusing. I told a gay friend once that I was afraid of coming out as gay because there was still that chance that I might fall in love with just the right guy and want to marry him. He laughed at me and said, “You’re just clinging to a straight identity because you’re in denial. You’re afraid of coming out and that’s the excuse you use.” And I was. I was terrified. One of the things that bothered me the most when I considered coming out (again) was how my family would react if and when I got married. Coming out as bisexual meant there was still a chance of normalcy. But coming out as gay was a whole different ballpark. What if they wouldn’t come to the wedding? What if they ignored me and shunned me at family reunions? What if they wouldn’t be involved in the life of my partner? In the lives of my children? What if my grandmother, the only grandparent I have left alive, wasn’t a part of my life or my childrens’ lives because she didn’t approve of my “lifestyle”? What if I couldn’t bring my family to the cottages? What if my aunt wouldn’t let me stay there with my partner or children, or worse – what if she wouldn’t let me stay there at all?
These thoughts plagued me, and the worst part was that I didn’t have anybody to talk to about it. I would tell my friends, sure. But they didn’t understand. And they couldn’t make that decision for me. I couldn’t give them this information and wait for a response like, “Oh, based on the things you’ve told me, you’re definitely (insert sexual orientation here).” But the thing that bothered me the very most was sheltering my life from the people I cared about. Because, they love me, but they don’t love that I’m gay. I’m not saying that being gay is my only identifying factor. I’m not saying that people should ever be judged solely on their sexual orientation. But what I am saying is that, just like it’s easier for people to understand the simple “gay/straight” or “male/female” dichotomy, it’s easier for me to understand the idea of “love and total support/hate and total rejection”.
I honestly don’t think I know anyone who would completely block me from their life because of me being gay. I know enough people who have no problem with me being gay, and who would love to hear me talk about the last date I went on with this great girl, and who believe I should be able to marry whomever I want. I know even more people who don’t want to hear about those things, and who don’t approve of those things, but who still love me and want to be involved in (the other parts of) my life. But I also only know a few people who actively show their support for the gay community.
I would rather that the pastor would say that gay people are evil. It would be easier to understand his emotion. It would be easier for me to villanize him and feel better about myself in the process. It would be easier to ignore him. But that’s not what he said. He gave an unclear answer. It was grey. It was middle-of-the-road. It is the answer of a mediator, the kind of answer that is supposed to appease both sides and get everyone to be civil. It is not the answer I want. I can understand the concept of bisexuality, pan-sexuality, and being queer. I can understand the concept of being transgender. I can understand the concept of non-partisan politics. I can understand the concept of human nature, which is neither truly good nor truly evil. I can understand the concept of a god than is neither male nor female, that is not human, that is everywhere and nowhere. But I cannot understand the concept of telling me that I’m only a good person if I don’t fall in love and carry on a healthy, committed, and sincere relationship with someone of the same gender. Or perhaps, the issue is that I don’t want to understand.
Sometimes I will watch celebrities on the television calling on today’s youth to stop bullying gay kids. Sometimes I will watch an episode of Glee where a group of kids bands together to defend a gay friend. Sometimes someone will post a link on facebook to a youtube video that talks about supporting gay rights and gay people. When those things happen, I cry. I cry because it touches me. And I cry because it makes me feel alone. It’s both wonderful and daunting that these strangers come out in support of the gay community. In support of me. It’s wonderful because they take a stand not just for the queer people they know, but for the queer people they don’t know. And it’s daunting because these people are strangers. These are usually not the people I am friends with. These are rarely the people I am related to. These are often not the people I work with. They are people who I don’t know, who I will most likely never know.
I should be grateful that my parents did not abuse me or kick me out of the house when I came out. I should be grateful that I was never subjected to reparative therapy. I should be grateful that the worst gay bashing that ever took place against me in high school was someone writing “DIKE” in one of my notebooks (by the way, “dyke” is the pejorative word for a lesbian, and “dike” is a fancy word for a man-made dam. Goes to show how intelligent bigots are). I should be grateful that I live in a country where being gay is not punishable by death. I should be grateful that I have friends and family who don’t judge me. And I am. But there’s still something missing. There’s that old, stereotypical argument between two people – the one where one person feels isolated and rejected because the other person didn’t say “I love you” enough. Because the other person thought it was assumed and didn’t need to be said. Because the other person didn’t realize how alone the one person felt; the other person didn’t realize how the one person just needed that approval to feel validated. People like me often suffer in silence. And when we speak, so often are we met with resistance. We need that encouragement. We need those people that we care about to be brave enough to stand up with us, and hold our hand. We need that, because some people think we are evil. But mostly, because of the ambivalence we face from so many others.
Because “I love you, just not all of you” is not enough.