So what about the legalization of gay marriage, and how does that affect me? Well, I think it will eventually become legal in all states, and I’ve not spent time or effort in keeping that from occurring. I don’t believe that this new law of the land in and of itself will affect me, however, some the assumptions being used to usher it in, do. And yet I don’t believe that is necessary to crowbar the masses into that box of assumptions and presuppositions in order for all of those who hold differing views of homosexuality to move forward.
Here are a few illustrations gleaned from the past month to shed some light on what I mean…
On Aug. 22nd, the Huffington Post relayed this headline:
“More Than 30 Percent Of Americans Think Gays Can Become Straight”*
My personal response was, “More than 30% of Americans believe I exist! Hoo-rah.” (I refrained from buying a cake or building a parade float to celebrate.) Once I set aside my own sarcasm long enough to read some of the responses to the article, I came across this in the comment section:
Sorry, but there’s a fundamental flaw in the absolute nature of the posing of this question. How many people DON’T know people who used to be straight and are now gay, and people who used to be gay and are now straight? If you don’t think a person’s sexual orientation can change, are you living in a cave somewhere? Naturally, that doesn’t support a belief that ALL people’s sexual orientation can be changed, which is the way the ‘Po [Huffington Post] — and obviously a large number of posters — are attempting to interpret the survey. The survey asked:
“A gay or lesbian person’s sexual orientation… A) can be changed, B) cannot be changed.”
If you know someone who used to be gay and is now straight, you MUST answer A. That is NOT the same as expressing a belief that ALL gays’ sexual orientation can be changed.
Thank you, “pgaert” for that dose of common sense. As a side note, I think that the primary reason that more people wouldn’t answer “A” to that particular survey question is because people like myself who have experienced a difference in their sexual orientation have been silent about it. Our bad.
A few days earlier, I came across this article on identity – and the freedom to acknowledge the fluidity of sexual orientation, with or without faith, by Peter Ould on his blog:
Much of what is contained in that blog post resonated with me.
I think that for many, the assumption that one’s sexual orientation is a permanent, immutable characteristic has become a cornerstone in the fight for the legalization of gay marriage across the country. That is simply a denial of reality.
For my part, I don’t find that it is necessary to hold that presupposition in order to see the laws change. And, unfortunately, it puts those of us who have experienced fluidity in our sexuality in the place of being a wrench in the wheel by default. (I promise that I did not seek change in my attractions in order to wreck anyone’s plan to achieve recognition of their relationship in the eyes of the law.) On the other hand, the cultural pressure to believe that “once gay, always gay” is not helpful for those of us who due to our faith or other reasons are willing to work towards living a different way.
In This World…
In the first part of this series, I mentioned the contrast between the world I lived in growing up, and the world we live in today. And, for the most part, I do believe that it is a safer environment, although I think that it is still not one that would be understanding, or open, to what I went through in seeking to reconcile my sexuality with my faith.
But fortunately I’m not a teenager now, and in this world that I do live in, I’ve been blessed with great relationships with people whom I know do not agree with me. And these are deep matters to be in disagreement over. It cuts to some huge questions in life – about love, our identity, who God is, and what it all means or could mean in the future. It can be very hard to live within the tension of polar opposite ideas, to be willing to take time to listen and to try to build a bridge even while it may feel that you’re in the middle of a white-water river. It’s much easier to blow people off, to arrange your life so that you’re not going to run into those you disagree with, to be polite but keep your distance.
In my first job as a PT, I worked with a lesbian couple. One day one of these ladies came up to me in the clinic and said out of the blue, “I can see a difference.” I thought she was referring to the progress of the client I’d just finished working with. “Yes, she’s been working on her balance exercises at home and you can see a difference in how she’s walking…” I replied, until she cut me off. “No, I mean I can see a difference in your life – you’re more comfortable around men.”
Hearing her say that blew me away. It had been six or seven years since I’d been involved in the small group at Harvest USA, and I was just then starting to experience changes in my attractions. I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, or making a big deal about the newness of it all. (Actually, I was being cautious – I remember how those experiences felt fragile, easily breakable…as if it could or would all blow away.) Yet she not only noticed, she had the guts to say something about it to me.
There are many men and women who have simply accepted me at face value, that I am who I am and they have never questioned me about my sexuality. (At least to my face…) There are people whom I know disagree that seeking change was something that was needed in my life, and who would have been just as happy for me to be standing at the altar with a woman, but they came to my wedding and wished me and my husband well anyway. And that means a great deal tome.
I know through these friendships that it is possible to be supportive (or at least not oppressive) of someone who seeks change in their orientation, and still be “pro-gay” in one’s own political beliefs. You don’t have to pick one side or the other, choosing to only associate with that particular set of individuals. It’s possible to not just be tolerant, but to be engaging – to become involved in another person’s life, and actually care about them. There is an art to living outside of ideological boxes, even in a politically polarized atmosphere. I’m thankful to be surrounded by many of these artistic people. These relationships are of great value to me – I appreciate that at times it has taken extra effort, or caused some to have to re-think their stereotypes or prejudices. (And I pray that I’ve not stumbled into actualizing any of the more negative ones too often.) It would be wonderful to see a world in which this art of living was more widely put into practice.
*For those interested, the survey data may be found here: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/07/31/two-thirds-of-democrats-now-support-gay-marriage-long-term-views-gay-marriage-adoption/#views-homosexuality