Friday, January 6, 2012

Homosexuality and Me

I remember the first time I saw two men kissing each other. I was probably 10 or 11, living in Albany, Georgia. We were at a picnic area by the Flint River, where my father's company was having a fish fry. My mother made the best hush puppies, so even if you didn't like fried catfish (and why wouldn't you?), it was worth it for the hush puppies alone. My friend and I were running all over the place, and as we dashed through the parking lot, we saw two men kissing, tenderly and lovingly. I didn't know anything about homosexuality, and my friend and I giggled, thinking how weird they were.

When I had my first job out of high school, I had a huge crush on someone at work. He was a beautiful man. Blond hair and austere grey eyes. I confessed my crush to a co-worker, who laughed at me. "He's gay," she said, and I didn't understand. Looking back, I realise that I was remarkably naive.

I had become a mormon by then, and was a very TBM. And as I became aware of homosexuality and what it was, I toed the party line. "It isn't good to be alone, it isn't good, and when you find someone to love you really should join hands and be together," to quote Janice Kapp Perry (I believe--too lazy to go double-check). And joining hands and being together meant a man and a woman. That's all. Anything else was wrong, wrong, wrong.

And then I learned about AIDS, and how devastating a disease it was, and although I don't remember looking upon it as God's judgment on homosexuals, I still thought being homosexual was wrong.

I remember writing a letter to the student newspaper at the University of Utah protesting the thought of homosexual parents adopting children. It makes me cringe now--some of the best parents I know are gay, and I understand now that being a good parent has nothing to do with your sexual identity.

I worked for the School of Social Work at a university, and got to know a lot of lesbians, and they are fantastic women, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to get to know them. And some of the people I met online are homosexual, and people I've met through theatre are homosexual, and my life is so much richer for having them in it.

I felt so floored last night when my internet buddy (who is no longer a buddy either on facebook or on a group to which I belonged until last night) posted that horrible self-righteous question about whether we should get over the fact that some people are murderers.  I don't think I would have ever felt that way about it, although since it's the person I am now speaking, I could be wrong. I hope I'm not. I hope that I would have never compared homosexuality to murder or any other crime.

A very large cause of cognitive dissonance for me over the last 10 years or so was the issue of homosexuality and how the church leaders viewed it. Because by then my personal beliefs were so completely opposite. I respected people whether they were homosexual or heterosexual. So I kept trying to understand how the church could say homosexuality is a sin, but I couldn't make myself believe it. I wobbled back and forth, trying to make everything match up. But it wouldn't. I tried thinking that I was the one who was wrong, but I couldn't believe it. I tried to say, well, that's how it is here on earth, and God will sort everything out. But I couldn't believe it.

So when everything fell apart for me, religion-wise, this past spring, the first thing I felt was this huge weight rolling off of my shoulders. If I tell you now that I believe this or that, I really genuinely believe it. I don't have to condemn people because of things that they have no control over.  I realised that if someone told me I had to be homosexual, and they sent me to therapy and did the horrible things that have been done to homosexuals in the name of turning them straight, I still wouldn't and couldn't be homosexual. So what right do I have to insist that a homosexual person is wrong, and s/he could become heterosexual if s/he tried hard enough?  No right. None whatsoever.

I am deeply ashamed for any negative things I have said regarding homosexuals and homosexuality in the past. I am so sorry. Obviously I cannot go back and undo any of that, or any of the harm I did in the past. But here and now I stand up and say enough. I will never do that again. If I lose friends because of it, then sobeit. I don't want to be friends with narrow-minded bigots.

What's that little saying--a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still? I realise I can't convince anyone against his/her will. The facebook exchange last night showed me that. There's nothing I can say or do to change that woman's mind. I think she is miserably unhappy, and doesn't realise how much of that misery comes from the church and the beliefs she holds as a result. And I'm so sorry for her. But no one is going to get on my facebook wall and tear down other human beings.

3 comments:

  1. I think it's part of the Mormon programming. Before I was LDS I was very laissez-faire about homosexuality- I figured that there wasn't really any harm with it. As I became a member I felt a little uncomfortable about it though for a time. Overtime I realized that it wasn't homosexuality I felt uncomfortable with, it was the Church's stance on homosexuality. Who are we to say who to love, who to marry?

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  2. I feel your pain. I didn't start my journey out of Mormonism (and into logical, authentic ways of thinking) until quite recently, which means that i was still deeply embroiled in the church for the whole Prop 8 fiasco in California. what makes me just sick is that even though I was living in Idaho, a woman from a ward in CA called and said she's seen one my wedding photos online, and wanted to blow it up poster-sized with the caption "Marriage: Between a man and a woman" to be used to post at all the stake centers in CA. I hadn't really given much personal thought to gay marriage at all, but since i was still a staunch Mormon I thought it was the Lord giving me an opportunity to support a righteous cause - so I gave her the go-ahead. It still makes my stomach turn that MY FACE was used to promote AGAINST equality. If I could go back in time.... o_O Now, every time I post something pro-gay or pro-marriage equality on facebook, I hope that it's undoing a tiny bit of the damage I could have caused by my cluelessness and apathetic blindness.

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