“Okay, so you’re saying you left on winter break dating a boy. And you’re coming back from summer break gay, and you’ve met a girl?”
“Sooooo, I hope you broke it off with Chris? Cuz that would be rude.”
“Did you hear the part where I figured out I’m gay, Les?”
We laughed until we cried. Pre-outting she was a stunning beauty with an anger or struggle in her eyes. Doubt. Post-outting, she’s a stunning beauty who has such an new confidence and understanding of herself. It was an immediate relief and understanding in her. I can’t imagine that struggle that you can’t quite figure out, and then click. You get it, it makes sense, and then it’s going to be one of the hardest spiritual struggles. How can the one thing that finally feels like an entire life answer cast such doubt on your entire belief structure? Stupid straight people. That’s how.
Now, I don’t mean to stereotype all straight people as stupid. I’m sure there’s stupid gay people, although I’ve never met one. Because LGBT people are forced to think. They are forced (by the stupid straight people) to think on their sexual orientation and their ethical beliefs – and then after they figure all that out they have to defend their sexual orientation to the stupid straight people’s beliefs. And I don’t get that.
Several years ago, when a gay friend of mine told me he was going to Rome, as a new Catholic, I asked him if he’d get me a rosary. He went the extra mile for me and attended a mass Mass and held up my rosary beads and had them blessed for me.
Granted, said friend had been accused and demeaned by the very church that I so revered but looked past all that hurt my simple request. Religion aside, he just extended love for me.
My friend knew what the rosary blessing and beads would mean to me, even if he is insulted by the very faith I was part of. He went to the Vatican and showed love and compassion. Every time I’d see those rosary beads, I couldn’t shake this feeling of embarrassment. It’s not so much the Catholic faith as much as the Catholic faith as it’s interpreted and what me being part of said faith communicated to people I loved and cared for very much.
Through simple experiences like the rosary incident – I’ve learned it’s not enough to just accept LGBT. We have to live together and share an open community and conversation. I don’t think it’s as much of an understanding of our sexual orientation differences as much as it is to understand the social injustice differences.
There were other reasons, but eventually, we left the Catholic Church. I wanted to communicate to all people in my life that my faith wasn’t exclusive. I wanted to teach my kids, and learn myself how to lead an inclusive faith.
There’s been other revelations in my relationships with gay friends and family. My writer pal, Wade Rouse, wrote in one of his memoirs, America’s Boy, about his experience in understanding his own sexuality and his faith. The entire book, as far as I’m concerned is a raw, honest look at one man’s walk into his own skin. As I read it, there are many parallels in gay and straight relationships and struggles with family and love. The book is important for us naïve straight folk to grasp the entire concept of homosexuality, which simply put, it’s loving another human being.
Wade has a column called The Go-To Gay.It’s mostly a light humor look at our differences, but if you read closely, you’ll see, Wade is teaching us of our similarities.
There are differences. And as much as I’d like to think I totally get it all, I still unknowingly offend. For example, it’s never a great idea to greet your gay co-worker with, “What’s up, homie?” No matter how super hip-hop you think you’re being.
In another instance, a straight friend of mine has a buddy who was ordained to marry people. He also happens to be gay. My pal asked her ordained buddy to marry she and her husband. When her friend said no, she was shocked. It turns out, that the gay buddy didn’t feel like marrying a straight couple – he kind of felt like it would be a mockery of the gay guy who is legally able to conduct a wedding but not have one of his own.
On another occasion, I got into a discussion with my pal Wade about trend of bachelorette parties going to gay bars. I thought the gay men didn’t want the bachelorette party there because, hello, they’re ladies. Or maybe women are bad tippers. I don’t know. Through an honest discussion, I learned that perhaps it’s offensive to flaunt the fact that as a straight woman you’re there celebrating your legal marriage and basically flaunting it in gay men’s faces who can’t celebrate the same basic human right, but he can serve you up the best Apple Martini you’ve ever had.
There’s so much more discussion and ground work than just “allowing” or welcoming LGBT into our church communities. There’s more to proving that the Bible says over and over and over and over (y’all get it?) to just love one another. I’ll let the theologians and scholars prove that. So that when they do, and us simple straight folk accept all that, then know that there’s more, there’s a lot more.
And that’s my Go-To the Straight with no theological background take on all of this. We continue dialogue and learning, with open hearts and minds. And then simply love one another. Like the Bible tells us to.