I posted this on Facebook last year. The childhood memory kept creeping into my mind until I felt like I was "supposed" to write it down and put it out there. For the most part, it was well received. I think a few people were offended by it, but that's okay as well. We all have our life experiences that imprint on us and embed thoughts and feelings that sometimes we don't really understand. It was not my intention to judge, or incite defensiveness or anger. Only to convey my own, personal point of view on the subject.
Anyhow, given what's happening in our courts right now, it seemed appropriate to post this now. I re-read it and really, really, really thought about editing it and making it "better". But I wrote it in one sitting inspired by what I was thinking and feeling at the time, so it feels appropriate to leave it in it's original form. So here it is, untouched, imperfect, but my view on the prejudice against homosexuality in our culture today.
With everything in the news lately about "gay" rights and "same sex" marriage, I find myself going back to a childhood memory time and time again.
I grew up in a small town in Alabama. When I was about 10 years old, or maybe even younger, I remember a lot of talk among the kids at the bus stop about a black family that had bought a house in our neighborhood. Apparently, a lot of the "grown ups" were really angry and upset about this. There were meetings and discussions about how they might stop this family from buying the house. They were mad at the homeowners for selling their home to a black family. My parents weren't among the group of adults rallying against this black family, but I heard the talk none-the-less. I remember at the time feeling very scared because the grown ups were so upset. Without really articulating the emotion, I realize now that I was really thinking "Wow... there must be something really bad about black people. If the grown ups are this upset (and grown ups know everything, right?), then there must be something really dangerous and bad about black people."
I went to a private "Christian" school when I was in first grade. The school was located in a predominantly black neighborhood. The school teachers would yell at any passersby if they were black, and I guess walking too slowly. They would yell things like "you just get on outa here! Go on now! Get outa here!" And they used the "n" word. These were my teachers. Teachers are grown ups and grown ups know everything, right? So there must be something really scary and bad about black people. This, again, was my "take away". I came home from school one day and used that "n" word... my parents lit into me like nobody's business.
I was fortunate to have been raised by parents who didn't spew this hate, and admonished me when I repeated what I had heard others say... other grown ups. I was a child. My parents sent the clear message to me that this was wrong. But what about the children of those parents who didn't want that black family in our neighborhood? Their "take away", without a doubt, was that there must be something really scary and bad about black people. This is how bigotry and hate begins. We don't question it when we are children if we hear it from the grown ups... and unless we are guided otherwise, we won't question it when we are adults.
So now it begins again... some gay people want to get married. They want to have children. They want to live in "our neighborhoods" and have the things and rights that "we" have. We talk about "gay" rights and the equal right to marriage. But they are human rights. The right to love who we choose... to live and love openly... without fear of being persecuted, beaten or even murdered. They are not out to hurt anyone or "recruit" anyone. They just want to live their lives... have the same choices we have... and be happy.
There are children today hearing the fear and hatred spewing from their parents' mouths about gay people. They are hearing this from the grown ups.
I am a grown up. I have children. I don't want my children learning fear, hatred and bigotry from other grown ups. If you are a grown up... think of the children and the message you are sending. Is it one of acceptance and love? Or is it one of fear and loathing? If it is the latter, I would ask you to question why you care so much about what other people do that in no way, whatsoever, affects any aspect of the choices you make in your life or how you live your life? Try to imagine being that hated and persecuted person. Try to imagine when your fear began... was it because of something a grown up said when you were a child?
We all have the right to choose the kind of people we want to be.... we can change our minds... we are grown ups. Let's act like grown ups.