Take That, Prop H8!

This doesn’t have much to do with homelessness, but I’m so overjoyed that I’m posting it here anyway, because it does have a lot to do with my personal values.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m big on equality.  HUGE on equality.  This is largely because I was raised to hate gay people and view them as abominations.  My mom casually bandied around the words “fag” and “dyke” and similar hate slurs a LOT at my house.  Don’t believe me?  Ask my friend Brandon.  He visited a year and a half ago and was deeply uncomfortable to hear my parents and another JW discussing whether Jon Stewart was still worth watching, since “now he stands up for all of those disgusting fags.”  I was embarrassed and ashamed.

You see, I realized early on that I’m not the hateful type. The first friend of mine to come out was in my dance troupe.  I was 18 and newly escaped from my home and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  He was someone I’d known for a couple of years, liked and respected.  When I was at my lowest, he handed me $100 that I knew he could barely afford himself, and wouldn’t take it back.  He spent hours one day helping me load and drive about sixty moving boxes.  (I should also add that when I was stuck living with the world’s absolute most evil, heinous, psychostalker of a roommate, he came over to my house and loudly – hilariously! – snark-talked about how ugly and rude she was within hearing range for a few hours, passive-aggressively whipping her into a glorious frothing frenzy of hatred and annoyance – something I didn’t have the spine to do.  You can’t buy sweetness like that.)  I couldn’t bring myself to hate a friend, or to view him any differently than I did before.  He was the same genuine, caring person that I’d known before he’d come out.  Absolutely nothing had changed.  It was the beginning of my awakening on this social issue.

I also learned last year that I have two half-sisters, and that one of them is a lesbian.  She is an intelligent, articulate girl with an incredibly bright future ahead of her and a seemingly unlimited capacity for affection and acceptance.  Her family has been encouraging and supportive of me while my own have offered deafening silence to my face and (a little bird tells me) a churning rumor mill behind my back.  But, I’m supposed to hate this girl, who’s a great person and has got half of the same blood as me, for no other reason than her sexual orientation.  Nope, not gonna happen.

There’s another friend.  We met at work, actually, before realizing later on that not only were we both ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, but that our families knew one another, that we even attended the same congregation at one point.  It was one of those Twilight Zone moments.  This former coworker identifies as genderqueer.  She was never baptized a JW, but her mother is still one. Her mother still loves and speaks to her, but “doesn’t want to know” about the gay thing, so you can imagine that’s a smidge of an uncomfortable elephant in the room.

These are my friends.  These are my family.  They want what everybody wants.  To live their lives in peace, maybe fall in love and marry – or hell, maybe they don’t personally want to get married.  Who knows?  But they want the option.  They deserve the option; they deserve equality and the same basic rights afforded to the rest of us.  They’ve hurt nobody, they threaten nobody, and in fact they’ve loved and supported me when my own flesh and blood wouldn’t.  This “God” fellow saw me as a freak; Kris and Lexi and Danny are among the others who saw me as a fellow human being in need of a little TLC and understanding.  It’s possible that they don’t know the extent to which each of them touched my life and made a difference, so I’d just like to say so here, up front.

I love each and every one of them.  I have been privileged to be called their friend.  And I am especially pleased to learn that a few minutes ago, Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage, ruling Prop 8 unconstitutional.  Congratulations to my friends, and to California.  There’s still an uphill battle, and I’m sure plenty of appeals will drag on and on, but for now, for this moment, my home state is upholding equality.

Comments

  1. Em says:

    Thank you for being so supportive! It’s always cool when someone gets it.

    And, believe it or not, there actually is a link to homelessness and homophobia. Because, unfortunately, the estimate is 26% of the teens who come out to their parents are told they have to leave home and according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who did a study on this in 2007, at that time there was an estimated 1.6 million homeless youth and 20 to 40% of them identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

    http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/homeless_youth

    Homophobia is the issue in both Prop 8 and a huge percentage of our homeless youth.

    So props to you for being supportive. You’re more on topic than you knew.

  2. ~B~ says:

    This is a great point, Em! I’ve been contacted by several homeless youth who were thrown out because of their sexual orientation, including a lesbian couple with JW parents. It’s sickening to me to see families betray their own children and hide behind religion as an excuse for their homophobia.

  3. Em says:

    Ha! Should have known that you were totally up on this and know all about it. Thanks!

  4. ~B~ says:

    No, thank you, you’re totally right and I appreciate you commenting about it because I totally missed the chance to point out the link in my post :)

  5. Rev. Cynthia says:

    To add on to Em’s comment:
    The State of Transgender California: Results from the 2008 California Transgender Economic Health Survey conducted by the Transgender Law Center reports the following:
    •1 in 5 transgendered people reported experiencing homelessness at some point since first identifying as transgender
    •31% stated that they were denied access to homeless shelters
    •15% were thrown out by shelter staff, once it was discovered that they were transgender
    •50% of those who accessed the shelter reported being harassed by shelter residents
    •1 in 3 decided to leave the shelter system due to poor treatment and unsafe conditions

    So, there are definitely links between the LGBT community and homelessness.

    Thanks for another timely post, Bri!

  6. George says:

    I know you will delete this as you have other replies I’ve posted.

    That being said as a former JW myself I have to say that the JW’s you lived around do not reflect the majority of JW’s and their views on homosexuality.

    Yes, they see it as against God’s Law but that is no excuse to use hateful word or speech. Moreover true JW’s do not hate ones that are homosexuals, just the act or lifestyle.

    The word “hate” should be viewed as “an intense feeling of dislike.”* It shouldn’t be associated with anger. Sadly, most people do.

    I’m very sorry you grew up under these conditions. It’s great to see the direction your life has progressed and it’s all your doing.

    As me myself I’m very happy to see Prop 8 struck down. I feel everyone should have the same rights. Everyone.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatred

  7. ~B~ says:

    Hi George,

    I can’t say that I remember you or know which replies of yours that I deleted (I tend to only delete hateful comments or those which I find offensive).

    I don’t see anything in the above as inciting hatred, so I shall let it stand. I also appreciate the kind compliment and am glad that you believe everybody should have the same rights.

    That said, the “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing never washed with me. Mainly because one’s sexual orientation is innate and a private issue between consenting adults, so I see nothing sinful or perverted about the act/lifestyle.

    I would (justifiably, I think) find it quite offensive if somebody said to me: “I love you, but I believe that (because of your personal, private life which harms/threatens absolutely nobody) God will destroy you. You know, unless you deny everything about yourself, down to your most basic genetic makeup. Then, maybe you’ll make it unscathed. But until then, I love you, but you’re a pervert. God told me so. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!”

    Look, I’d be lying if I said that all JWs use hate slurs like the ones above. Many of them are too classy to do so, and at least try to practice what they view as acceptance and tolerance (even if it takes the form of the still-offensive “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric). I think that on some level they don’t quite realize that it’s hatred, or homophobia.

    But I’d also be lying if I said that my mother was the only JW that I’ve heard use those slurs, and speak of gays with hatred and fear. And this is in California, where JWs tend to be a little more laid-back, hip and groovy, comparatively. It was much, much worse and more prevalent when I spent nearly two years in North Carolina, smack-dab in the center of the Bible Belt. Just because they might not say it to “worldlies” out in field service, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t say it to each other. It’s amazing how much people let their guard down when they think nobody’s listening, or when they think that the person to whom they’re speaking shares their religious/moral values. JWs often rein in some of their more controversial views around “worldly” people – heck the Reasoning book trains them to do so, so as not to scare the fish off before they can be hooked and reeled in. It’s why if you confront them point-blank about a potentially embarrassing belief at the door, they’ll try to skirt the issue and change the subject, or reply in a carefully phrased, deceptive manner straight from the Reasoning book.

    I’ve been at doors with JWs (not my parents) who have turned around when the householder closed the door in their face, and said, right there on the person’s own doorstep, things like “well, they’re going to die anyway”, or, “another one who’ll be changing his/her tune at Armageddon!” Are all JWs the type to say such hateful things aloud? No. But you know what? It’s still what they believe, even if they aren’t saying it. The hatred underlying the belief is no less potent simply because it goes unspoken or, when spoken of, is tempered/watered down so as to seem more acceptable or palatable. It’s still nothing but doublethink in its purest form.

    And no matter how couched the delivery in “love the sinner, hate the sin”, I’ve heard from convention platforms year after year, “We must hate what God hates!”, and I’ve heard speakers – elders, CO’s, DO’s, Bethelites – call homosexuals a perversion and an abomination. That’s about as clear and unambivalent as it gets. Whether you define the motive for hatred as anger or dislike, I have no room in my life for hatred of innocents.

    I’m an atheist now, and very happy about it, although I’m not going to be so arrogant as to say that a god couldn’t exist (lack of belief in a god and assertion that it is impossible for there to be a god are two completely different concepts). There may be some kind of higher power out there; I don’t know. But I do have a sneaking suspicion that if there is, he/she/it is absolutely nothing like the Christian Bible, or indeed any of the other religious textbooks, make out. I’ve noticed that the type of things “God” considers sinful and evil generally tend to say a lot more about the superstitious human beings that wrote said textbooks, rather than shed any sort of enlightenment on a supposedly superior, supreme, perfect being.

  8. May says:

    Wow. I totally relate to growing up with religious hatred. And this: “my own have offered deafening silence to my face and (a little bird tells me) a churning rumor mill behind my back” is so similar to how my family treats me, it’s scary!!

    Great post!

  9. ~B~ says:

    Hi, May!

    I hear ya. It’s also interesting to me how those of us with sorta fucked-up childhoods or strained parental relationships tend to unconsciously gravitate towards and find one another. It seemed like the circles I ran in boasted a higher percentage of us. Or maybe it’s just more common than people realize. Or a little of both.

    (On a side note, visited your blog and OMG adore your antique spoon collection and steampunk goggles! Also, your friend who recreates hideous thrift store clothing is brilliant! I love shopping thrift stores, but don’t – yet – know how to sew/alter stuff. That post made me want to grab a bunch of scissors and start hacking and slashing to see what I can make!)

  10. Vikki says:

    If you can’t figure out why homosexuality is wrong, riddle me this. What happens if EVERYONE was born homosexual going forward? How long would humanity last? (no turkey basters allow)

  11. ~B~ says:

    The same thing that would happen if everyone in the world was, say, born infertile or born a hermaphrodite or born asexual (celibate due to lack of desire for sex of any variety) or any number of other occurrences that make natural reproduction unlikely or impossible without artificial assistance or adoption. There are also people who lack the desire to have children; child-free by choice.

    So what? Doesn’t make those conditions sinful or evil or wrong, and it doesn’t make those people sinful or evil or wrong. It is what it is, a spontaneous occurrence. These are good people working with what nature gave ‘em, and harming nobody in the process.

    Even if it WERE a sexual choice rather than a matter of genetics (which it’s not), you still can’t honestly claim that any relationship involving quirky/idiosyncratic sexual behavior between consenting adults is threatening or harmful to the rest of humanity. There are people out there into BDSM, or who get off on throwing pies in one another’s faces, or wearing chicken outfits…Who the fuck cares? It may not be my bag, but it doesn’t invalidate their love or relationship or right to get married or even just their sexytime fun. None of my business. Just because it’s not the norm doesn’t make it evil.

    It’s a moot point to speculate on “what would happen to the human race if everybody was gay?” You might as well ask, “what would happen to the human race if the sky started raining nonstop giant doughnuts and lamprey eels?!?!?!” OK, I could see there being issues there about the survival of the human race, what with eventually being buried under mounds of rainbow-sprinkled saturated fats and ravenous, sharp-toothed ichthyoids…but is it really something you’re worried about? No, because statistically you’re never gonna need to worry about it. So, breathe a sigh of relief, Vikki.

    Not everybody is gay. Not everybody is infertile, or a hermaphrodite, or whatever else you want to throw out there. Elderly people can’t reproduce, either. Is it wrong for a pair of 80-year-olds in a nursing home to find love late in life and remarry? Funny, I read stories like that and find it charming and delightful that two people find such happiness in one another. Now, how about worrying about REAL threats currently facing the human race? How about REAL issues threatening our survival? How about worrying about oil spills destroying our ecosystem or polar ice caps melting and flooding our planet or meteors the size of Texas blowing us up and sending us the way of the dinos or warring countries nuclear-weaponing one another into oblivion until Earth is a charred, radiated wasteland incapable of supporting even microbial life, much less genteel human society? Because all of these may actually be valid concerns, whereas I have a hard time believing there’s even the slightest possibility that the entire human race is going to wake up tomorrow, or even a few thousand years from now, with a sudden and inexplicable interest in Judy Garland records and exclusive shagging of the same sex until the human race disappears into oblivion.

    …And if they did? So what? Why are no turkey basters allowed? Does science just disappear in this imaginative, irrational universe of yours? So everybody wakes up gay one day and is too busy having a great time grinding their naughty bits and being tolerant and accepting of one another to perpetuate war or discrimination or cruelty…and you’re worried about them creating their children through test tubes and artificial insemination? Children who will ultimately be raised with love and happiness and smiles regardless of how they are conceived? I’ve gotta say, a universe populated by test-tube babies by no means sounds like the most horrific possibility for the species.

    * * * * *

    But let’s get real, and cut through the silly, speculative, impossible bullshit you’re proposing, and get to the REAL point here. How would you feel if it were the flip side? If 90% of the world were gay and YOU were considered the aberration? Would you feel comfortable allowing the 90% of gay people to turn around and vote YOU off the island? Invalidate YOUR love with a partner of the opposite sex, because the majority believed YOU were the “yucky” one? Because that’s what it all truly boils down to, isn’t it – not logic or science or statistics. That’s it in a nutshell – you find what two consenting adults do in their private bedroom “icky”, so you pull the “God thinks you’re gross! Eeeeeew!” card (because apparently, like you, your god is a mental four-year-old and still believes in cooties). If the roles were reversed, I don’t think you would go quietly into the good night, would you? I think that you would want to fight it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, too. I think that you would be screaming to high heaven that just because you were in the 10% minority, that didn’t make you wrong or evil or sinful, that you still had rights even though the majority didn’t share your personal values.

    But gay people aren’t fighting to take away your rights, are they? They aren’t fighting your right to marry, they aren’t fighting to turn you gay or indoctrinate your children. They’re simply fighting to live their lives and have the same rights as you and I. If you believe that your god has a problem with them, then fine, let him take care of it in his own time. Or if you think that it’s “unnatural”, then sit back and see if natural selection takes care of it. But gay people are here, on this Earth, NOW – they are citizens, they have rights, and they don’t all share the same belief in your god or your values.

    Laws and rights should not be based on religion. You can NOT have equality in a country that simultaneously boasts freedom of religion, yet creates the laws of the land based upon ONE religious outlook. The civil rights of a minority should not be put to a vote. Not so long ago, the popular majority also believed that interracial marriage was aberrant and unnatural, that black people should be slaves, that Japanese-American citizens should be put in concentration camps, and that women should not be allowed to vote. The popular majority opposed to these citizens’ equal rights FAR exceeded the number opposed to gay rights. Prop H8 was passed by a “majority” of something like 1.5% of the vote. That’s miniscule. It certainly pales in comparison to the majority who opposed the other minorities I’ve mentioned.

    Which gives me hope. Very slowly, people are changing for the better, and bigotry is dying. In another decade or so, bigots like you will be such a minority, they won’t even be worth mentioning, and perhaps a few decades after that, they’ll have either come around to reality, or died out completely.

    Until then, kindly STFU and get the hell off of my blog, loony bigot. Your hateful propaganda is unwelcome here.

  12. Matt says:

    If you can’t figure out why drinking beer is wrong, riddle me this. What happens if EVERYONE drank nothing but beer going forward? How long would humanity last?

    What? You mean this isn’t a valid argument against drinking beer?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    • ~B~ says:

      You rock so hard :) Seriously, I need to memorize all those argument types and fallacies and whatnot. It would help make things so much more concise, and then I wouldn’t have to get all ranty ;)

  13. Jul says:

    Win, Bri… on so many levels. =)

  14. My white family, especially my uncle would use the N word and hate on gays all through my childhood. I was always shy around my uncle…he is very intelligent but not that wise in my opinion. I finally blew about 2 years ago…I called HIM the N word. He was in SHOCK that I said that to him. I shouldn’t have, but I thought it was poetic justice. My Uncle is an asshole grande but I love him, still. I know I have my faults too.

  15. Kristin says:

    to George, Yes, “hate” should not always be associated with anger although it most often is. When you are talking about “hating” the taste of a food, or the annoying bite of a mosquito, THAT may be “dislike”. But when you are talking about a group of people that you “intensely dislike” it is usually caused by “fear” and “ignorance” of those people, and one often reacts in anger when threatened by something they don’t understand and are afraid of.
    They do not call them “intense feeling of dislike crimes”. The wikipedia definition (and don’t assume wikipedia is the expert) refers to an “intense” feeling, and that intense feeling is so severe, it is called HATE.

  16. ~B~ says:

    Amen to that, Kristin!

  17. Gavin says:

    hi bri,

    i have one thing to say to prop 8, its the straights who have the homosexuals .. blame them : )

    have a great day!

    ps. VIVA OC!

  18. Darrin says:

    LOL Gavin…good one! I’ve never been the marrying type but everyone should be given the right. People forget what this country was founded on. Freedom ;)

  19. Constantine says:

    So just answer me this question; everyone who voted for prop 8 are haters and bigots? I don’t need a paragraph just a simple yes or no. I am curious to who you all would respond to this question.

    • Admin says:

      To me? Yes. There’s no other reason to vote for an (unconstitutional) law that squelches a minority’s rights, is there? For whatever reason (dislike, religious affiliations, the idea that it’s “unnatural”, etc.), those who voted for Prop 8 foisted their own personal feelings and beliefs onto a minority, whose lives are personal and private and whose existences and marriages do not harm them in any way. This is a civil rights issue. It should never have been put to a vote in the first place. Those who voted for it fail to grasp that it’s absolutely none of their business how gay people choose to live their lives or whether they choose to marry or not.

      There is absolutely no non-bigoted or non-hating reason to have voted for Prop 8. And yes, that includes “I have no problem with gay people, I even have gay friends, it’s just that God says it’s a sin for gay people to marry”. Hiding behind your Bible is a majorly pussy excuse. Not everyone holds your beliefs or worships your god, and you have no right to foist your interpretation of the Bible on others, and especially not in politics, where there is supposed to be a clear definition between church and state.

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