I remember watching 20/20 when Rosie O’donnell came out as gay to the public. My sister and I were watching the television quietly for awhile, both of us under the age of thirteen if I remember right.
Kelsey, my sister, turned to me and asked, “Krisi, if I was gay, would you still love me?”
Without hesitation, I responded, “No.”
It is a millisecond of my life which will always haunt me, and I can never take back.
Although my sister is not in fact a lesbian, her ten year old remark, and my response, have set a precedent for our relationship. With one powerful word, I made it clear she would have to fit into a certain mold to be loved by me.
This is a tragic pattern and I want to break it to pieces, both with her and with others.
Before the Rosie O’donnell special, I have no memories of being specifically told not to love lesbians. Even since, there was no Sunday School lesson titled “Do not love those different from you.” It was not taught, in fact the opposite was spoken out loud. But the subliminal mockery of the gay community, the actions of my leaders and peers, built hatred into my understanding of the world.
An understanding which cannot be easily deconstructed.
I tend to avoid the bitter bites on Social Media about the “war on drugs/sex/prayer/blah-blah-blah”, it is destructive and counter productive to make everything into a battlefield. I learned, from the moment with my sister, I tend to react hastily and with regret.
My natural reaction is to hate the church for what it supposedly did to shape my prejudice. To be cynical and distrustful towards the people with which I had spent most of my time.
It would be justified to spite those who I believe have led me astray.
It would be easy to hate a faceless group, who I once identified with, and blame them for my bad prejudices.
It would also be lumping all the people I have loved into a stereotyped sub-culture and hating them for not fitting into a certain mold.
I think about Jesus, and how he loved his people. The one’s in church, the ones broken on the side of the road, the ones thrown before him, pulled strait from their lovers bed, the good citizens, the dazed, the confused, the righteous.
He forgave them, Jesus had compassion.
I want to hate people for hurting me. Or maybe I want to hate them because it is easier than developing a new understanding of the world.
I read this post from Rachel Held Evens about a recent news story, concerning all sorts of holy war battling. She mentions the fact that Evangelicals won their war and lost a generation.
It would be so easy to wash my hands of these Evangelicals, to spit on them as I perceive them spitting on others. But what would be more difficult, would be to not walk away.
To look on them, and just like Jesus, choose to have compassion.
It’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy.
I learned as a tiny twelve year old, rapid hatred is the most regrettable action.
A few years ago, I went to my sister and told her, that should she ever chose to come out as gay, I would in fact love her. This wasn’t just about her orientation, it was about a principle of choosing love, no matter how different someone is from me. I wanted her to know she didn’t have to fit a certain mold to be loved by me.
This act is part of how I am re-writing my understanding of the world. First, I make it clear to my sister, that no matter who she is, I will love her. And this little shift teaches me knew habits, new understandings.
’cause grey is not a compromise –
It is the bridge between two sides.
The shores on which our stubborn land
And restless seas collide.
Grey is not just middle ground,
It is a truce that waits to be signed.
I would even argue that, from where we stand,
It most represents the color of God’s eyes.
So, let’s fold our atlas into paper planes.
Change is slow, but I feel it taking shape