I realized this morning I have to write about this.
I am ashamed to say that up through high school and part of college I possessed ignorant beliefs about sexual orientation. It didn't help that my ninth grade sex ed teacher, on the first day of class, told us that he "didn't believe in" homosexuality, because he thought God created manly women for feminine men, or something like that. Yes, I know. It makes even less sense now than it did 12 years ago. This is the environment in which I tried to make sense of things. I remember having a conversation with one particularly pious friend about whether or not people could choose to be straight. I said I thought they couldn't. She was quick to disagree and send me the lyrics of a Christian rock band whose song went something like "it's okay gay guy, you can like girls again!" My parents didn't talk about it much. They never demonstrated hate towards gay people, but they never specifically told me to love and accept others regardless of their sexual orientation, either. So I just wandered along confused, thinking it was weird and maybe wrong. I hate that I quite possibly contributed to, or at least did nothing to lessen, the hurt and confusion experienced by people around me who were struggling at that time to understand and accept themselves.
College was better. It was the same general location but a bigger, more diverse pond, and I met all kinds of people. Once at an organizations fair, a girl came up and handed me a bag of Skittles with a note on it asking me to join the gay-straight alliance. I didn't join but now I wish I had. At some point in my first couple of years there, probably gradually, I came to see how wrong I had been. From then to now, classes, people, events, even movies (Saved, The Family Stone) have helped me develop a better understanding and acceptance of others.
Now I have two daughters, and when I read about young people being tormented for being gay until they commit suicide, I can't help but imagine this situation happening to one of them. I imagine my precious Suzi realizing and trying to accept that she is a lesbian, and some idiot playing pranks and saying hateful things and invading her privacy until finally she calls me from college, crying and alone and hopeless. Thinking she has no way out. Thinking she might just end her life to make the hurt stop... I can't stop myself from crying when I think of it, because I know that in this world we live in, it could happen. How can I describe this emotion I feel? Battle rage. That's it.
Please take a moment to imagine this happening to your own child or, if you're not a parent, someone you love. If you let this run through your head and think you'd do anything other than dash up to your child's dorm room on the spot, tell that roommate or whomever to leave her the hell alone, give your baby a big hug and tell her you love her always, then I don't know what's wrong with you. I know there are parents who tell their children to pretend to be someone they aren't. I know there are parents who tell their children to leave and not come back when they find out they are gay. I don't understand it. I want my girls to know that our home is a safe place for them and that they will always be accepted and loved here. I want them to know they can always call mom and dad and tell us anything. That we will listen and understand and try to help. That we, if no one else, will stand up for them.
If you read about young people being tormented until they are suicidal for being gay and don't feel this is wrong and that we should take a stand against it, I don't know what to say other than I'll pray for you. If you are a Christian and don't feel you can stand up for those who are losing their lives over this, you should pray for yourself. Pray for truth and wisdom and the courage to stand up for what is right in God's eyes despite your friends and possibly even your church telling you otherwise. I'm pretty sure Jesus never wanted us to hurt anyone. I'm pretty sure He wanted us to love one another, which to me includes standing up for others when we see they are being hurt. If we claim to be Christians but can't even do that, we are just making a bunch of noise for nothing.
So to start, I am going to hit publish on this post so people will know what I think. Jordan and I are doing our best to raise our children to respect and love those who are different from them. We hold onto the hope that as more parents raise their children to love, those who love will greatly outnumber those who hate. And we will be wearing purple on October 20th. Will you?