As you know if you’ve read my last few posts, I’ve been asked by a nephew who is a leader in his evangelical church to answer some questions about my life in general, and gay marriage in particular. He asks a series of questions, and I will answer them one at a time to give him time to digest my answers. Here are his final questions and my responses:
4) In what ways are you pleased and/or frustrated with progress in this area, socially and politically, in our country?
Obviously I’m pleased that my family is now legally recognized by our country. No one can keep me from Traf’s side if she’s ill by insisting our family is illegitimate (again, a deliberately chosen word). No doctors can refuse to give me pertinent information about her, and must accept my directives as her medical representative when she’s unable to do so.
When I die, she will inherit my belongings in the same manner that your wife will inherit yours, without having to pay the exorbitant taxes of a non-spouse and thereby lose half or more of what we shared together in life. She will be my widow instead of a mourning friend and will be accorded the respect and benefits due her.
We are raising our three-year-old great-grandson. I know you’re beginning to understand how great an undertaking that is, with all the worries and fears that any parent faces. Every minute of every day and night we guard him from harm, worrying over his health, safety, and happiness. I’m pleased that his playmates in school will (for the first time) understand that the family he is growing up in is as valid as their own. Although he will eventually run into the prejudicial bigotry against rainbow families in which such a large segment of our society indulges, perhaps it won’t hit him as young as it did our granddaughter only a few years back, or Traf’s daughters when they were children. Maybe now, we’ll attend school events together rather than one at a time to keep people confused about our relationship and thereby deflect potential abuse from our kids.
But, I’m frustrated that the LGBT community is facing such a serious backlash from those who are angered by our legalized marriages. Bullying bigots and self-righteous prigs are encouraging an ‘ew…ick’ response to us, again, based on assumptions concerning one aspect of our lives, our sexuality. That causes those with less self-control to act out, and ‘gay-bashing’ is occurring at a frightening pace. Any Google search about violence against LGBT will bring you face to face with horrifying statistics. In a two-minute search just now, I found an article by The National Geographic that says, in part:
The motivations behind attacks against LGBT people “have always been, and continue to be, [about] seemingly religious rhetoric,” says Kaila Story, a professor of women’s and gender studies at University of Louisville.
LGBT folks, especially those of color, have a disproportionately high victim rate of violent attacks, murder, and suicide. This number triples for transgendered men and women. One in four LGBT folks will deal with some form of violence in their lifetimes. Nephew, between me, Traf, your Aunt T-, Ba-, and Ja- (not to mention the other LGBT folks you know) which of us will be sacrificed on the altar of hate? Which ones of us will be brutalized, hospitalized, or buried due to “religious rhetoric” spread by your church and others like it, as the professor above calls it?
5) If you could change one thing about society in regards to perspectives or opinions on same-sex marriage, what would that be?
Same-sex marriage, just like any other marriage, is a social contract between two people and their government. It requires certain responsibilities, and gives certain rights that exist to protect one thing: family. When people wish to deny gay marriage, they are trying to leave certain families vulnerable.
The one thing I would change is the perspective that denying gay marriage will somehow sanctify heterosexual marriage. Your marriage is in no way threatened by my own.
Your sweet son and wife are in no danger because Traf and I are married. But our great-grandson would be DIRECTLY threatened by the reversal of our marriage, left vulnerable and unprotected by the laws of the land. He could be removed from us (the only safe place he’s ever known) and put in Foster Care. If religious conservatives have their way and vote in representatives who will strip our marital rights away, we will return to the days of living in the shadows as outlaws, existing at the forbearance of our ‘betters’, and with no legal recourse to right the wrongs and injustices done to LGBT folks and their families.
Is this over-dramatic rhetoric on my part? No Nephew, that’s the way it was only a few years back.
6) If you would have me relay one message or thought to my church on this topic, what would you have me say?
LGBT folks are just that, plain folks. We work, pay taxes, raise children, vote, and are productive citizens. What makes your spouse and children any more deserving of love and protection than mine?
7) Is there anything else you would like to add?
1 Corinthians 13:13
12Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is LOVE.
Love is love. Do not pervert it with religious bigotry, but respect Lord God in His wisdom. He made us, one and all, in His image, and He does not make mistakes.
ALSO – As to why we use LGBT as opposed to the original letter arrangement of GLBT:
Men have historically, and still do, take the reins of any group because of their superior physical strength, wealth, and power. So of course, when the original movement began gay men listed themselves first, lesbians second, and bi-sexuals third. Transgendered people weren’t even considered at the time, much less those who self-identify as queer, intersexed, asexual, and/or questioning (this explains the newer version of LGBT: LGBTQIA+).
In the 1980s, AIDS was known by the under-educated as The Gay Disease. Religious bigots declared it God’s punishment for being gay (which doesn’t take into consideration the fact that lesbians have the lowest rate of contagion, far fewer than heterosexuals).
Gay men infected with this plague were abandoned by their friends, lovers, families, and even hospitals turned them away leaving them to die miserable and alone. People were afraid to touch them, so no one held them or dried their tears as they struggled with their inevitable, and painful, deaths. No one bathed them when they were too weak, or brought food to nourish and comfort them. They were the lepers of modern times.
So their lesbian sisters stepped up. We took care of them as they died, replacing the people they’d loved and trusted to be there for them. We held them as they sobbed in despair, we combed their hair and bathed the sweat from their bodies. We brought food, comfort, and care. And when they died, we cried as we buried them.
I, personally, helped ease the way for three men who suffered needlessly due to bigotry and prejudice. Many people think we lesbians have nothing in common with our gay brothers, but they are wrong. We share our humanity.
In recognition of our loving support, the gay men who ran the rainbow coalition changed the order of the letters, surprising the hell out of us. The GLBT movement became the LGBT movement.
Nephew, I hope these answers will give you some idea of what it is like for LGBT folks living in America concerning same-sex marriage. Remember, we are as diverse as any other group, and these are my thoughts based on my reality. Others may have differing views based on their lives.
I wish you the best of luck with your sermon. Open your heart, eyes, and soul; God will do the rest.
3 thoughts on “I’ve Waited a Lifetime for this Interview – Finale”
I think”what great representaion” Genta for president!!! Very proud to call you sister
Thank you, thank you, thank you dear Aunt. Your responses were exactly the kind I had hoped (and expected) to receive from you: honest, transparent, poignant, and fearless. You have helped me tremendously in crafting my message in a way that, I hope, is fair in its representation of the LGBT perspective.
I will send you a link to the audio of my sermon when it is available online, probably Monday or Tuesday of next week. I will say several things with which I expect you to disagree — you and I have different worldviews that cause us to approach the issue from different ideological platforms. I very much hope (and shall strive) to represent these differences in a way that garners not hate or division, but mutual understanding and empathy. I will probably fail to do so perfectly — I hope you will have grace for me, and I welcome further dialogue between us, if that is something you desire.
Thank you again! I approach this message to my congregation with fear and trembling, knowing the potential for offense and division in my own family. However, the potential for reconciliation (or at least the beginning of a dialogue that might lead to that), I believe, outweighs the risks.
Your Loving Nephew,