For many years, I didn’t declare myself a member of a political party. This may come as a shock to some who are certain I am a radical feminist coming to get their guns, but I had commitment issues. I was, in the musical stylings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, In-DEE-pen-dent.
Since North Carolina doesn’t have open primaries and I very much wanted to vote against the noxious anti-gay marriage Amendment 1 last May, I finally had to fess up: I’m a Democrat. Turns out, the only Republican I’d ever voted for anyway was Rudy Giuliani.
I almost never post about politics on Facebook, because seriously? You are either high-fiving your friends who agree with you or pissing off your family members who don’t. It’s not like thoughtful, rational dialogue ever ensues. “Oh, you believe that Obama is a Muslim? Did you know George Bush is Hitler? Let’s compare recent academic studies over coffee.”
There’s one exception to my no-politics rule: gay rights. This issue, to me, isn’t political at all. It’s an issue of civil rights – of human rights – as all issues of bigotry are. I’ve blogged about it here and here.
So I didn’t hesitate to share my friend Bill Dameron’s Huffington Post piece the other day on Facebook: “Dear Straight Friend: Facebook Ground Rules From Your Gay Friend.”
The piece hit me so viscerally – this is what it is like to be a gay man in a loving marriage and to have your friends and family support politicians and restaurant owners who are vehemently opposed to your rights. Who are proud to discriminate against you, to foment hate against you, to marginalize you, to threaten you, to call you a sinner or a faggot. Who are scared of you and afraid you will somehow turn their kids gay with your “lifestyle” and “agenda.” Who will flaunt their decision to eat waffle fries at Chick-fil-A in the name of free speech, while disavowing your right merely to live and love without interference.
For Bill, and for so many in the LGBT community, their very personal decisions to live authentically have become a political act.
Once I shared Bill’s post, the people who I know support gay rights “liked” and commented, as expected. But then I got a backlash. I received several private messages from conservative friends who felt the post went too far – that they were being called “spineless jellyfish” merely for supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket; that they had to tiptoe around their friends so as not to be thought politically incorrect for their views; that the election was about so much more than marriage equality; that they were offended by the article.
I thought about how to respond. I hate the way argument has replaced discussion; the way the election year has been commandeered by slick ads and corporate money and people shouting at each other. So I wanted to respond calmly, to find a compromise, maybe even to say that I was sorry for something. I mean, I was raised Catholic.
But the truth of it is, I’m not sorry if my sharing Bill’s article offended you, because Bill and his husband are offended, hated, and feared by people every single day simply for who they are. The human rights of my gay and lesbian friends, family members, students, colleagues, and clients are something I will NEVER keep quiet about.
I know there are lots of other issues at stake in this election. I can evaluate different sides to solving economic, educational, and health care problems. I can make rational decisions and have logical discussions about taxes, immigration, or foreign policy.
I can’t do that with gay rights. There are no sides. There is a right and there is a wrong and I’m unapologetic about that. I get a sick-to-my-stomach feeling when I see what my gay friends and family members endure daily just to live their lives. I will NEVER stop fighting for equality.
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