I don’t remember how the conversation started, exactly. It had something to do with the picture I chose to use in this post, although I’m not sure how the road turned from there to here.
We were lying beside each other in the darkness, a momentary silence resting between us that seemed to be weighted with doubts and assumptions and questions never asked because you thought you knew the answers.
“Did you vote against Proposition 2?”
“What? Of course not,” he assured me. And then, as if he needed to make clear his motives, “I believe in the separation of church and state.”
(Edited: he voted AGAINST Prop 2. This was a typo on my part. He voted to NOT take away the rights of gay couples.)
I sensed there was something more to that. Some ugly chasm between us that was just now flirting beneath the surface of our dialogue. “And?”
“And what? It’s none of my business what people do. It’s not my job to judge.” I felt him straining to escape the conversation.
“What is there to judge?”
“Britt, you know what I mean. Let’s not talk about it. It doesn’t matter if I think it’s wrong. I do things all the time that are wrong.”
“You think it’s wrong to be gay?”
“It’s not what I believe. You think Jews are wrong, right? I mean you don’t judge, but you think what they believe is wrong because of what you believe.”
“Actually, no. I don’t. It’s not what I believe, but I believe that fully aware that I could be very, very wrong. And who the hell am I to say what’s right or wrong? But that’s not the point. You can’t compare choosing a religious doctrine to being gay. You make a choice about what you believe.”
The conclusion to that sentence hung between us in the night, taunting us to come closer and confirm its existence. I sat up and leaned closer to it to get a better look. He got up and walked into the bathroom in an attempt to make it go away. I called into the darkness after him.
“Jared, do you think being gay is a choice?”
“Yeah, so what if I do?”
My faith in our sameness unraveled with the ferocity of a broken spring. The oxygen ran from my body as quickly as my confidence. I couldn’t understand how this could be.
He couldn’t understand why it mattered. Why I was so upset.
I made the comparison to racism.
His honor and sense of justice flared at the implication.
I tried not to cry.
He struggled to comprehend why I would be so angry and how I could paint him in such an ugly light.
I forced myself to breathe normally and lower my voice. I stopped using words like angry and focused on disappointed and confused. I reminded him that I loved him and we settled back into the pillows together.
We let the conversation dropped and pretended to sleep.
How can this be? How can my husband, the man I know and love, think being gay is some kind of sin? A bad choice that people make?
I was reminded of the people I grew up with who lived with raging prejudices against blacks. Good people. Kind people. Loving people who were crippled with bigotry simply because they didn’t know any better.
It had never occurred to me that my husband could be suffering from the same kind of ignorance.
Again, the answers danced just out of reach in the darkness. I knew where it was coming from, and I knew that acknowledging it would mean putting words to my own conflicts.
He’s trying to be a good Christian. You know what those passages in the Bible say.
I know. I know. But I remember Gary struggling to come out.. I’ve talked to Paul. I know Sharon and Deborah and – no. This is not something they “chose” anymore than I “chose” to be straight. And they are not wrong. Who they are is not wrong.
But the Bible says…
Then the Bible is wrong!
My heart stopped.
Although I only said the words inside the solitude of my own head, they rang so loudly that I could have sworn they echoed around the room. I braced myself. For what, I’m not sure. But nothing came. Nothing except a peace, a quiet relief that I had faced it and owned it and would no longer have to dance along the outskirts of it anymore.
Being gay is not a choice, no matter what the Bible said. I was prepared to deal with what that said about my faith.
I spoke with my mom the next morning and confessed my revelation to her. She comforted me with another simple truth. “I read the letters in red.” And that helped.
And still… my husband. My husband who would practice tolerance but still carried the philosophy of loving “in spite of”. A man who would practice his own brand of kindness by offering to simply look away.
And I realized that that is where our society is failing. This is why we have Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This is why we “leave it up to the states”. Our decency tells us not to condemn, the basic goodness in us ensures that we won’t stand for violence. But our inability to wholly accept leaves us with the 21st century version of Jim Crow Laws.
Separate, but not equal.
Not openly condemning, but quietly looking away.
I guess, at least, I know now where to start.
Today’s contribution to The Guest Post Challenge can be found here: Why Angie & I Are Better Than You (A Whole Lotta Nothing)
I’m also talking about how to prevent daycare drop off meltdowns at Work It, Mom!
AND, Clearly, You’re Retarded is LIVE on TalkShoe at 9pm EST tonight discussing Internet Addiction. How much is too much? Click here for show details.
OK. That’s it. Feel free to comment about homosexuality not being a choice…. now.