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Pride Month Post VI: Make It Personal.

June 28, 2011

Several years back, I had a conversation with a colleague and friend, let’s name him Jim, regarding gay marriage.

His POV? Civil unions, fine. But marriage is for straight people. Cuz that’s how it’s always been, of course. And maybe some Bible stuff too. Let the gays find their own word for it. Hell, we make up words all the time, so, no worries, right? And, bee tee dubs, he has nothing against the gays. In case you were wondering.

This conversation happened literally months after my first lil same-sex encounter (yes, let’s call it that). Although I’d argued about gay rights with people before, this time? I was shaking by the end of it (while still trying to force outward composure so he wouldn’t wonder what the hell was wrong with me… oh yeah, I hadn’t come out, to anyone, just yet, so not really a conversation I was ready to have.)

Fast forward to, oh, this past winter.

You know, as an aside, I probably shouldn’t be on things like facebook. I don’t think I take them seriously enough. I tend to believe people don’t give too much of a shit what I’m up to. They have their own lives. In, you know, real life. That isn’t on the interwebs. Says the girl with an anonymous blog, fake twitter page, and two (count ’em) FB accounts.

I also tend to forget I am FB friends with… certain people. Hence my near-panic recently when I posted on a then-upcoming burlesque show on my regular FB page, not my burlesque one. And, two hours later, remembered that I have a burlesque page for. a. reason.

But I digress. Needless to say, I am FB friends with my previously-mentioned colleague/friend, Jim-bo. But. I’ve never come out to him. Frankly, I didn’t find it something that needed to be done, as I don’t ask him about his personal life. I don’t expect my straight friends to explain to anyone about their sex lives and intimate relationships, so why should I?

Anyhoo. Where was I? Oh yes. It’s winter (oh thank god it’s not really). I found this freakin awesome lil vid (“What Bisexuality is Not”)  done by a woman named Amanda of  “She’s So Mickey” (you can follow her on twitter or check out her blog on youtube).  As I sometimes do with awesome things I find, I plastered it right on up there on my FB page, with the headline: “I love this today.” Or something along those lines.

Couple hours later. Jim stops by my office.

“Hey [Nik]. I just wanted to come by and tell you… You know, I don’t know about you or your preferences. That’s your personal life, that’s fine. But… I just wanted you to know, I just sent out letters supporting Gay-Straight Alliances in high schools out in [a state] and in favor of marriage equality in [his state].

I wanted to do that… I did that for you.”

I think it’s often we forget the most effective way to get through to someone. It’s not through a better argument, better evidence, more scientific proof. It’s not by de-bunking their views on a religious text, or what our forefathers thought about, or where church ends and school begins.

It’s not in figuring out to prove you’re right and they’re wrong. That isn’t what wins people over, most of the time (and, let’s be honest, sometimes people aren’t going to listen to you spewing all that rational thought).

What makes the strongest arguments, what speaks the loudest with words that are the most difficult to ignore, is when you make it personal.

We do well to remember that.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2011 1:46 pm

    A personal impact is the strongest one. I suppose that is why first face to face impressions and human relations are so important even in this virtual age.

    Ah the wonders of FB… have to say I try to keep my FB manageable – as in not adding everyone as I do come out with a whole lot of nonsense and I do not want to feel censored.

    • June 28, 2011 4:11 pm

      Yep – even, and maybe even more importantly, in this virtual age. It’s amazing what knowing one person can do, in the face of all rational argument.

      I don’t add everyone either, and I definitely do my best to avoid adding some but… sometimes? People request you and it’s really fucking hard not offending them and saying no. Ah, the boundaries blurred in our lives by social media… maybe there’s a whole other post, just in that…

  2. June 28, 2011 4:36 pm

    It’s so true. Sadly, logic and rationale does not always work with people. It’s when they see it through a personal perspective, even if indirectly through a friend or colleague.

    Unfortunately, I do have friends who are religious and use that as their reason not to support gay marriage. A close friend of mine is very close with her gay cousin and has two close gay friends. She loves them dearly and accepts their lifestyle, yet she will not support gay marriage because of her religion. Logically, this does not make sense because she admits to being greedy, gluttonous and prideful (deadly sins, no?). It seems to some, we can pick and choose which are the *really bad* sins and which we let slide. People denounce homosexuality as one of those “really bad” sins – worse than the “deadly” sins – because they might be greedy, gluttonous or prideful, but they are not gay themselves. Again, logic does not prevail.

    I’m glad your friend came around. Perhaps if more people were open about it, those around them will be more accepting. But I realize it’s not easy, because many people are judgmental bastards.

    • June 29, 2011 2:16 pm

      The religion argument really gets me. Does she use birth control? Does she eat shellfish? Does she think it would be ok if her dad sold her into slavery? She should pay attention to her Bible. *Tsk tsk* selective reading.

      But, yes, let’s pick pick pick at very specific instances in the bible and decide THAT is the end-all argument on marriage equality. But ignore all that other stuff that may even more blatantly tell me I shouldn’t be doing half the things I do.

      I think the key IS in being more open, not just in coming out of the closet, but on being vocal allies and advocates if you’re straight. Regardless of changing certain people, collectively we make the world more inclusive, and younger generations ARE watching us.

      Unfortunately, of course, a lot of people ARE judgmental bastards.

  3. Fantasminha permalink
    June 29, 2011 2:19 pm

    I could write a whole novel about this post. I’ll try not to!

    @singlegirlie: there goes that dreaded word “accept” again. It’s like a sucker punch.

    It seems odd to me that someone would do this for you personally but would not do the same for someone he does not know. It seems to me that it’s a matter of human rights, whether you personally know the person whose rights are being violated or not. It happens that I do know a few gay men but they have no interest in marriage, so they are not bothered one way or another. But I feel like it should be their right IF THEY WANTED to. That they have no interest is of no interest to me. 🙂 I go march for everyones rights anyway. It’s a matter of principle.

    Unfortunately it’s impossible to discuss this issue without bringing up religion. Anyone who knows me for 15 seconds knows how I hate it but it’s true. I am trying to really understand the different between a civil union and marriage. My husband and I got married by a judge in a court in Texas. I specifically told him not to mention the G-word or “obey.” Does that mean that we have a “civil union” and not a marriage?

    I think that there will be peace in the middle east before the LGBTQ+ get the church to open their minds. I am not against spirituality, but the rituals and dogmas created by organized religion baffle me. It seems to me that they are created by greedy people to get into the pockets of others and to ensure that they continue this, they must keep the minds controlling those pockets very, very small indeed. If the parishioners start to ask questions about this one issue, they could potentially start to think logically about other issues and the result would be (religious) anarchy! They have a vested interest to continue to villify some while letting others (like child abusing priests) walk free. Unfortunately religion is purposefully set up to be an exclusive club rather than an inclusive one and probably no one reading this will have any suggestions how to resolve that one. 😦

    I’m usually more positive than this, but I guess it’s been a bad week…

    • June 29, 2011 8:43 pm

      Hey lady! Feel free to leave a semi-novel any time!

      Yes – the dreaded “accept”. Ugh.

      Agreed – people should be able to connect on this issue and other simply via empathy and wanting equal rights for all. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. However. I do think making it personal is a way to get other to wake the fuck up and realize what it is they’re doing. It’s easy for them to distance themselves from their actions against another person that is *over there* and *different* – whether they want to admit that or not. When you make them realize that they’re directly affect YOU, someone they know and love, the point FINALLY hits home. It’s like lifting the stupidity veil.

      As for civil unions: IMHO, the government should be in the business of civil unions for everyone and not marriages. Period. “Marriage” should be the religious term for it, or whatever, should you chose that. But my views on separation of church and state dictate that the government should never marry anyone – it should only civil unionize you, and your rights/benefits should be based on that (of course, don’t even get me started on how our government favors the traditionally-unioned among us over those that aren’t, whether that be because we choose to be single, or poly, or whatever)

      But. That’s not how things work. Plus, the way it is now, fighting for marriage equality is a principle thing. It’s like “separate but equal” – we’re not “right” or “good enough” for marriage, but here, be civil unioned instead. Furthermore, there are a shit-ton of religious-y (or whatever) gay people for whom getting married (that term) is important. Period.

      As for religion itself, honey you is preachin to the choir. Organized religion often makes me throw up a lil in my mouth. It’s not just the homophobia, it’s the misogyny too. And the us-not-them stuff against other religions. It’s the inability to understand how similar they are, while nitpicking and hurting each other over minute differences (e.g. hello, dumbass, “Allah” is “God” in another language).

      And what do we do about it? We keep talking. And discussing. And challenging. And thinking. And marching. And supporting. And teaching. And hoping.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!!

  4. July 7, 2011 4:50 am

    Wow, is accept a bad word? Am I offending unknowingly as a silly straight girl? If so, I apologize. I do not mean to use “accept” as in accepting something that is in some way bad. I mean accept as in accepting lifestyles, opinions, or behaviors that are different from yours. I’m not just talking about gay.

    I understand why it might sound offensive – I mean, I’d never say, “I accept my friend for being black.” And actually, I wouldn’t say, “I accept my friend for being gay” either. My best friend is gay and “accept” isn’t really a word I’d use to describe how I feel about his sexuality.

    But I believe there are people who do need to accept, or understand, or realize, or have a light bulb moment, that there are others who are very different than they are, and that’s okay.

    • July 7, 2011 8:54 am

      Ha! Don’t worry, I don’t exactly find “accept” insulting – and I realize most people who use it mean it the way you did. I used to use it that way, too, until it was directed at me – and then I realize that I, personally, didn’t like it. I never thought about it being harmful, until it was about my life, and then I found it harmful.

      I think your comment speaks to why: We use “accept” all the time when discussing people who are different, but especially when discussing LGBTQ+ stuff. The thing is, however, the only other time I really use “accept” is when I need to accept something bad in order to get something good. SO… there is that underlying connotation in it that rubs me the wrong way. I am sure that many LGBTQ+ etc people would roll their eyes at me and tell me I’m being sensitive but…

      I still don’t like it. A fellow reader offered up “appreciate” instead of “accept.” I like that much better.

      Anyways – ask your friends what they think – this is just my opinion.

      And, yeah, there are a bunch of people that need that light-bulb moment. Maybe it’s more about *them* accepting that they have these prejudices for no good reason – and they need to get the F over them


  1. Rainbow Flags! Pride Month Post II: I’m comin’ out… « Women Are From Mars

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