The other night I accidentally got into a conversation about the gays.
Does that ever happen to you? Usually I'm pretty intentional about getting all deep with people about any subject, especially when it's about stuff that I'm mainly 100% sure I'm right about and if anyone argues with me I get REAL nasty.
But it wasn't like that. The conversation took place between me and two people from an older generation than I - they're both a little older than my parents. They're also humans that I respect to the millionth degree, so before we go further you should know that this isn't a case of me rolling my eyes at ignorant rednecks, though that happens a lot.
Instead, what happened was that the topic of the music video for Take Me to Church, aka My New Favorite Song, came up, and if you've seen it you know that there is a gay couple depicted in it and one of them is killed Klan-style and it's awful and beautiful and hard to watch and important and also THE SONG IS JUST GREAT.
But one of the two that I was with said "did I just see two guys kissing?"
It honestly didn't even occur to me to notice. It was just...people kissing.
The conversation moved in that direction, them agreeing that they think, if nothing else, that being gay seems strange. They weren't being hateful, and we didn't get into religious beliefs (the conversation might have taken a different turn, but I really don't know), it was just...a difference. We discussed how it IS luckily becoming different for lots of people in my generation, that love is love and we do KNOW that being gay isn't a lifestyle choice, but that those scientific facts (yes, it's not an opinion that you are born who you are) are still not accepted by lots of people, mainly in older generations.
One of them at one point said "no, but it's a thing where people who are abused then turn gay because they don't want to be with the type of person who abused them anymore."
This is where we get back to how much I love an respect this person. I need to be honest when I say that I've never heard that particular theory of gay, but a quick Google tells me that it's a thing. If it had been anyone else, I'd have likely said "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO YOURSELF RIGHT NOW?"
But I didn't. For maybe the first time ever. Am I maturing? Probably not. But I let the words sink in, hard as they were to hear. My chest and neck probably got splotchy and my heart rate noticeably increased. The thing is, it's hard for me to hear people that I really respect repeat things that they've heard. This person is not stupid, or hateful, or ignorant. Not by a long shot. They are simply a part of a generation that believes this sort of thing, and longstanding beliefs are hard to get rid of. NOW, the particular theory is of course a little bit silly, because LOTS of women who have been abused sexually by men go on to marry men happily. We know this to be true, but somehow can't justify the same reasoning for gay and lesbian survivors of sexual abuse: no matter who abuses us, we still go on to love and marry the people that we are going to love and marry. The theory is kind of like homophobia-lite - they aren't saying that it's grody and wrong, they're just not comfortable saying "people are just like this, no matter what happened to them in their past, the same as that some people are straight."
I thinking some more about this "abused victims turn gay" thing, I think it's something that really nice yet maybe really religious people think. Religious people, for better or for worse, rely on their churches to help them sort out matters that are difficult. We have rules, customs, traditions, and the church will generally take some kind of stance on tough things as they arise in society. So imagine if, in this age of new states allowing gay marriage almost every day (!), you find yourself a part of a church that hasn't said one way or another what it feels on the topic, and you've been taught all your life that being gay is a sin, but somehow that is starting to feel confusing, and so you find theories like this one that justifies the action in somehow a more loving way - giving an excuse for a behavior that you can't quite come out and say you agree with.
It's sad, but I don't think it comes from hate. I KNOW it doesn't from these two.
So, for once in my short hostile sarcastic life I just listened. I did ask for an example of the "turning gay after abuse" theory, and there wasn't one, but that's ok - that's kind of the point. I do still think (as do scientists) that it is 100% normal to be gay, not a lifestyle choice AT ALL, and if that is true then gay couples should be afforded every single liberty that I am. I also think that there is a relative large portion of the population that simply doesn't know how to handle this new territory. They know what they grew up hearing, they know what they are hearing now, and those two things conflict. And, if they don't end up having a kid or coworker or bestie who is gay, do they really care all that much? Life is busy, and it may never occur to them to take the time to reconcile the old with the new, because it IS complicated for them and I think that should be respected.
I also think that people who are hateful are assholes, and this isn't about them. This is about tolerance for people who are loving and kind, even if they don't quite get it.
There is a gap: it can be generational, it can be cultural, it can be religious. But in the same way that some of us are just BEGGING for tolerance and love and light and sunshine, I think it's appropriate and necessary to give it right back to the people that are willing to listen to us, even if they're not exactly on the same page with us yet.