When I was in college, I worked at record stores for minimum wage and free promo CDs. But the best part of working there were all the different kinds of people I got to work with and meet. At my first job, two of my managers were gay men, as were a handful of co-workers, and they introduced me to some of coolest music I’d never heard, things that existed in some other kind of universe that I wasn’t part of until I was ushered in. We were an eclectic melting pot of music lovers and listeners, though, and everyone had their expertise, whether it was lesser-known Broadway musicals, classic soul, Bjork’s b-sides or hip new indie rock. That’s what made it work so well — our different personalities and tastes, although it didn’t mean we were incompatible. On the contrary, we all got along fairly well like a functional family. I learned a lot more than just about music while working there.
That was 10 years ago and now I’m Facebook friends with some of my old-coworkers. I was taking stock of what acquaintances from high school, college and even family members had updated their photos to a variation of the pink and red equal signs, others, I’m sure didn’t weigh in at all. But yesterday, I saw my first anti-gay marriage post and it was from a woman I’d worked with at the record store. This is what she’d shared:
At first I wasn’t sure what I should say, but I felt like I should say something. This was our brief exchange:
I was curious how other people were dealing with similar friends or family that were posting public declarations of support for DOMA, Prop 8 and “traditional marriage,” and I was not shocked to hear most people say “DELETE!!!” I get it — why would you want to associate yourself with someone who doesn’t see you as an equal? My old coworker can like my non-threatening statuses or comment that she thinks I look pretty in photos all she wants, but she doesn’t support my basic right to be legally wed to my wife. Why should I allow her that access? I deleted someone in my extended family after she showed support for Chik-fil-A last year, but always wondered if that was beneficial to the cause.
I posed this question on Facebook, wondering how others were dealing with this inevitable issue, as the turning of pink and red during this highly political week has been one of the biggest show of support or lack thereof since the election, if not more so considering there are definitely Republicans who support gay marriage, too. If anything, this divisive HRC symbol has shed light on who among the people in our life (past or present) aren’t just friendly to our faces, but feel we are deserving of equality. It’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation with a peer, especially in professional situations.
The responses ranged from indeed deleting their homophobic contacts to engaging them in debates to those who say they don’t have anyone posting anything but support on their pages. Two comments that I really had to consider, though, were more along the lines of what I’d said to my old co-worker:
“Stay close to your friends-closer to your enemies. Don’t change you, just change the way you see them. Try not to show people the side they want to see, rather be true to the person you really are, regardless.”
“Not de-friending, peoples minds and hearts are changing so fast. Besides what would be the point in all these equality posts if they are just being shared to all your gay and straight allies?”
Now if someone is, as another commenter posted on the higher end “On a scale of 1-Fred Phelps,” than they are likely to be doing a lot more harm than good by being someone in your life. But if it’s someone like my old co-worker who appears to be a devout Christian who “still loves me” but doesn’t think I deserve marriage because it doesn’t align with her beliefs, than perhaps this is why it is more beneficial to me to stay in her social consciousness as a happily married (in some states) gay woman. If I’m only sharing my life with people in my own community (allies included), is that helping to change those minds and hearts that could still be changed?
We’re fighting to be respected and equal to those who see us as less than, and if using our social networks are going to help us in any way, it seems like it has to be in voicing our opinions without, as one of the commenters said, changing ourselves, and that would include who we include in our lives, even if its on an internet-only basis. The L.A. Times just posted a report showing that “14% of Americans say they have changed their minds about same-sex marriage. Roughly a third of them told pollsters it was because they know someone — a friend or family member or other acquaintance — who is gay.” Of course this isn’t true for everyone, as many people who oppose same-sex marriage would likely say they are not homophobic, just don’t believe we should be allowed the same rights they have. And if they don’t understand how those two things are mutually exclusive, perhaps you could explain it to them, even if it’s as passive as posting a story about it on your own Facebook and hoping they take the time to investigate it for themselves.
Chances are if you accepted someone as your friend on Facebook, you know them, at least a little bit, and there is something about them that you liked enough to allow them into your virtual life. This is what makes me think you don’t have a Fred Phelps-a-like, but instead, one of those hearts or minds that could quite possibly shift in time. And if they’re posting crosses with declarations of God’s idea of what marriage is and should remain to be, they are likely expecting their LGBT and LGBT-friendly friends to shut them out, giving them some kind of martyr feeling, like they are being hated upon for their steadfast beliefs.
This could be where the idea of “killing with kindness” comes in handy, even though I know you’re mad. I am mad, and sad, and let down. When you find out someone you were friends with and saw (or still see) on a daily basis, shared laughs with and generally let into your life thinks you are a second class citizen, it hurts. But we probably won’t get anywhere by trying to create an us vs. them scenario like they are attempting to do in the name of the Bible. At least, I’d like to think people who consider themselves religious in some way are trying to emulate the love and compassion of their higher power. Could this lead to a spiritual awakening of their re-reading passages that are supposedly anti-gay and questioning their validity? Or realizing that if they want to live by the Bible’s rules on marriage, then they also have to accept some of the other ones such as “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives,” so divorce is not an option, or “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife,” so you better be a virgin and you are going to be paid for, sometimes for a price of “fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.”
I don’t know anyone that lives as Biblically as they profess that they do, because we don’t live in that kind of world. Instead they cherrypick from the “laws of God” they cite as the ones they abide by. That to me signals that ideas, to them, are subject to change, should they be affected by an adulterous husband or wife or simply decide they are worth more than those 15 shekels.
This all being said, if you do have someone that is very bigoted and filled with hate, posting things that degrade and illustrating that person’s true mean-spirited colors, you have my unasked for permission to delete them from your life and never look back. Good riddance.