Friday, December 12, 2008

I love you; you're wrong.

John Corvino has an awesome column up over at 365Gay about maintaining close friendships with people who hold anti-gay views. He hits on something really important that I wish gay rights activists would talk about more:

"Do I worry that our mutual graciousness makes it too easy for him to feel “open-minded” and “tolerant” while maintaining an anti-gay stance? I would, were it not for the fact that I remind him regularly of how wrong and hurtful that stance is. In my view, such reminders have more weight coming from a sincere friend than a hostile enemy."

I think we all either have or have had someone like that in our lives. A member of my immediate family is a conservative Republican, and while he loves and supports me and asks me regularly if I'm dating anyone, he tends to parrot conservative talking points--like the one about how all the Prop 8 protesters are violent, guilty of infringing upon people's religious rights, etc.

It hurts me pretty deeply to hear him say that. I mean, I went to both the Mormon Temple march and the City Hall rally immediately following Election Day, and I did not see a single violent or even pre-violent incident. I did not see anyone disrupting anyone else's right to practice the religion of their choosing. Were some of our signs snarky and pissed off? Yeah, but only because we were pissed off. You'd be pissed off too if, like my friend M-- and his husband J--, you suddenly didn't know if you were married anymore.

But I think it really hurts because it means that he's not as on-board with the movement as I wish he'd be. I challenge him on these things regularly, but usually not on emotional terms. I can show him facts--X number of violent incidents reported versus Y numbers of protesters--but it's harder to open up and say, look, it hurts me that you don't believe that we're better than that.

The gay rights movement, and the marriage movement in particular, will not succeed unless we start making our case emotionally to people like him. We have to open ourselves up, and risk looking silly, and lay our hearts on the line. Isn't that what marriage is all about?

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