Last night my niece sent me a chat message on Facebook, asking how she should respond to a schoolmate who is opposed to gay marriage based on..get this..the belief that allowing gay people to get married poses a threat to the world’s population. I’m currently on painkillers for a kidney stone the size of a buick, so my response was less than coherent. This is the letter I’m sending her today – before I take my Norco – to expand upon my sad efforts last night:
I want to take some time to respond properly to your question, now that I’m wide awake. But before I do, I just want to let you know that you are one of the brightest, sweetest, prettiest – and even more importantly – compassionate human beings I’ve ever known.
It saddens me that your incredibly evolved spiritual and humanistic views put you in direct conflict with many of your schoolmates who have been taught by their parents that being gay is either a sin, an illness or some form of depravity. When you listen to these other kids blathering on with their incredibly stupid viewpoints (like the one you asked me about, regarding the threat to ‘future population’ if gays are allowed to marry), I need you to remember this:
Do you see those signs with the words “nigger” and “God demands Segregation?” Those signs were created by the past’s equivalent of your misguided friends. Do you see those white people standing up for the civil rights of the black people? That’s the past’s equivalent of YOU. What your ignorant friends are doing is called “taking a stand on the wrong side of history.” You, on the other hand, are firmly planted on the right side. And the reason it’s the right side is not just because you’re on MY side, it’s because you have facts, research, empathy and compassion to back your position up.
What your friend said was so completely devoid of critical thought that I’m almost embarrassed at having to respond to it, but I will. Allowing gay people to marry will have no impact on the future population of the world. Allowing gays to marry does not make more gay people. It just allows those of us who are gay and in committed relationships – like your Uncle Patrick and me – to celebrate our commitment to each other (it will also allow us a whole bunch of rights and financial benefits gay couples have long been denied, but we’ll save that for another message.) People who are not gay won’t suddenly TURN gay just so they can get gay-married. The idea itself is, well, idiotic. The very fact that your friend is concerned with population dwindling in a world that’s already severely overcrowded shows that she either has no grasp on reality, or perhaps was dropped on her head by her (straight) parents when she was but a wee homophobe.
Arguing with these kinds of people serves no purpose. It certainly feels good at times, for me anyway, to call neanderthals on their idiocy. It rarely changes their minds, however. It just makes them take a firmer stand and cling even more tightly to their antiquated and indefensible beliefs. You can point out facts all day long, quote study after study that shows that children of gay parents are just as well-adjusted – sometimes even more so – than those with straight parents (though let’s be clear, ANYONE can be a terrible parent or enter into an ill-advised union…being an idiot or an a-hole is not the exclusive bailiwick of the heterosexual, I’ve known MANY gay people I wouldn’t trust to care for a chia pet). You can go on and on and on with facts, and while some might be receptive to them, many will just ignore them. Because they’re not dealing with facts, they’re dealing with feelings. And feelings, fortunately, are not even distantly related to facts.
It can be frustrating to know that you are on the side of right when you are surrounded by ignorance and bigotry. But take some satisfaction that you stand not only on the right side of history, but with some amazing people who were persecuted for beliefs that challenged the status quo: Martin Luther King, JFK and perhaps the most radical progressive liberal of all time, Jesus Christ. To name just a few.
Do me a favor: write about the experiences you’re having right now. Write about the stupid things people are saying, and how you feel about it. I want you to be able to look back in, say, twenty years and see how absolutely right you are, and how absolutely disgusting the viewpoints of your contemporaries are. When I was very little, black people could not marry white people. And that was just fine with a whole lot of the US population. Now, however, only the most rabid of racists still espouse that view. I guarantee you that in 20 years, very little will have changed: the fabric of society will not have been torn apart by gay marriage, Heterosexual marriage will still exist, and the world will not have been destroyed by some cataclysmic hellfire act of God (well, those things might happen, but not because of gay marriage. I think global warming would be a more likely culprit. Which is semi-ironic because that’s another thing many stupid people don’t believe in.) The one thing that will be different is that two men or two women getting married will just seem, well, normal. In twenty years, mark my word, the country will be looking back at today and saying, “I can’t believe gay people weren’t allowed to get married!”
I guess that’s all I have to say, except hang tight and just try to surf right over the stupidity, because wading through it can get EXHAUSTING. Trust me. Stay on the right side of history – with this issue and ANY other civil rights issue – and you’ll be just fine. It’s not always the safest place to be, but it’s where most of the good people hang out. And the good people always prevail..though it can take a lot of work, a lot of fighting, and a lot of sticking to your guns even when it seems hopeless. So glad you’re fighting alongside us. To quote your sign-off last night on our FB chat, “I’ve got your back, Jack.”
PS: Oh, and the next time one of your schoolmates tells you something as (I’m trying really hard not to use the ‘R’ word) dumb as “gay marriage will destroy the population,” I want you to recite…word for word…the following: