Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
This letter I wrote to a straight Friend after she yelled at another Friend last night on the phone. We were phone banking people who have made a commitment to fight the constitutional amendment on marriage in Minnesota.
Dear Straight Friend,
I’m sorry getting a phone call from another Friend, who wanted to talk with you about having conversations with your friends and neighbors about the Minnesota constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between only one man and one woman, was so annoying and difficult you had to yell at her to express your anger.
I’d suggest you try living next to, or getting served in a restaurant by, or waiting at a bus stop with people who think you don’t deserve God’s love or blessing and would like to invalidate your relationship with your husband by making your marriage unconstitutional in our state.
Because that’s what I’m doing, as a lesbian, by having conversations with people. Real and deep conversations. Not just how you’re voting but why. It hurts me deeply every time a neighbor tells me they think that God has defined marriage as being only between one man and one woman. I sting when a store clerk says that she’s doing what her priest tells her to do. My heart breaks when the nurse looking for a vein in my arm tells me he knows that God intends marriage to be only between men and women. Every day.
I’m not a masochist. I have conversations because research has said that conversations with people they know is the only way to change someone’s mind and heart about marriage equality. And because I have seen this work first-hand.
I was hospitalized this past spring and while a man was poking around my arm, looking for a good vein for an IV, we talked about marriage. He cited the Bible. I nodded and listened. I asked him what marriage meant to him. I nodded and listened. Liz asked him if he knew any gay or lesbian people and he said yes, in Texas, where he went to school. He said it wasn’t fair heterosexual couples who aren’t married don’t get the same privileges and benefits of marriage. I nodded and listened. When he finally started asking me questions, I told him a story about going from Canada into the US with Liz, my brother, sister-in-law and niece, Madison.
She’s eleven now, but last year, when we five went to Alaska, we traveled through Vancouver. As we went through customs, the three of them got to go through together as a family. But Liz and I had to go through separately. I could see the confusion in Madison’s eyes. She looked at us and looked at her parents and looked at us again. And I didn’t know what to say to this girl who has only ever known Liz and I as her married Aunties.
As I told this story in the hospital, I had tears in my eyes. Our conversation ended, and we encouraged him to talk to his queer friends in Texas.
The next morning, as I’m packing up my things and waiting for Liz to pick me up, the man returns to my room. He said, “I couldn’t sleep last night. I guess us straight people don’t know what you all go through. I’m going to have to reconsider my position. Thank you for sharing your story with me.”
Every day I hear another story about yet another voter moved by these conversations through phone banks and through personal connections.
I understand that your energy is very low. That you are doing a lot of work on many different things that you care about, and you don’t have time or energy to talk with people about the commitment you made several months ago at the Conversations Training you attended.
My energy is low too. My soul hurts. There are only 46 days until election day. I’m spending all my free time and energy working to defeat the marriage and Voter ID amendments because I don't want to wake up on November 7th thinking I could have done more. And there are days when I hide from it all as well, days when I can’t take one more request to do another thing.
But please, please don’t yell at people who do have the energy to do the work you can’t or won’t.
And please, wear thy straight privilege as long as thy canst.