Having spent my first 32 years in Texas, I had a distinct perspective of how the world worked. I’m 36 now. I’ve been living in California for a few years and people out here see things a little different, ok… a lot different.
I have always considered myself an open minded person. I’ll try most things once and I enjoy hearing opposing viewpoints. I appreciate intellectual debate and I’m fine with agreeing to disagree. That said, these last couple years have provided a mirror in which I’ve seen myself from a different perspective. I’ve been pretty close minded and I didn’t know it.
I recently visited Texas for a friend’s wedding. One of my friends heard I had moved to San Francisco. She looked at me with wide eyes and said “What about the gays?” Really, she wasn’t joking. I replied, “What about them?” She answered with some remark about how gross it would be to live amongst them.
Fast forward a couple months. Another friend posted a status on Facebook regarding Austin possibly legalizing gay marriage. His Facebook status said “…keep the lefties and freakin fags in California where they belong.”
I’ve never hated anyone for being different, but I did support a traditional conservative stance on gay marriage. I thought being gay was a phase that some people went through. I didn’t grow up with any gay friends, or if I did, I didn’t know it. I was ignorant because I wasn’t exposed to people much different than myself.
I appreciate moral integrity and I understood the desire to retain the sanctity of marriage as previously defined, though I no longer agree with it. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet all different kinds of people in San Francisco and I can no longer support a platform that believes certain types of people don’t deserve to be treated equal. I can’t believe that we, as a country, still struggle with this issue.
The beauty of this country is that you don’t have to agree with a specific lifestyle, but to deny people the same rights others have because of what they believe, who they love or what color skin they have is hateful.
I spent a good part of my young adult life studying the Bible and proclaiming Christianity. I met some of my best friends in church and I whole-heartedly support the message of love and reconciliation that is woven through the pages of the Bible, but I no longer take it as a literal document.
I have seen the church love on the needy and protect the innocent. I have personally helped the church build orphanages in the slums of Mexico and I have seen troubled teens transformed by the love that the church proclaims.
Now, I have also seen the church promote discrimination and turn a blind eye towards illegal activity. I have seen politics behind the altar and within the pews. I’m not perfect, and the church is made of imperfect people, but I’m finding it harder and harder to identify with a community that discourages challenging your beliefs and promotes close-mindedness. This makes me sad because the church has also taught me that above all else, loving on people around you is the most important thing you can do and I still believe that.
Cool story bro, now what?
I’m not sure. I had to write this because there are two distinct groups of people that see me in two very different lights, and that bothers me. I feel like I’m living a double life. I’m not saying that one is right and one is wrong. It’s complicated, but this is who I am and I had to share it.
If this angers or confuses you, ask me about it. I welcome the conversation.
I don’t have any agenda other than being true to myself, and I don’t feel like I have to apologize for that.
I’m still learning about who I am and I hope to never stop challenging my beliefs. I hope I never settle into circular belief systems that only reinforce the things I already support. I hope that sometime in the future I look back on this post with more enlightened eyes and a more open mind and realize that I’ve continued the journey of being true to myself, learning about others and loving them regardless.
I hope you’ll hold me to that.