Fact: I'm a Recovering Bigot, or an ex-bigot if you will.
I used to be a real meany-head.
You would never guess it looking at me, now wouldja?
I normally stay away from the specifics of any religion, but sometimes policies and doctrine inevitably overlap. Especially when it comes to LBGTQP rights, race/minority discrimination, and family planning. The details of the culture I was raised in is irrelevant seeing as many many many religions share the same traditional bigoted views and practices. Because of these beliefs founded around a historical figure before the middle ages we have things like pro-life vs pro-choice, the civil rights movement, "novelty" same sex marriages, and the word "feminism"; among a million other things of course. I DO have a clear understanding that not all Christians believe that blacks have dark skin because they weren't valiant enough, gay is a choice, science doesn't mean anything, and women are merely helpers to men but the sad reality is that the majority does. And good fucking god I was raised as part of that blasted majority. It's been an interesting journey, this path to believing in equal rights and acceptance of diverse people. Fasten your seat belts kiddos, it's a bumpy ride.
From a political view, it was gay acceptance that started the ball rolling. I attended a religious university for several years and there I met Keith*. Keith was a "devilishly" handsome, artistic, musical, snarky, creative genius majoring in animation/design. And he was also totally gay. This isn't a subject of interest to us now, but then it was the most defining factor. Gender issues aside, we has SO much fun together... making fire hydrant tape sculptures and then having the police called on us, rubbing paint on our faces and rolling them on paper, covering my entire wall with murals, writing music together, star watching, cooking fancy meals, staying out past curfew, and other euphoric activities. But that could only happen when he wasn't suicidal due to depression. Going to church was a struggle for him and seeing as he was described as an abhorrent sinner that was to be despised by all sitting around him, well... it was understandable. The kicker was having to be silent about your preference, because if anyone found out, Keith would be expelled from school indefinitely. It became our not so little secret, and we vowed to guard it with our lives. I guess I was always meant to be a boat rocker, but even still, whether I liked it or not my core was founded on discrimination. Blech.
I remember very clearly going over to Keith's apartment and sitting on his bed (TOTALLY against the rules) with another guy friend and watching "Dancer in the Dark". Somewhere in the middle of the movie, I recall looking over at Keith and said guy friend and through the darkness of the room I could see them holding hands. This was just too much for my godly self and I silently but disdainfully stalked out of the apartment. He apologized later for making me uncomfortable, but the fact that I felt like he owed me an "I'm sorry" makes me regretful even today. He was a marvelous human being but my seperatism hindered my ability to recognize this fully. Ultimately, it was his emotional torture caused by unjust hatred that caused me to question what I was taught my whole life, and thus began my slippery slope down to what they call hell:)
Fact: reserving your place in hell is SO fulfilling.
Of course, this is only one blip in a life of pitying and passing judgement on everyone who did not look or act like me and my community. That is what I was taught, that is what I taught others, and that is how I lived. I am most certainly not proud of this; it's unfortunate that I didn't know any different.
Keith now lives in alt friendly Seattle with his boyfriend and has the ability to live whatever life he wants. I now live in Tucson with my boyfriend and I have the ability to live whatever life I want. I've chosen a life that centers around making the world a safer place for "sexual deviants", "feminists", "immigrants", "fags", "black folk", "fatties", "sluts", "beaners", "homeless", "retards", "crazies" and all other groups that are slandered, hated, shamed, oppressed, and feared.
I often wonder what I would be like today if I was raised without a religious construct wherein morals and ethics were synonymous. If I wasn't given a strict scale to rate others on. Would I be apathetic towards change? Would I be as dedicated to equality? I dunno. What I do know is that I was reared in a culture that mirrors our society to the extreme and has (interestingly enough) generated a well of passion, motivation, determination, tenacity, and courage inside of me that has and will change others lives. Our pasts may always be a part of us, but I have broken up with bigotry all together. It wasn't me, it was It. I no longer discriminate against skin colors, brain functions, residences, jobs, weight, hair color, sexual preference, clothing, or opportunity. No one is less important, nor more important because we are all. Fucking. Humans. I want the right to chose who I love, who I want to be in office, what medicine I want to take, what happens to my body, what school I go to, what street I walk down without fear, what wage I earn, and the option to change my mind at any given second. And I want everyone else to have those rights as well. Equality is not an aspiration, it is a fact that society chooses to reject and tries to abolish. And I can't help but find it funny that this unyielding conviction is partially accredited to the intolerance I learned and my indefinite deviation from it. Thank you religious leaders for making me the proud disappointment I am today. I owe you one.
Can you relate?
*Totally not his name.