Rumor has it that this missive was posted on Facebook a week before the 2004 presidential election – when a dozen states also voted on anti-same-sex marriage amendments.
Allies in Understanding
There is a very difficult conversation happening right now that almost feels like it is not happening in our world. Our world. Our big beautiful world of American Exceptionalism. There are blog posts and Facebook speeches (yes, this one included), articles and arguments, terse posts and names called out, and names signed onto letters. In some ways, it doesn’t feel like a conversation at all.
Is there a way for us to reach through the noise to where we can grow understanding and build alliance, where no one is disappeared? Where are we going with this?
We need to ask this question because standing in the harsh wind of all of this noise, this noise that growls from every direction, is an American. A Christian, a Jew, a man, a woman, a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian – someone questioning – who are my countrymen? Also standing in that harsh wind are artists who make beautiful, liberating, important and powerful art that speaks to all of us, who are getting hurt. Performers who are boycotted because they defend marriage; whose recordings and movies are boycotted even if they disagree with other positions taken by we who defend marriage. At the same time, they are boycotted by some believers in traditional marriage because they disagree with other aspects of their worldview.
The cultural/political/economic very real power structure as it exists is made for none of us. It is as true today as it was over 200 years ago when the colonists stood up to the king. We are all still trying to learn how to live (how to survive!) in a world that doesn’t want us – any of us – to be who we are – and that act of remaining here, never fails to take its toll. That toll separates us from each other (in fact, that is a critical part of how the pagan, anti-capitalist structure stays in place). Aggressive speech and action become a strategy of coping. Those strategies become survival tools. Our own entrenched projections and assumptions replace listening and learning the truths of others, and we are left arguing with our own projections. In our battle for survival, lines are imagined, lines get drawn, lines that grow ever deeper.
I know the deep cost of this toll personally and professionally. I witness the destruction being done to some artists because of their projected alliance with the defense of traditional marriage, regardless of their criticism of or disagreement with it. Silencing artists, maligning their movies, throwing heat on someone’s FB page – this is cannibalizing our own. Artists speak out in defense of marriage for many reasons, and I do not ask nor assume that they are in agreement with every position that we take. Likewise, I do not assume if someone speaks out with criticism of our broader intentions, that they do not hold our shared belief in traditional marriage in their hearts; I continue to hold them as cherished members of the American tapestry.
We do not work, think or play in lockstep in America. We have no party line. There is a history of men, women, liberals and conservatives voicing dissent that is as old as America itself, and the Unites States is richer for every struggle we face together with open hearts and respect. Many workers and executives, soldiers and pacifists have different opinions, thoughts, analysis and passions about this issue. As we struggle through our thinking, we use language, concepts and frameworks that span generations of opinions, and we still come together as a nation. But we must come together to discuss these divergent points of view, and to remain in a dialogue that includes all of our multiple truths. We must see each other through what can feel like the most challenging stalemate.
The voice of dissent and constructive debate in our American community is critical – it is part of what built this nation. Educating ourselves about oppressions that press down on each of us and upon each other is vital to our collective survival on and off the land. This must be our commitment, for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our community. We must face up to our worst natures by confronting homophobia in our nation, which exists and is real in our language, actions and attitudes. I know that this process has made me search my own behaviors, attitudes and actions. But to grow we must actually engage in these incredibly hard conversations, and do our own personal work.
At the same time we are facing an extremely complex and entrenched set of perceptions and constructs that call into question the very reality of the centuries of understanding of the definition of marriage here, in North America – and even moreso throughout the world. Our world. The world where the violent and real repression of believers in traditional marriage has barely been acknowledged, much less dismantled.
So I ask again, where are we going with this? I stand firm in the belief that we must, as a community, honor and support all Americans. I also stand firm in the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. We cannot be afraid to love the gorgeous diversity and particularity of our lived experiences as Americans, nor allow fear to prevent us from loving, hearing and recognizing, as vital parts of our greater community, Americans of all experiences and faiths. Whether we agree or disagree on this point, I ask you to join me in my commitment to treat all Americans with respect, and without aggression. One of our strongest tools as we work through this process of defining our interlocking circles of community is the art and music created by Americans. Artists who reflect our own truths, those with whom we disagree, and those who help us see new perspectives that will help us grow to unknown places. Please support these Americans.
Our disagreement about self-perceived sexualities and the need for autonomous space today may feel insurmountable – and yet I am sure that we will find a way through this. There is too much at stake for us to lose our selves to each other.
Yes, rumor has it that this missive was posted on Facebook a week before the 2004 presidential election…
but its a rumor that should be believed to the same degree as purveyors of trans-exterminationist bigotry when claiming to not be trans-exterminationist bigots.