I’m beautiful in my way, ‘Cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.
— Lady Gaga
When I was in high school, I remember one night a group of four or five guys on the football team bragging about water-balloon-bombing the car of this kid they indelicately called “the fag.”
I knew the guy they were talking about, an introspective — and decidedly effeminate — classmate who might have weighed 130 pounds on a good day. I asked my fellow football players what happened after their attack, and they said, “We took off. He chased us all over town, but we didn’t let him catch up with us.”
I laughed to myself at the thought of that scenario: Five muscle-bound jocks speeding through the streets of Ocilla, trying to escape one lone guy who’d make up about half of any one of them. And I wondered to myself what they were afraid of.
Today, as America overreacts, as usual, to the president’s recent declaration that he favors same-sex marriage and condemnations erupt from all over, I’m drawn back to that relatively innocent night of hijinks all those years ago. And I wonder again: What are people so afraid of?
What is it about homosexuality that frightens people in this country, angers many to the point of violence? What is it about two people sharing a non-traditional relationship that feels right to them that unleashes the hatred and vitriol of people who know nothing about the couple?
I’m sorry, but I’m not buying that argument about Christian values here. Yes, I’ve read the Bible verses that vilify same-sex relationships, but I’ve also read verse after verse after verse in that same Bible that speaks of love for others — all others — of forgiveness, of leaving judgment to God.
I don’t care how “righteous” you self-appointed arbiters of good vs. evil profess to be, who are you to render value judgment on the way others choose to live their lives? I seem to recall Jesus’ reaction to those in a group that clamored to stone to death a woman living outside accepted social mores. I believe He invited anyone without sin to cast the first stone. Perhaps those who would condemn someone for his or her relationship preference might do well to read Bible verses other than the ones that fit so neatly into their personal comfort zone.
In principle, I’m not a big proponent of same-sex marriage. But then I feel I have no solid ground on which to base such a presumption. The only way I can relate is to think of my own personal relationships and wonder how I’d react if someone told me “you can’t do that anymore because it’s wrong.” I don’t think I’d be too keen on giving up something wonderful to me based on someone else’s ideology.
(Incidentally, I also don’t think any couple — of any conceivable combination — standing before a minister or a justice of the peace and swearing vows in any way makes their commitment to each other any stronger than any other couple, no matter the orientation.)
A committed personal relationship between any two people is hard enough without the unwarranted condemnation of total strangers. Maybe it’s time we turned the attention we’re devoting to others’ relationships inward and decided if, as Jesus suggested, we have a right to cast stones in anyone else’s direction. If you think you qualify, you’re a helluva lot better person than I ... or anyone else I’ve ever met.
Oh, and if you do decide to do a little soul-searching, you might ask yourself that question I asked all those years ago as my teammates ran from the guy they’d water-bombed: What are you so afraid of?
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.