Keep the closet door ajar

“I maintain two Facebook profiles, one private for friends and family and one public for everybody else.”

“Two? Why in the world…?”

“I know, it’s crazy, right? But some people can and will take away things I cherish if I let them. I was reminded of that last week.

North Carolina just passed an amendment banning marriage equality and some of the people I was working with sounded like maybe, just maybe, they supported it.”

“What do you mean, ‘maybe’?”

“I left the room every time it sounded like somebody might go there. I didn’t want to know. I wanted to like them.”

“I’m so sorry you feel the need to do this.”

“Well, to some degree, about some things, we still have to live in that funky space called ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We don’t see it much in the big sophisticated world anymore, but it shows up in the small spaces, the spaces you have to get through to reach some treasures.”

“Why don’t you just give up the so-called treasures? Boycott. Take a stand.”

“Usually we do. Like Chik-fil-A. Love those sandwiches, and will never eat another. But occasionally, for something truly magical, it’s worth it to step back into the closet for a short while. Occasionally.”

“I’ve lived in very progressive places all my life, so it’s hard for me to even think that you would ever have to be anything but a hundred percent yourself. I can’t even imagine what you are going through.”

“It’s not so much something we go through as a way we’ve lived our whole lives. Look, I’ve never been somebody who ‘looked gay’. I’ve always been the person who people were shocked to find out about. And that’s been okay with me because I sort of felt like it was my mission to have them like and respect me before they found out so it would be harder for them to reject me. And then they’d have to think about their own prejudices.”

“So why not do that now?”

“I do do it in my real world. I do it at work. I do it anywhere where it doesn’t matter or where I can fight back. But this was a place with “Christian” in the name. It’s a place that serves children. It’s a place that specifically excludes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy. It’s in North Carolina. And it’s a place where I desperately want to go once a year to serve those kids, too. It’s the place that held me up, in many ways, when I was a child, and just being there feeds my soul. If just one wing-nut decided I was unfit to be with children because of some ignorant, bigoted misperception — and admit it, you know a few — there would be no discussion. I’m a volunteer. They can simply never return my calls again and there would be nothing on Earth I could do about it. So if for one week a year I have to go back into the closet, if for one week I have to pretend to be chronically single and waiting for Mr. Right, then for one week I’ll do it. That’s the price we still pay.”

“I had no idea.”

“You are not alone.”

“What can we do?”

“Don’t vote for any candidate who would support or abstain from rejecting any anti-gay legislation. Call other people on it when they do. Reject the idea that everything’s fine now, that we’re all equal. No minority ever achieved equality without the express support of the majority.”

“And tell your friends. Share this conversation with them. Make sure they know that every time they vote for an anti-gay candidate, they are shoving us back into the closet. We are their children, their neighbors, their friends. We pay the same taxes, clean the same toilets, travel the same roads, cry the same tears. Yet by virtue of who they sleep with, they have all the power over how we live our lives, over how much love and joy we’re allowed to share. This is what’s warped about our system.”

A guarantee of equality that is subject to exceptions by the majority is no guarantee at all.” – Therese Stewart

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  1. #1 by Kris on June 20, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    Really terrific post!

  2. #2 by Cody on June 20, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    I am so honored that I can call you “family” Love you, Cody

    • #3 by Alice Melott on June 20, 2012 - 4:53 pm

      And I you, Cody. I’m so grateful. xoxox

  3. #4 by Mary on June 21, 2012 - 8:51 am

    Beautiful.

  4. #5 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 8:54 am

    just some counter food for thought if your interested, ive always been anti-homosexuality not anti-gays. by this i mean im against the practice of it but as for gay people they are still people. I would vote against the marriage because it promotes the practice but i wouldnt take away rights. So im kind of in a paradox. But as for the christian aspect of it Christians fail to realize what God said himself, Love sinner not the sin. It is possible to be anti homosexuality and still treat gay people as equals. After all dont we all sin? Just my thought. The mistreatment of Gays is wrong but so is there sin. However it is not our place to judge. Another Jesus quote when people were about to stone a prostitute to death as was the law, Jesus said “Let you who are sinless throw the first stone.” This reinforces that it is not our place to judge but His.

    • #6 by Kevin on June 21, 2012 - 8:57 am

      So Ben, then why do you pass judgement on them and their “practices”?

  5. #7 by Jane M. on June 21, 2012 - 8:56 am

    Beautifully expressed and makes me infinitely sad and mad that these types of prejudices still exist.

  6. #8 by Kris on June 21, 2012 - 8:57 am

    Really terrific post. Ben, I don’t quite understand what you mean when you call being gay a “practice”. We all know – admit it even you know – that we are who we are and we love who we love. I don’t accept the premise of calling love and/or attraction a sin. We do all sin, but love and relationships? Love, not a sin, marriage, not a sin, treating each other as equals and having some respect? NOT a sin.

  7. #9 by Mary E. on June 21, 2012 - 8:58 am

    It is scientifically documented that homosexuality shows up in over 400 species of God’s creation, including some primate species. Why, if he hates it so much, would that be the case if He created them?

  8. #10 by Mary E. on June 21, 2012 - 8:58 am

    Also, as long as churches are not forced to go against their own teachings to perform them, gay marriages will not in any harm the “sanctity” of marriage. Heterosexuals have done that plenty already. Not a whole lot of harm left to be done….

  9. #11 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 8:59 am

    what i meant by practice was the act of homosexuality. Im a christian and i take what the bible says as sin. Kevin, i dont pass judgement because i cant i just dont approve. So what im just a 15 year old kid what do i know? i only meant to share my opinion. i apologize if my misuse of vocabulary made any offense. To me, homosexuality is a sin when the two people have sex. because to me if it doesnt create a child it is sexual immorality and if it involves two guys it causes sodomy, a word derived from sodom, a city destroyed by God for their sins, and that goes under sexual immorality. Once again please forgive me if i offend anyone.

  10. #12 by Mary E. on June 21, 2012 - 8:59 am

    Ben, while I don’t agree with you, I think you have stated your position very well. Especially considering your age and how touchy a subject this is for so many on both sides

  11. #13 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 8:59 am

    what god created was originally perfect and sinless when sin entered the world it was corrupted by that sin. I dont believe god created those relations between two primates or any other animal. Once again i dont know nor do i claim to know, im only sharing opinion.

  12. #14 by Natalie on June 21, 2012 - 9:00 am

    Ben, you say “it is possible to be anti homosexuality and still treat gay people as equals.” However, if you would vote against gay marriage, how is that treating gay people as equals? Or are you saying that it’s possible to treat gay people as equals, but you choose not to? Sorry if these questions come off as rude; I am trying, but I struggle to understand your view.

  13. #15 by Mary E. on June 21, 2012 - 9:00 am

    Ben, I think He must have, as I don’t believe the other creatures of the earth were given the free will of humans, so they can only do as they have been created to do. Just my opinion, as well. :-)

  14. #16 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:01 am

    i understand but like i said im in a paradox. Its hard to decide, because as a human i am very biased, having never been remotely attracted to someone of the same sex, i dont know what its like. Im sorry if i came across as two sided and i understand how it may seem so. what i think is as a person alone, i would never look down on them, i would never make fun of them, i would never hurt them physically or verbally, but i wouldnt lie and say that i didnt think what they did was sinful (if i were asked). This subject is too hard to be absolute in any way.

  15. #17 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:01 am

    To mary, i believe they have as much free will as us because why would god make a half baked idea? why not make perfection in everything?

  16. #18 by Mary E. on June 21, 2012 - 9:01 am

    Interesting point, Ben. Holly, I think this has to be the most polite, civilized online conversation I’ve ever seen about this topic. It speaks well of everyone who has posted here. :)

  17. #19 by Kevin on June 21, 2012 - 9:02 am

    Ben, it is judging someone to say they are a sinner. The bible says a lot of things are sin that today’s Christians do not agree is a sin, such as eating too much and being lazy. Americans do both everyday. You probably have done both. Guess that makes everyone full of sin.

  18. #20 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:02 am

    That is exactly right. Christianity is about realizing everyone is full of sin and asking for redemption. You are 100% right, i have done both. Im also a victim of pride and hate. Even blasphemy in the past. I am a hypocrite and a chronic sinner. Please understand that all of us are even if we dont want to acknowledge that.

  19. #21 by Natalie on June 21, 2012 - 9:03 am

    I disagree that the subject is “too hard to be absolute in any way” but I respect your right to your own opinion. And I respect the way that you’ve thoughtfully presented your views. It’s rare that I see your position presented intelligently. I still don’t really understand why you judge others for their sins when you’ve admitted that you are a sinner yourself, but I’m not sure that I ever will. Time for me to get back to work.

  20. #22 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:03 am

    Also, forgive my saying so, but american christians, of which im one, are the worst of the bunch. We have no trials, and when the church has no tribulations, it is weak and convictionless.

  21. #23 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:03 am

    If your still on natalie, im not perfect. I cant help but point out others sins because i am human and stupid. Im sure youve done the same, if you havent then you are one of few. Sometimes even I cant believe myself.

  22. #24 by Kris on June 21, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Ben, I think if you believe in God and believe that there is a plan, then it must include and take into account everything that exists. But kudos to you for diving into this very sensitive political arena – I wish more folks were able to engage in a respectful dialogue, whatever the difference of opinion. You are well-spoken/written. I hope that as you grow and mature, you keep this side of yourself. For so many it has become a judgmental, bitter screaming match – which does no one any good at all.

  23. #25 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Thank you too kris. I used to be one of those screaming idiots. But like you said that accomplishes nothing. Our world unfortunately is run by them because one thing that ive learned is that against a screamer, even a soft spoken person will accomplish nothing because the screamers dont really want to debate. They just dont care about any other opinion aside from there own.

  24. #26 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:04 am

    If a man cuts another down, what does he accomplish?

  25. #27 by Alice Melott on June 21, 2012 - 9:05 am

    Hi Ben. I’m the author of the essay that started this conversation. And I am married legally (in NYC) to a woman who is about to be ordained an Episcopal priest. She has been through seminary and is a Biblical scholar (I am not). She says that sin is anything that separates us from God. If a gay person were to have sex with a person of the opposite gender, that would be going against the way that God made them, i.e., separating them from God or sin. The most dangerous habit you can get into as a young student of the Bible, I believe, is to take it literally. You must consider the time and place and political climate in which each passage was written, the languages it has been translated to/from, and the metaphors that permeate the prose. It is not enough to say “The Bible says so” because, frankly, taken in context, that’s not what it says at all.

  26. #28 by Ben on June 21, 2012 - 9:05 am

    Its nice to hear from the author. I would like to respectfully disagree with your statement that the bible is not literate but, that is merely my opinion. My theology is derived from Eastern Orthodox and also Baptist denominational views. I think that the bible is totally literate, i.e. i believe in a seven day creation, birth by virgin, and three day Resurrection etc. However i understand your basis of believe. I also (personally) do not believe that we are made attracted to one sex or the other, i believe it is a choice. However i have never been attracted to a same-sex relationship so i cannot say for sure. That truly is one of the mysteries of life. P.S. Thank you for allowing me to debate my view on your essay.

  27. #29 by Holly on June 21, 2012 - 9:06 am

    Ben, I truly wish all the adults who disagree with some of the things I post on my wall could do so as thoughtfully and civilly as you have today. And to all who’ve taken part in this discussion, thank you for keeping it a thought-provoking, as opposed to anger-inspiring, discussion.

  28. #30 by Sally on June 21, 2012 - 9:06 am

    A great post for sure.

  29. #31 by Alice Melott on June 21, 2012 - 9:07 am

    Ben — If you believe that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God, then I guess that means that your dad has sold your sister(s) into slavery (Exodus 21:7), your family purchases slaves from Canada and Mexico (Lev. 25:44), you make sure that your friends and family who work on Sundays are executed (Exodus 35:2), you don’t eat shrimp or other shellfish (Lev. 11:10), you never trim your sideburns or shave (Lev. 19:27), you don’t play football because touching the skin of a dead pig makes you unclean (Lev. 11:6-8), and you stone anybody who wears clothes made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend, for instance) (Lev. 19:19). And that’s just for starters. There are 613 restrictions in the Old Testament alone, and I think you’d find at least half of them ridiculous in today’s world. Oh, and no tattoos (Lev. 19:28)!!!

  30. #32 by Shelly on June 21, 2012 - 9:09 am

    I am embarassed for all of North Carolina. No, let’s take it a step further: NC already did not recognize homosexual unions. Now I am even more perplexed. So sorry you were put in a awkward and close-minded situation. We North Carolinians are not all like that! Another buddy of mine thinks that way abt NC and refuses to return here. Sad. I am trying to raise my children to be open, and so far, they are.

  31. #33 by Sarah Ann on June 21, 2012 - 9:44 pm

    I am a NC resident who is not embarrased about the ammendment. I don’t know that we needed to change the constitution, but I do believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Alice, as you know, I went to your sister-in-law’s wedding and I would have been at yours had I not flown back from Africa that day and had to go back to work Monday. I am not as politically involved as the rest of the family, so I may be missing something. I am curious about your feelings about civil unions. If (and I don’t know that they are) the health insurance and other similar benefits are provided for partners in a civil union, would your opinion change? I’d like to understand the crux of your concern – is it the word “marriage”, the socio-econmic ramifications of of that union, or something different altogether? Thanks! PS I’m not a computer guru, so i can’t figure out the gravatar thing – I would not choose this one.

    • #34 by Alice Melott on June 22, 2012 - 7:08 am

      Hi, Sarah Ann. Welcome home. Glad you had a good trip.

      I guess my first question to you is “Would a civil union be enough for you in your relationship?”

      It’s true that there are nearly 2000 “benefits” that you have that we don’t, but this isn’t politics to me. It’s my life. I’ve written about it a lot the past couple of months. Hopefully these essays will help you understand.

      http://amelott.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/why-get-gay-married/

      http://amelott.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/my-first-gay-wedding/

      http://amelott.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/love-is-ours-to-give/

      I’d be interested to know where you get your definition of marriage. Is it Biblically based or something else? What is it about my relationship that you find inferior to yours? And what is it about me that makes it okay for strangers to vote on whether or not I’ll be treated equally? You say you’re okay with what just happened in NC… just such a vote. Are you comfortable with having that sort of power over other people’s lives?

      Thanks for the dialogue.

  32. #35 by Carey on June 22, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    Alice, I love this essay and the others you have written regarding gay rights. My dad (strangely, not the most open-minded guy) used to always quote me a thing about how you have to stand up for others because if you don’t, eventually there will be no one left to stand up for you. I am not in the “gay” group, if there is one, but I certainly believe that people in that group deserve the same rights and the same love as whatever groups I might find myself in and I think it’s worth my time to stand up for those rights. For what it’s worth, one of those groups is “ELCA Lutheran.”

    • #36 by Alice Melott on June 22, 2012 - 4:51 pm

      Thank you, Carey! It’s so great to know that my work is reaching a broader audience. ;c)

      • #37 by Carey on June 25, 2012 - 10:15 am

        I can’t even remember now how I came across this essay, but I’ve been reading your archive ever since. Do you ever get the feeling you’d be friends with someone you’ve never met in person? Anyway… Thanks again for your writing. I’m waiting impatiently for more. :)

  1. Owning our own persecution « Alice's Adventures Above Ground

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