Sunday, February 25, 2007

an inconvenient truth

I just returned from an Oscar's party. Actually, I came back early from it. I gave the polite excuse of being tired (which is true), but the real reason I left was because I had become rather angry.

The party was held by a friend of mine who happens to be rather conservative in his politics. Many of the people there were even more conservative than my friend. And several of those are counselors at a local Christian counseling agency where I do some contract work.

Anyway, tonight Melissa Ethridge won an Oscar for a song she wrote for the movie "An Inconvenient Truth." And in her speech, she mostly focused on Al Gore's message and leadership on the global warming issue, but at one point she made a simple statement of thanks to "my wife."

And the room coldly erupted. Snide jokes came out about who was the "husband" in her relationship with her partner, comments emerged along the lines of "so much for moral values."

I suppose I should have expected this, given the crowd I was with. But some of the more outrageous comments were from COUNSELORS, people who are likely to actually work with GLBT individuals during moments of great pain and crisis. These clients will look to them for signs of their essential value as human beings, who will wonder whether God can accept them for who they are, for who they love.

This thought bothered me so much that I felt I should go. Perhaps it would have been better for me to challenge them, to get into a real discussion of what they believe and why, of how it affects GLBT individuals and those who care about them to hear such comments. But I did not. My anger was probably too intense for me to have had that discussion in a productive manner.

I suppose it could be said that the inconvenient truth for them is that they shall have to face such individuals in their practice from time to time. They will have to reconcile their beliefs about gay people with the realities that they will face, with the empathy that their job requires them to form. I pray that this causes them to look seriously at their beliefs during such moments. From my own perspective, I cannot imagine how such beliefs can be consistent with God's command that we love.

As for me, my "inconvenient truth" is that I believe God calls me to find some way of loving these individuals who offended me tonight. If I simply write them off, refuse to think of them or treat them as human beings any longer, I am perhaps doing no more than they are.

I hope that as my shock and anger subside, I shall reflect more deeply on their perspectives, on their values, on their fears. I hope that I can come to more deeply understand why they feel they must interpret the Bible as they do, why they feel called upon to "defend" the institution of marriage, etc. I hope that I can restrain myself from the urge to "understand" solely so that I might come up with ways to change their mind.

This, I think, is the hard work of love.


more cows than people said...

(o) not sure what to say just yet. praying that all involved grow in love.

Alex said...

I think you were very justified in your feelings. It is hard to see such coldness towards others, especially when couched in "we're just joking" language. Passive agressive and just plain mean. Sorry you had to experience that, Steve.

bowieacolyte said...

That kind of stuff angers me deeply as well. I never say anything when I hear people talk like that. Sometimes I wish I would, but experience has taught me that it would never do any good. So, I just smile inside. It makes me proud to be who I am when I can walk away from stuff like that. You walked away, you could have done different, but it was the right choice. It's sad that the people you refer to are counseling others. It makes me wonder what they think inside when a client voices opinions like that. Also, it just affirms my beliefs that deep down, we are always being judged by others. Maybe that is pessimistic of me. Anyway, thanks for the post, I feel you.

steve said...

more cows,

Thank you, friend.


Thank you for your kind words and affirmation. I think my reaction was justified. But I find myself bumping into the question of what to do next? And I don't mean in terms of whether I will confront them, necessarily. I'm just talking about how I think about them, how I choose to react to what happened. My hope is that somehow I can grow, learn, and understand -- and still passionately disagree.


Thank you for your kind words. I strive to remain true to myself as well, though situations like last night pose challenges. My biggest reaction to it all in retrospect is the question of how I want to let the incident shape me -- of who I want to become as a result. Again, thank you for your comments!

Magdalene6127 said...

I know you posted this a week ago Steve... I just really think it's appalling.

Sorry you had to endure such behavior,


Earthbound Spirit said...

I'm not keeping up with blogs like I used to, sorry this is well after your post.

I've been in a similar situation - a party at a neighbor's, where another neighbor (quite drunk) made anti-gay marriage statements, assuming we all agreed with her. At the time, I chose to walk away. She was drunk, it wasn't my house... and I felt outnumbered.

I always wonder if there will come a time when there will be an accounting - or something in that person's life will make her remember what she said, and regret it.

But, for now - I forgive her. And I forgive myself, and hope to have a better response next time.