Sunday, April 5, 2015

Goodbye to Cousin X

I wish people would think about who they might hurt when they let loose their bigoted, repressive, cutting words on the world of Facebook. Real people read these words. Real people react with their real feelings. Their hurt feelings. Their feelings of despair. This goes out to all of my LGBTQ friends. I'm sorry for some of the shit you endure here. I'm sorry for some of the shit we all have to see here.

P.S. I love my baby brother with all my heart. Don't bake him a fucking cake if you don't want to. I'll bake him a cake, and I'll bake it with love. Keep your hate to yourself.

 I posted this on Facebook tonight. I was so pissed, and I wanted to make a vague statement about a conversation I had with my little brother early this evening, just as I was finishing up a ham dinner to eat with Drake and Montana, my son and daughter-in-law. We'd shared a good day: birthday brunch for Montana, a visit with her adorable 9-month-old nephew, a long hike along the river in a nearby state park with our dogs. While I grilled ham and mashed potatoes, they grabbed a quick nap before their 2 1/2-hour drive home.

I almost didn't answer the phone. I almost didn't even check to see who was calling, but I did, and when I saw it was my youngest brother, probably on his long drive home from Easter dinner at Mom's, I picked up the phone. I intended to just let him say "Happy Easter" and get right off, but instead we had this conversation. (Note: My brother is not on Facebook and never has been. For that I am grateful, for reasons that will become clear. Oh, and also, my  brother is gay. Not that that's any of your business.)

Bro': Did we talk about Cousin X the last time we talked or the time before? Did you say you weren't really in touch with her any more? Because I can understand why now.
Me: I don't remember talking about it, but it's true. We don't have much in common any more.
Bro': Yeah, well I have even less in common with her. You're Facebook friends with her, right?
Me: I am .... or I think I still am. I have her set on "show as little as possible without unfriending." Too much right-wing bullshit for me. Why? What happened?
Bro': I was at Mom's setting up her phone. I put her on my plan so she'd get better reception there.
Me: Yeah, any reception at all would be welcome, I'm sure. I didn't get any bars the entire time I was home for [her husband's] funeral last summer.
Bro': So I was setting up her phone, and I had to load her Facebook app for her. And I saw the kind of shit Cousin X posts on her Facebook. I couldn't believe it.
Me: I haven't seen anything from her in months. What did you see?
Bro': A bunch of stuff. Some really ugly stuff about Obama. And a post about ... well, about me. It said something like making a Christian bake a cake for a gay person is like making a black person bake a cake for the KKK.
Me: Wow. That's .... that's horrible.
Bro': Yeah. I .... I don't know what I ever did to her .... I don't know how she could compare me to the KKK. I didn't know that was who she is now. I won't keep you. I just had to tell you ... It hurts, you know?
Me: I know. It's awful. I don't even know what to say about it. I'm so sorry you saw that.
Bro': I was so upset I almost responded to it right there ...
Me: Yeah, but it would have looked like Mom was responding. Not that she wouldn't have supported you.
Bro': And then I thought I'd send her an email when I got home, but the further down the road I got, the more I realized it would be like teaching a pig to sing. It would waste my time and just annoy the pig.
Me: You're right. You're not going to change her stupid, bigoted opinions.
Bro': I know. I just want to ... I don't know. Tell her I'm a real person, someone she knows, and that's a vile way to talk about me and my friends and a lot of people she doesn't even know.
Me: It is. I just doubt you'd get any satisfaction from contacting her. Maybe ... but probably not.
Bro': I'm not going to. I decided to call you instead. I'll let you go now.
Me: OK. I'm just getting dinner on the table. Sorry.
Bro': It's OK. I just needed to tell you.
Me: I love you. Drive safe.
Bro': Love you too. Talk to you soon.

I have so much to say about this, I can barely think straight. I'll try to be concise though. Joining the KKK is a choice. A vile choice. Being a Christian is a choice. And the result of that choice sometimes results in vile actions, like posting shit like this on Facebook.

I'm not sure who Cousin X thinks she's talking about when she compares a gay wedding to the KKK (the irony can't escape any of you), but if I cared to have the conversation with her, I would remind her that she's talking about real people. Real people who have the same human desires and failings, the same needs and feelings that she does. Real people who include her younger cousin  who shared holiday dinners and birthdays with her at my house for several years when we all lived close to each other and far from other family. A real person who used to think she cared a great deal for him. 

Apparently she does not. Does not care about him, and does not see him as a real person with the same rights she has.

You know what though? It's none of her damn business who he loves or who he shares a wedding cake with or even who he fucks. None. Of. Her. Business. Nor mine. Nor yours. Nobody's business but his own.

But since people insist on making my brother their business, let me tell you something about his weekend. He drove 10 hours to and from to spend Easter with our recently widowed mother. He's probably made that trip 25 times in the past year. Maybe more. While he was there he told stupid jokes, cooked, cleaned up, did several handyman chores that Mom needed done, watched some TV, set up her cell phone, teased his sisters, let a few odorous farts, laughed too loud and cried too easily, reminisced about those of us who weren't there, saw something cruel on Facebook that cut him to his soul .... 

Here's what he didn't do. He didn't discriminate refuse to show common courtesy to anybody, including straight people, who are not like him in that way that's so important to some straight people. He didn't rape any children. Most pedophiles are straight men anyway. He didn't shame any little girls who wanted to wear a suit for Easter. I doubt very much he compelled anybody to commit suicide, although if you've ever endured one of his farts ... I digress. And he did not post a quick, yet heart-wrenchingly cruel, quotation on Facebook about anybody at all, but especially not about somebody he thought might remember him with fondness, if not love. 

Who wouldn't want to bake this man a wedding cake? (He's single, btw!)

I have to ask: Are there really good people who think their savior rose from the dead on a day like this one a couple thousand years ago just so they could use the religion they named after him to crush people who don't love the same gender of person they love? Really? Is that what they got from Jesus? Is that what they distilled from his words?

From what I know of Jesus, he accepted everybody. In fact, I think that radical, liberal young rabbi would have been out there performing gay weddings if such a thing had even been a thing. Oh, I know he would have. He certainly wouldn't have been quoting John Hawkins' words of hate on Facebook.

I'm rambling. It's hard to watch someone I love step on a landmine like that one up there. It's hard to see people I love and people I don't even know try to defend who they are, who they were born to be. It's hard to watch people carry on conversations about them -- about them -- as if they weren't real live human beings who shouldn't have to defend their relationships to anybody.

So I'll stop rambling and say it again to people like Cousin X (who won't be on my Facebook friend list after this): Don't bake my brother a fucking cake if you can't treat him like a human being who has all the same feelings and rights as you. I will bake him all the cakes he can eat, and I will make them with love. You hit him today with your words, and you hurt him. But don't think that means you will oppress him forever. Your dehumanizing hatred is going to cause a backlash like you've never even imagined. A backlash of people loving and supporting and fighting for their gay relatives and friends, and yes, even strangers.

Wait for it. It's already headed your way. Bam!

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