This is Gay Pride week on the campus of my alma mater and countless others. It should come as no surprise to those that know me that I am likely to support civil rights, including marriage equality until my dying breath. Now equality seems obvious. It is so fundamental to the values of a free society that they are said to be self-evident and inalienable–all humans should be equal in the rights and protections afforded by their government. That there are movements afoot to enshrine to enshrine the prohibition of a right for one group that is taken for granted by another is sad. That such movements are achieving success is frightening. Make no mistake, a century from now, the leaders of the National Organization for Marriage (which exists solely for the purpose of preventing marriage) and like-minded groups will be remembered no more kindly for the actions in the beginning of this century that those who fought against women’s suffrage in the beginning of the last.
Alas, truths that seem self-evident at one point seem unthinkable at another, even in one’s own lifetime. Sixteen years ago, I was on the wrong side of history. When the day came to show support (or at least a passive lack of contempt) bisexual, gay, and lesbian students by wearing blue jeans, I went out of my way to wear something else. I could have simply worn Dockers or slacks, but those may have been mistaken for work clothes. Here I was, coming off a year of indoctrination at a Fundamentalist Bible College, full of ignorance and pride, burning with a desire to nip this “pride” in the bud. I needed to show my classmates where I really stood What would happen if people did accept “them” as normal? People had to know the truth. Civilization depended on it. If they won, “good,” whatever that was, will have lost. So I chose to clothe myself in camouflage over a handmade “Sodomy is Sin” T-Shirt. That would show them. Surely all would see who had the plain, “loving” Truth on his side against those who “hated” society.
That stunt cost me some friends. It cost me respect. I’m lucky it didn’t cost me my relationship with the love of my life. I deserved derision, yet I was the one handing it out on people whose only goal was acceptance. It was quite possibly the worst, most hateful thing I have done.
So this week, I’m here to say to anyone who might have seen me that day, I was wrong. Not just for acting out, but for even considering that other students were somehow less deserving than I was because I like to look at women instead of men.
I was wrong. I will not pretend that I kind find some metaphysical solace through penance, prayer or forgiveness. That is not the way I want to be remembered. Yet, for some, it will be. I like to hope that those who did see me that day have simply forgotten by now. But I know they haven’t. They couldn’t? If I was not the worst thing that happened to them, I should have been.
I was not merely misguided. I was wrong. I cannot have that day back, but I can do my best to be an ally to those who want to love and share, and an example to those who would rather hate and hide. To my bisexual, gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I hope that you will accept the companionship of one so undeserving as I.
To those who supported my actions that day sixteen years ago, if you still feel that way, please consider applying the Golden Role to this situation. Do you really want other people deciding whether or not you can get married and to whom? Do you want someone to find it “gross” for you to hold your spouse’s hand, or for their first thoughts when meeting you to involve your actions in the bedroom instead of the community? If the answer is “no” to any of these, then please, do what you know is right, not what you think might be. Future You will thank Present You for the peace of mind.