Monday, June 29, 2015
The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the United States Friday June 26th. The state I call home was one of the 13 that had a ban on same-sex marriage at the time of the ruling.
In the hours following the announcement there was nothing but celebration on my personal social networks. Though there was no mention out loud among my co-workers during the day, I got on my phone over my breaks and liked and shared a stream of rainbows and kisses and support and love. When my lunch break came, I went out to my car and cried.
If you follow my blog you know that I’m mostly afraid to share what I write about with most people I know. As a result I often feel like I’m hiding a major part of my identity. But even so, I can choose who I reveal my life with. That I’m kinky, in an open marriage, have male and female partners, and that my gender identity as a disabled woman has been a long and winding journey. I am married to a man and have not had my rights regarding my marriage challenged.
My friends who are openly LGBT have to face an onslaught of criticism where we live, especially on social networks. The truth of the matter is virtually none of my “vanilla” friends (for lack of a better term here) knows the word “polyamory” to post hateful comments or memes about it. But I can’t imagine seeing someone bash or mock terms and phrases (Gay, Lesbian, “coming out” etc.) so closely related to your very identity on a daily basis. And as far as my social networks go, it has been on a daily basis that I see anti-LGBT sentiment.
And all these friends are Christian.
Not all of my friends who are Christian bash the LGBT community. But all my friends that bash the LGBT community are Christians. And I have come to associate that sentiment with Christianity.
After Friday’s ruling I told myself I would not focus on the negative. That I would be grateful and embrace the relatively high number of people I know who support marriage equality and are not judging others based on their sexual lives or identities. I was impressed that there were actually so many people I knew eager to celebrate same-sex marriage and openly post on their pages stories and support whether they were part of the LGBT community or not.
But the back lash arrived. People I know and love started posting defensive, hateful, and judgmental comments. And then the arguments began.
There are people who have cried with me, held my hand, and shared deep, heart-wrenching secrets. Revealed the most raw and shameful feelings about sex and their soul with me. They were relieved that I wasn’t judgmental and I accepted them. It was hard. We both trembled. We had a real connection and we helped each other.
And now those same people are sharing Matt Walsh on social networks, unabashedly putting down others in cruel verbal attacks, and being visibly put off and awkward when they spot my rainbow bracelet.
I have seen some amazing, genuine, and courageous statements in the past few days. I’ve also seen vile arguments, severed friendships, and some of the most sickening comments made by people I love toward people they claim to love. And it’s starting to come from both sides.
For some people I love in my life, this issue has turned into an Us vs. Them.
In the past few days I have had to fight hard to bite my tongue instead of taking a cheap crack at Christianity or posting a self-indulgent comment on my vanilla social networks. Because though I’m angry, it’s not the kind of person I want to be.
I think of my Christian friends and how bad I would feel to make snarky overgeneralized comments that attack a major part of their identity. Yet people are posting things that do just this, without apology. With complete conviction that they should still have the right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.
As a sex blogger I am just starting to go out into the realm of sex education and speaking. I want to take my work further than the internet, my blog, and my social networks. But I don’t want to leave my home. I want to do the work I do even though it won’t be supported by the majority of the people I live with.
Because I want to help real people, no matter who they are, what they believe, what their relationships or bodies or identities look like. I want people to embrace the erotic and their bodies and their relationships amidst the shame and narrow minded views of even the most well known concepts like gender and sexual orientation.
And in most cases, I can be unbiased. I personally hold both liberal and conservative views and I’m used to being ridiculed or mocked by those who don’t agree. And there are times along the way where I can have fruitful conversations with those who have different views and we come out the better for it.
But I would be lying if I said in the last couple days that things I’ve seen on social media sites have not strongly made me question friendships – some that have lasted years, some even with family. It has made me realize that the work I am doing in sexuality may be much harder to do where I live than I thought. It has rekindled fears and made me feel more alone than I have in a long time. And I’m sad that comments made on a Facebook page can have that kind of power.
Deep down inside, however, I know that Facebook doesn’t have that kind of power. If I go out into the world as a sexuality educator, there will be battles. And they will not be won on Facebook.
They will be won by entwining fingers, trembling together, and revealing secrets. Across café tables, in backseats, on park benches. In back bedrooms and back yards and on long walks with longer conversations. Face to face, in real breathing time. And I want to be there for that. I do not want to become so hardened by hate or define myself or others by arguments on social media.
Someday I hope everyone I know and love is aware that I write about sex. That I share a loving and open relationship with my husband. That I have partners who are enchanting, smart, amazing people from all walks of life. I hope people with disabilities can make peace with their bodies and embrace the potentials of pleasures those bodies provide. I hope any marriage or relationship can be free of lying, abuse, neglect, and shame.
People who have had to work the hardest to feel at home in their own bodies have a kind of connection that the hate cannot break. I’m not alone. And even among the nasty comments and hurt, I feel safer, more confident, and at peace with myself knowing that these people are in my life.
I will have to work hard to forgive, and to understand the views of those I love who so rigidly oppose sexual diversity and sexual choices, expression, or education. But I’ll keep trying, because the number one thing I’ve learned from this moment in history is that love wins.