In which I explain how we ‘feel’ about gay people
It bothers me how much the word ‘hate’ is thrown around. I don’t hate anyone. I hang out with mostly conservatives, and no one I know just hates a random group of people. I get asked a lot, though, how I ‘feel’ about gay people. Like, family members who are gay, or what I would do if my kids were gay. I usually don’t know what they mean when they ask those questions. I ‘feel’ about gay people the way I feel about anyone else. Kind of apathetic about who is having sex with who. It doesn’t make any difference to me. However, because people keep asking, I have been thinking about it, and came up with an analogy. Which I will now share.
I know people who smoke, have hung out with people who smoked, and have plenty of extended family members who smoke (just as I have some family members who are homosexual). I love them. I think the same of them as any other member of my family. My grandmother, who lived with my family for the last few years of her life, smoked. I adored her! I have wonderful memories of the time we spent together, mostly playing rummy on her bed, watching Jeopardy. I would talk to her for hours after getting home from school. I really miss her.
She smoked, and it was completely irrelevant. It had nothing to do with the way I felt about her. I still love her, I loved spending time with her, and wish she were still around to have met my husband and children. I never, ever, felt disgusted by her. I didn’t look down on her. I wasn’t revolted by her. I didn’t think I was better than her.
But, that’s what people think I feel about gay people. Why? Why do people assume I am revolted by, scared of, hateful toward, disdainful of, or self righteous toward gay people? Because I fight to keep marriage defined as being between a man and a woman. But, what does that have to do with how I feel about them? Nothing.
Let’s say a movement began that would lead to, or had already led to, high school and elementary school children being taught that smoking is normal, healthy and a totally valid lifestyle choice. There are probably plenty of smokers to think this. I disagree. I don’t want my children taught that. There are plenty of smokers who live happy, full lives. Who don’t regret their choice to smoke at all, and maybe even feel like their life is better for it. That’s fine for them, but I still don’t want my children taught that.
Let’s say smokers started saying that they were sick of being separate but equal, and demanded that restaurants do away with smoking sections. Everyone gets to do whatever they want, where ever they are. Well, I would fight that. Not because I hate smokers. Because I think that restaurants should be able to choose whether or not to have smoking sections, and it’s okay to put them in a separate room. (I do believe this, by the way. Some states don’t allow smoking anywhere in public; I think that if a restaurant wants to have a smoking section, they should be able to.)
Usually when people smoke, they have friends or family who encourage them to quit. Do you think this is because they hate them? No. Not at all. It’s actually almost always because they care deeply for the person, and want them to have the longest, healthiest life possible. When someone tries to change a gay person, it’s not because they hate them. It’s because they think they could have a happier, fuller, healthier life if they changed their behavior. Everyone is free, of course, to disagree with that. But that is the way people like me feel. Again, it’s the opposite of hate.
If my children started smoking, I wouldn’t love them any less. I would adore them as much as I do now. I wouldn’t think they were bad people. I might be disappointed that they chose to smoke, but I wouldn’t shun them or shut them out. I certainly haven’t done that with any of the current smokers I know. Nor have I ever done that to any homosexual I know.
But, if smokers started regularly bringing their cigarettes to churches, lighting up, and then suing the churches when they were asked to please go outside, I would side with the church. If, then, the government ruled that the smokers actually have more rights than the church to smoke where they want, including on church property, I would fight that.
Because I am disgusted by smokers? No. Because I think churches have the right to preach and practice what they want.
If someone was fired from General Mills for saying they thought smoking was a bad idea, and that non-smokers are healthier, I would respond by taking my business elsewhere. Individuals should have the right to say what they believe. If Target decided to donate money to groups putting on presentations extolling the virtues of smoking, I would question their judgement and think about shopping elsewhere. Because I hate smokers? No. Because I disagree with what they are supporting.
If a private charity placing adoptions for children decided not to place children in the homes of smokers, because they believe that secondhand smoke is dangerous and that children raised by smokers are more likely to also smoke and they think that’s not the most promising environment for children, I would support that. If the government came in and demanded they change their policies or lose their tax exempt status, I would fight that.
Now, I would never, ever fight to make smoking illegal. If someone wants to smoke in the privacy of their home, or in establishments where the owner is okay with them smoking, then more power to them. I think people should be able to do whatever they want, by themselves, to themselves. But if they wanted to teach my children that smoking is healthy, and force churches to allow smoking within its walls, or declare that it is illegal for someone to choose not to work in a smoking environment, or rule against individuals who have been sued for declining to work in a smoking environment, or declare that children need to be placed in homes with smokers or adoption agencies need to be shut down, then I will get involved. Because I disagree with those things.
No one I know wants to make homosexuality illegal. It used to be, yes, but it’s not anymore. So move on, be happy with your partner, be happy that you are with the person you love and can commit your lives to each other. Just leave the churches, schools and charities out of it. Because once you start attacking those institutions, people will fight back. It has nothing to do with hate.