Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

People surprise you

My parents are Republicans, and fairly conservative ones at that. My father watches 'The O'Reilly Factor,' and my mom wants Condoleezza Rice to run for president. Sometimes, this makes me really angry; it was especially hard during the last election while Bush was throwing around phrases like, "the sanctity of marriage." Sometimes I'm just sad because I honestly don't understand how they can support that man and his croonies.

But every once in a while (and this is a rare once in a while, indeed), I'm a little glad that they're Republicans. I think it'd be very easy for me to become hateful. It would be easy for me to decide that the red states only have stupid rednecks, or the midwest is filled with cruel bigots. While I may intellectually know that these generalizations are wrong, it's hard to fight the fear and hate I feel when the Article 8 Alliance attacks another company for being too "pro-gay" (Cass brought you a similar story about a Tylonel ad, I bring you this one about Avis). It's hard to try and be fair when all signs point toward an up in anti-gay hate crimes.

But my parents serve as a reminder that Republicans from Ohio aren't gay-hating, oppression-rearing, hate-mongering monsters. I disgree with my parents politically. I think they've bought into fear and lies. I think they are wrong. But I respect their independence and choices, and despite the occational political scruffle, I respect their political choices. Both of my parents are nothing but supportive of my relationship with Ion. My mom asked the other day when we were thinking of getting married (or having a commitment ceremony, depending on where we end up living). The other day, I caught my dad bragging about Ion and her chemistry successes on the phone to his old boss. My mom has been a supporter of this blog. Both of my parents think Bush is wrong for pushing his marriage amendment.

While I believe that Bush's vulgar approach toward civil rights deserves an abandonment of support from all humanity-loving people, I understand that my parents believe differently. I don't understand how they believe, but I understand that they have the right to these thoughts. I'll never stop wishing that my parents will see the light and become progressive thinkers, but I know that they help me every day avoid hate and humble myself. And this is a blessing in an otherwise bad situation.

In this vein, I was reminded again today to remain fair. Whenever I return to Ohio, I feel a twinge of fear in the back of my spine. I become more conscious of the way I act and speak, and no matter how kind the people around me are, a bit of me wonders, "What would happen if they knew I was a lesbian?"

I have an aunt who is not really my aunt (I'm sure we all have a family member like this), and today my mom told her that Ion is my girlfriend. This aunt has spent years teasing me about boys, and I know it never crossed her mind that I was gay. Today, my aunt was wearing a shirt with an American flag that read, "If you don't love this country, leave it," but she didn't even bat an eye about my relationship. She asked questions about Ion and took a real interest in Ion's chemistry.

I think the lesson of all this is that people surprise you. A lot of Ohioans are homophobes; after all, look at our marriage ban. And I still can't see how a person can be gay and Republican. I still have trouble when I think about the past election: how can I not believe that my parents voted against me? But instead of turning my back on my parents and the other Republican Ohioans, I'm trying to keep an open mind about them. Because some of them are like my aunt, and some of them will support my relationship with Ion.

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