15 November 2013
Don't love me anyway.
When I started coming out to friends and family almost two years ago, the response was largely positive. So far (to my knowledge) no one has disowned me because I'm gay, and most of the responses have been something along the lines of "Okay" or "Cool."
However, there are two responses I'd like to highlight because they each said--in different ways--the same thing: I love you anyway.
One person, who we'll call Brobee, is a male family member. The other, who we'll call Toodee, is a female friend.
Brobee was one of the first people I told, partly because he's family. The conversation went better than I expected. I expected Brobee to turn his back on me when I told him, due in large part to his religious upbringing (read: IFB*). He didn't hang up on me. He didn't "disown" me. He was quiet and confused. He said he didn't understand how or why I would "choose this lifestyle," and I tried to explain that it's not a choice, it's just how I am. And he essentially said he loves me anyway.
Shortly after that conversation I was visiting Brobee. We were talking about TV shows (or something), and out of nowhere he said, "You know George Takei? He's a gay." I'll add that point to the "he's trying" column.
Toodee is a very dear friend of mine. We've been friends for fourteen years. We don't live near each other, and don't talk nearly as often as I'd like, but we're there for each other, and we know we can count on each other when we need to. When I told her, she said she doesn't agree with my "lifestyle choice" (there's that phrase again), but that she loves me anyway. That was really the last we spoke of it, and for my part, I don't feel like it's hindered our friendship at all.
But there was always something about those initial conversations with Toodee and Brobee that bothered me. At first I thought it was that the conversations were awkward, or that I was still nervous about coming out. But what really bothered me was that sentiment that they "love me anyway."
When you add that word "anyway" to a statement, it implies a "but" at the beginning. There's something that should be, but there is this anyway.
So that means if I tell you I'm gay, and you say you love me anyway, you're implying the real sentiment is "You're gay, but I love you anyway."
When you look at it like that, the whole sentiment suggests that there is something wrong with being gay, and the person giving the sentiment is setting that aside or ignoring it to love you in spite of it. And that's really why I have a problem with "I love you anyway."
Brobee and Toodee are both followers of Christianity. As part of their beliefs they are, according to the Bible, which I believe they both take pretty literally, commanded to love others**. But here's the thing. The Bible doesn't give any conditions to that. There are no caveats or addendums or exceptions. Just... love your neighbor. Love others.
Jesus even takes his "new command" a step further when he gives it to his disciples. He says to love others as he loves them. And I'm pretty sure that the Jesus people follow in Christianity loved unconditionally, right? I mean, I don't remember any parables where Jesus is telling the disciples about some poor gay guy that's going to hell because he's gay. I don't think I ever read about Jesus turning his back on anyone. And Jesus never said, "When you meet someone who's a sinner, love them anyway."
Even if you are one of those people who believes that as a lesbian I am sinning because of the way I was made, my sin should never be a part of my relationship with another person, especially a Christian. Doesn't Christianity teach that my sin is between me and god? So what do you have to do with it? Why is my gayness or anything else any of your business?
See, the thing is, when you tell me that you love me anyway, that you love me despite what your narrow interpretation of a worldview says is wrong behavior, you're being incredibly patronizing. I can almost feel the pat on the head when you say it. "You're gay? Oh, that's okay. I love you, anyway."
I am a strong, independent, proud lesbian. I am not ashamed of who I am, or the path I've traveled to get here. You can't make me feel bad for living authentically. I don't need people to say they love me out of some obligation to their closed-minded beliefs. I don't need to know that I'm accepted for something that's absolutely out of my control.
I am gay. And I don't put any conditions on it.
*Independent Fundamental Baptist
**Leviticus 19:17-19; Matthew 22:38-40; Mark 12:30-34; Luke 10:26-28; John 13:34; Romans 13:8-10; Romans 13:9-11; Galations 5:13-15; James 2:7-9 (from a quick search, but I'm sure there are more)