Making room

I woke up to this post from my friend Lee Howard that smacked me in the face:

You’ve all been so amazing and compassionate with the massacres at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Paris, and Belgium and places far afield.  … Guess what, it’s generally crickets chirping when it comes to a gay massacre in this country.

That doesn’t feel nice. There are no flag banners or platitudes. Many of you have expressed your anger and love, and I thank you immensely for that, but many more have been silent.

Silent. Let that sit. Think about silence.

The same people who heralded same-sex marriage are now quiet. Why is that? Are we fine to associate with when everything is going well but toxic to associate with when something goes wrong? Is that how it is? A fair-weather friendship? 

Many of you have been wonderful, and you know that. I thank you in a way that words can never convey. A lot of you haven’t, though. So what I’m asking you to do is to check on your LGBT friends. Reach out. Give them a hug. Let them know that you are there as a friend and ally. Any sense of safety we had has been shattered. Blown into 50 dead bodies and 53 wounded others.

I was ashamed that I hadn’t reached out to him. I wrote – Lee, I am sorry. I was so angry yesterday. I expended a lot of energy just responding to stupidity in my FB feed. I should have put more of it into loving the people who are alive. Thanks for pointing that out. I love you.

The Orlando shootings brought out vitriolic comments from people who wanted to blame Muslims, blame Obama. All of it couched in hatred and divisiveness.

What I try to inject into discussions is some grounding in facts – my first-hand experience with Muslims, my online knowledge of what Obama actually said.

But journalism and facts only get you so far.

What matters in the end is that you look for the people you know and tell them you love them. That is, ultimately, what got us this far, in civil rights, in women’s rights, in gay rights.

People looked around and said, “That’s my friend getting attacked. That’s my colleague being discriminated against. That’s my cousin who can’t get married. But I love them.”

That’s what Lee made me remember.

I wrote to my friend Chris Baumann, under a photo of him with his husband, “Love you two. And I love your love for each other. It’s inspiring.”

He replied, “We are pretty normal. As in, so different in nature that we have to constantly make room for each other.

“We sometimes don’t like each other….but our commitment is real, so is the love. So we keep trying…. :)”

That’s the way to look at this relationship we’re all in together, America.

When you love your country and you’re committed to its ideals, “we have to constantly make room for each other.”

Today’s penny is a 2015, the year that the United States Supreme Court ruled that our Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states.

3 thoughts on “Making room”

  1. Well said, on all points.

    With respect to the silence, I was surprised. With record blood donations and public commentary, I would have thought that it was the opposite of ‘crickets’. But social media reality and internet reality aren’t actually reality. If someone feels like they are not hearing from friends, they probably aren’t.

    Also makes me think of the ‘straightsplaining’ problem, i.e. those who just a few years ago would have been completely silent in public now speak out but without any reference to the LGBT+ aspect of the crime. Maybe that’s worse than silence?

    Thanks for making the point about the need to make room for people. This was easier when we lived in small, contained communities, no doubt. Now that we don’t need each other as much, and are more atomized, it seems like we’ve forgotten that … and made room for the kind of competition where making room for someone else’s opinion feels like compromise, or like accepting defeat.

    Great job!

  2. Great job Lisa, and something we all need to act on today and in the future. I have a special friend who has not recently been a part of my life, only because he lives in another state. Uncle Bill will be getting a loving email from me today!

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