Love, Actually

After a week in the mountains of Montana with very little cell or internet service, I was greeted with a rough re-entry yesterday as I read report after report of the Orlando, Florida domestic terrorist attack on the gay community, interspersed with thousands of words on the Brock Turner/Stanford rapist trial and sentencing.

My heart physically ached, both for the victims and for society at large. This is our America.

I come from a religiously conservative place and the majority of my family still clings to a “Christian” idea that The Gays are destroying families and tearing the country apart, most still have not accepted Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling legalizing gay marriage nation-wide. Some are actively campaigning to repeal that ruling and do so in the name of God, or of Family, or whatever. To be fair, some have made the leap from this narrow-minded un-Christian viewpoint to a more tolerant stance, and a very few have stepped up to the activist level of fighting for equality among hetero and homosexual humans. Very few.

Likewise, the vast majority of my family and hometown community vehemently boycotted and opposed Target and other retailers over their non-discriminatory bathroom policies, claiming knightly ideals of protecting women and children and ignoring underlying transphobia, hatred, and fear. However, nobly fighting for protections for women and children has yet to move to a place where they want to actively protect their loved ones from rapists and sexual abusers. I mean, in theory, sure, but white, heterosexual, vaguely Christian/Capitalist/clean-cut rapists are beyond their scope of imagination. You know, men like Brock Turner. So the idea of vocalizing disdain for Turner, his father, or the wrist-slap sentence is too “other” for them. Turner looks too much like the guy next door, and rapists living next door is too much to think about. But, men dressing up like women and entering bathrooms at Target to molest their daughters, THAT is super likely to happen.

I realize that not all areas or communities have this baggage in their immediate reality, but I do. And it has been so infuriating the last week or two to see the giant dichotomy between where I am and where they are, to see such blatant hate and prejudice–disguised as “protecting The Family”–flooding my social media feeds. To see dozens, yes, dozens, of people who share my genetics rant and rave about trans-friendly bathroom policies, yet say nothing about someone essentially getting away with raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. To see the same people invoke the morals of God to protest gay marriage, but who nonchalantly “Pray for Orlando” is making my blood boil. Sit down. What kind of “Christian” are you!? Praying for those who are hurt yet refusing to stand up and protect them in the first place is the most hypocritical kind of fuckwit. I suppose it is possible that some who protested Obgerfell vs Hodges a year ago have had a legitimate change of heart and now align more with gay rights groups and are LGBQT friendly, but I highly doubt it.

I have to sometimes force myself to stop thinking about all the ironies and inconsistencies, this pithy hashtag activism with zero action behind it, and–more often than not–using those status updates as a smoke screen for deeply held bigotry and hate, labeled “tolerance” but, in actuality, just straight up homophobia/racism/sexism. I have to force myself to close the screen and walk away from devices or I literally become so upset I begin to foam at the mouth. Ok, perhaps not literally-literally foaming, but close enough. I get agitated, my face and neck turn red, my hands start to shake, my eyes leak, and I either start pacing and yelling at no one in particular, or I get so pissed off that my words turn into grunts and definition-less exclamations of anger and frustration.

The world, ya’ll, is fucked. I see so much hate and fear, so much division and focusing on differences and opposition, and so little value placed on love and compassion, on celebrating the similarities between humankind, and allowing humans to be their own selves.

It is exhausting. I am exhausted.

I do understand that while there is this scary underbelly of fear and hate, there are also beautiful pockets of love and empathy, of genuine caring and friendship. I see both sides illustrated clearly in the current Presidential primaries, and in my (more curated) social media feeds. The friends I have made as an adult hold opinions similar to mine. The strangers I follow online are not bigoted, racist, sexist bastards. Many are activists in their own right, fighting for equality and peace, and I love and cherish them for their views and their determination to not give up the fight.

I often think of the Mr. Rogers quote about helpers, always look for the helpers, they will always be there. I see them, I see you. I see your faith in humanity, and faith that a small group of people fighting for love and tolerance and equality can create nation-wide change. I see you. And I am sorry for doubting, for allowing the ugly fears to get me down; I’m sorry for letting those statements cause despair and hopelessness.

We may be few, we activists, but we are relentless. In the end, love wins. Right? It sometimes seems like that isn’t enough, that it isn’t fast enough, that too many people will be hurt in the interim. But, like all great stories, in the end, the good will conquer evil, the love and hope will defeat fear and anger. Right? Please assure me you believe this too,  that we are not fighting in vain. That eventually  the seedy underlying fear and hate and anger will dissipate, that humans will be safe from each other regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or anything else.

Love wins, right? Eventually, love wins.

Harriet sig

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10 thoughts on “Love, Actually

  1. I am here with you, H. I am so exhausted, saddened and frustrated by this world… but I also see the good people and I have to believe that in the end, the good will win over the evil. It’s a uphill battle (or so it seems) but giving up is not an option, is never an option.

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  2. I am so proud to know you. Thank you for being awesome and thinking awesome things. You are a shining example of the type of person that most (read: almost all) religious people should be. Not judgemental, just open-minded and thoughtful. I don’t know why they don’t get it when it’s clearly so obvious.

    There was a little girl who was a pretty darn good singer. She was on a TV show and I guess did pretty well, and had started up her career doing concerts and amassing fans. Sadly, someone shot that little girl last week and killed her. For no reason. Every picture or video I’ve seen of her shows a happy, smiling girl who was loving life and loving what she did. Her only crime was signing autographs and meeting her fans. For this, she’s dead. Her voice silenced, and whatever talent she could have shared with the world forever unknown.

    This resonated with me more than anything else that happened last week. How dare someone do this? How DARE someone take away the life of someone innocent and happy who only wanted to share their talent with the world? How FUCKING DARE someone think they have the right to do this? I don’t understand this world. Maybe I never did.

    Then someone else shoots up a club. All because he’s a closeted gay and a homophobe and suffers from, not mental illness, but a complete lack of human dignity and compassion. How dare he take that out on other people? What gives him the right?

    This country hurts. It’s painful and embarrassing to be an American. I wish I had an answer. The only thing I feel right now is a numb sense of anger.

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    1. I have had a very long and fierce battle with religion and Christianity…and finally made my peace with a very specific brand of it.

      Thanks for your comments, always,

      xox

      On Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 8:12 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  3. What a well written post, with such well thought out sentiments. I’m exhausted as well by this. Reading your blog made me feel a little bit better.

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  4. I’m lucky in that I am not in touch with (what I am sure are large numbers of) my own family that echo those sentiments, so I don’t have to be confronted with their opinions on a regular basis or try to reconcile familial / genetic ties with such hateful rhetoric. On the other hand, I do know it’s still all OUT THERE, and I get overwhelmed at the thought of bringing a new life into a world like this. Like… what am I DOING? What is wrong with me to willingly send another innocent life into this mess of humanity, that on some days I think is irrevocably headed toward a flaming tire fire of an apocalypse?

    But you’re right: I need to focus on the helpers. Focus on the Jet Blue flight that wrote pages and pages of support and love for the grandmother headed to her grandson’s funeral in Orlando. Focus on the Democrats who seem to finally, FINALLY discovered some vestigial spines and are organizing filibusters and sit ins. Things will change, because they have to. They just have to.

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    1. I think, in many ways, it will be a generational change. It will take MULTIPLE generations before we see true social change in personal attitudes and opinions…and that is sad for me, but also, it’s the most effective change, the one that’s in it for the long haul. It’s slower than hell, but it’s effective.

      xox

      On Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:55 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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