An Unlikely Friendship

Last week, I pointed out a moving post from Blogging for LGBT Families Day written by Haley Montgomery, a conservative evangelical Christian who was struggling to work through the issue of marriage equality, trying to reconcile her beliefs with the stories of loving LGBT families she was reading online.

This week, I want to highlight another contributed post, this time from the blog May the Beauty. The author describes herself as “a 6 feet tall, spirited, wordy, loving, coffee serving, cheese-ball. Also known as a Mother, Wife, Partner, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Lesbian, Friend, Neighbor and Christian.”

In her post, she describes a close friend who nevertheless voted Yes on Prop 8. She, like Haley, tries to navigate the often complex intersection of belief, friendship, and family:

Look, I can’t tell you that it doesn’t bother me, because it does; and I can’t act like I’m better than you because I have a friend on “the other side,” because I’m not. In fact I’ve been rather pissy even though we all agreed to stop arguing and start acting like our friendship is worth more than our disagreement. But here’s the deal: we are asking people to take some of their most dearly held personal, spiritual beliefs and set them aside for our sake. Often these folks have had an arduous journey to faith—learning to be obedient to your maker isn’t always easy; we can all attest to that, even if the tenants of our faith conflict. We’re asking them to set aside personal history, spiritual lessons, and family mores—but we’re not asking very nicely. We call them bigots, we refuse to be their friends, and then we ask them to “treat us with respect” by voting for us to marry.

She continues about her friend:

Our friendship baffles everyone . . . including us. . . .

I do not advocate gay people going out en masse and making friends with a conservative in order to Further Our Cause. It’s often painful. Certainly frustrating. And I’m no revolutionary. . . .

Here is what I want for my family: I want us to be respectful, disciplined, loyal and fun. I want to be creative, diligent, and thrifty. I want to know how to set goals and to keep Hope light in my heart. I want my kids to know how to be incredible friends, to nurture heart of hospitality in their home, and to be faithful always to family. I want them to be able to speak openly and honestly about their spiritual experiences. I want their spirit to shine through their actions, and when people who know them open their mouths to describe them, I want them to find their hearts on their lips.

Our friends are models of many of these qualities. They’re extraordinary. This tenuous friendship will foster all of those qualities in my children, and in me. They’re inspirational folk.

So they’re not bigots, and if this were a playground, I’d fight anyone who called them names.

I’m not a advocate of putting another initiative on the ballot in 2010; I’d like to have more time . . . I have so much more to learn. I need to learn to discuss the issue respectfully with these people that I love. I want those conversations to leave us feeling connected and to foster empathy on both sides instead of leaving us anxious, separated and stewing.

It’s another extraordinary piece, and I urge you to go read the whole thing.

My opinion? Yes, there are true bigots out there in the world, and they tend to get the headlines. The great mass of people are not so easily categorized, however, and it is in those uncertainties where there is hope, and room for conversation and change. Whether a California initiative comes in 2010 or 2012, and no matter what issue may be relevant to our particular states and families, we need to start having those conversations.