…it doesn’t matter…
I am not a fan of Lady Gaga myself, but she has a song out that stormed through LGBT circles, it was latched on to by hundreds of thousands as an anthem that declared that they were okay because they were born that way.
On the other side of the argument are those who yell as loud and long as they can that being gay is a choice, brought about by wrong thinking, sin, bad parenting, environmental factors and the world at large giving people permission to choose.
This is far from the only division in our society. In fact, it seems, we are willing to divide and separate, point fingers, demonize, de-humanize over nearly anything anymore. Right, Left, Christian, Muslim, Gay, Straight, Bi, Trans, child-free, child-having, pro this, anti that…
And, it doesn’t matter.
All the arguing blinds us to some basic truths that should be uniting us, should be urging us to find a way to work it all out. I don’t care if I was born bisexual or if it is a behavior I learned along the way. I’m bisexual now. It doesn’t matter how or why. It just is.
I am a lot of other things now too. I am Pagan. I am polyamorous. I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am fat. I am short. I am beautiful. I am opinionated. I am loyal. I am smart. I am a traveler. I am a fangirl. I am forty two.
And, it doesn’t matter.
All of this describes who I am today, but it doesn’t tell the story of me. It doesn’t show you the journey I took from the little girl raised in a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Upstate New York to the Paganism I embrace today. It doesn’t tell you the struggle to accept I am beautiful, that I am strong, because I don’t fit society’s expectation of beauty.
In short, it may give you a snapshot of who I am, but it does nothing more than label me, to make it easier to pretend you understand me, that you can compartmentalize me based on those labels so that you know whether or not I fit into your definition of who you are, what you believe.
Those labels then give you a way to distance yourself from me. And that distance becomes distaste, becomes disassociation, becomes de-humanizing, becomes demonizing, becomes hatred.
Under all the labels, we all have very real, very human stories. Some of them heartwarming. Some of them heartbreaking. All of them human.
That gay man you’re afraid to sit next to might well be a brilliant pianist, or make a mean cup of coffee, or maybe he’s just back from a tour in Iraq and he needs someone to talk to, or his lover just died in a car accident. That man in the turban on the bus might be rushing to be at his wife’s side as she gives birth to their first child, or on his way to the Mosque for evening prayers, or just coming home from work at the end of a long day.
Think about that the next time you use a label to distance yourself from someone you think you dislike or even hate. It doesn’t matter if they were born that way or chose to be that way. The life experience that brought them to this place in life is not the same as yours, and they have only been able to act and react to what they have seen and known. They believe what they do religiously and politically not to spite you or make your life uncomfortable, but because at some point in their path it was what made the most sense to them.
And yes, that includes fundamentalists of any religion. It includes politicians and leaders. It includes televangelists and missionaries. It includes people with radical beliefs. It includes the polygamous, polyamorous and monogamous, the swingers, the hustler, the prostitute.
Under it all, we’re people. And it doesn’t matter why we are who we are. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an innate part of you or a choice you made. It doesn’t matter if you are a part of the majority or a minority of one. It doesn’t matter.
You are human. I am human. The gay man crying in the back of the bus is human. The Muslim who sits by the window in the second row and doesn’t talk to anyone is human. The preacher having a crisis of faith as he holds a dying child is human. The young black man getting arrested on the side of the road is human. The officers arresting him are human.
Stop making others out as anything less. Because when you do, when you strip away the humanity of another, you do irreparable harm to your own humanity at the same time.