Yesterday morning, I checked my Facebook feed and found this right at the top:
“Great,” I thought. “I’m sure I’m the ‘certain people.’ What sort of anti-gay misinformation is she posting now?”
Let me back up a bit. Brittany is my cousin. She’s a year younger than I am. We have a very long, very tense history. I was never particularly fond of her, and admonished throughout my life to remember that “she’s family and will always love you no matter what.” Those words became more and more hollow as time went by and I could never seem to find common ground with her, or ways to feel more positive towards her. It didn’t help when she and her mother found religion, which increased the tension between them and my atheist mother and agnostic pagan self. I decided to educate myself about what their church at the time taught about different issues, and specifically went looking for what they preached in regards to homosexuality. What I found wasn’t exactly heartening, nor was finding out for certain that Brittany agreed with the church’s teachings. To make a long story short, it’s been a point of contention ever since.
After engaging in discussion about the shoebat-dot-com article to point out how antagonistic it is and that the statistics near the end are so much misinformation, I received the following message:
Hey I wanted to let you know I did unfriend you and I want to let you know why. It is not because of your sexual orientation or that you have different views from me. It is because I am tired of the fact that the only time you have anything to say to me is to argue with my views and it is hurting me and affecting my health and my relationship with my family because my husband gets upset when I feel hurt. I did try to go to your page every now and then and be positive in your life, but I feel that it counts for nothing. You don’t really seem to like me or care about me and I don’t keep people like that in my nonfacebook life so I shouldn’t do so in my facebook life. I do wish you nothing but the best in your life and believe me I want nothing but happiness for you, but you are not a positive force in my life and I don’t seem to be a positive force in your life so I think it is time to say goodbye and have a good life.
I can’t say I’m surprised. And at first, I found myself apologetic. But the more I think about it, the angrier I feel.
I don’t think we could ever get past this point of contention, no matter what other common ground she claims we share. It’s more than a mere disagreement. The “views” she’s so defensive of denigrate a fundamental aspect of who I am; something that I didn’t choose and can’t change. And yet, she wants me to respect those views. I can’t. I CANNOT. I didn’t chose to be gay, but choosing to hold on to discriminatory views wrapped up in a pretty package of “religious belief” IS a choice, and I can’t fathom why she’s so insistent upon clinging to it.
I appreciate that she tried to leave occasional positive comments on some of my Facebook posts, but those don’t do anything to offset the outright hurtfulness of posting links like that shoebat-dot-com article. She says that my arguing about the misinformation and hatefulness of those articles has hurt her and affected her health because of how upset it made her. I hope that someday she will be able to look back on this and see the irony of being upset because I tried to defend myself and call out discriminatory views and beliefs. Did she ever consider how the links she posted on occasion, such as supporting Michelle Duggar’s campaign of misinformation to strip protections from transgender individuals, made me feel?
Being able to unfriend and remove me and my comments on Facebook from her life to preserve her sense of peace is a monumental privilege that I do not have. I don’t get to click a button and turn off the fact that people in various states think my civil rights should be voted on for approval. That it requires taking disputes about my civil rights to court to ensure that they are protected, upheld, and that discriminatory laws are overturned. That there is a lawyer in California who is sponsoring a ballot initiative to make it legal for me to be SHOT IN THE HEAD because “it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
I can’t get married in (as of this writing) 14 of the states in the US. There are more where I can be fired if my boss finds out I’m gay and doesn’t like it. I could be turned away if my girlfriend winds up in the hospital and I try to visit her. And, obviously, there are businesses that want to fight for the ability to refuse service to me because I’m gay. I have to live with this EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t get to unfriend someone and make the discomfort and impact on my health stop. And, yes, it has affected my relationship with my family, too. My cousin chose to reduce my presence in her life rather than be introspective and affect positive change within herself.
I’m still sorry that my trying to argue against bigotry and misinformation caused her a lot of hurt. But I’m not sorry for arguing. I hope someday she will be able to see how the current struggle for LGBT equality really isn’t a far cry from the civil rights struggle of the 50’s and 60’s, and why the comparison of her “I did unfriend you” letter to a straight version of “White Women’s Tears” (CAUTION: graphic image at end of article) is actually rather apt.
I truly do wish her happiness in her life, but I also wish for her more wisdom.