A news article struck a nerve with me today. It reminded me of a conversation I had with someone I love very much when I was 17 or so. Bear in mind, I didn't know until years after that that she herself wasn't straight, but it cut me just the same. She was talking about a friend I had from the internet, Will Norton, a man 17 years older than me who was my first adult friend who had nothing to do with my parents.
She said, "You wouldn't care about gay people at all if it weren't for him."
In a way, she was right. God put Will into my life for a reason. I needed to see an adult gay man who wasn't slutty, on drugs, or irreligious for it to occur to me that there were 'normal' gay people. Now, knowing him like I do, I won't say Will was normal. He wasn't. He graduated high school at 17, had a degree in Egyptology, almost became an Episcopal monk, and he used to work for the Pentegon. He wasn't normal by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a member of the same Christian denomination as me, he didn't smoke a whole lot of weed, and he was celibate (due to having AIDS). For me at that point in my life, when I was still hung up on stupid things like 'drugs are bad, mmmkay' and freaked out by sex in general, that was important. He was also HILARIOUS, estranged from his sister and therefore his niece, and needed a young friend to pay attention to just like I needed an adult friend who would listen without judgement.
Still, it stung. She mattered. Her friends mattered. Even if I thought one of them was batshit crazy, he still mattered. I did... care. I just didn't understand until someone showed me who some of these people were.
The Morman Mother in the news article just didn't understand until she found out her son is gay. All of the sudden, the rumors she's been hearing her entire life are bullshit. She suddenly sees. She's no saint for standing up gay rights now---she's just a mother who had her children teach her something about human nature and about God. God who loves her, and loves her son and who is teaching her tolerance. Good for her. She's a good mom. She's not listening to bullshit anymore and she's not caving to the pressure of society to ostracize her kid. I hope it works out for her family.
I know my life sucks less because God put a stranger in it. I'm a better person because of the way all that happened. The world is bigger for having had him in it. I want to think it's better than the one he left. He helped me understand.