I debated writing this post. Any sort of response to the gay marriage ruling wasn’t likely to win me any friends on either side of the issue, because it’s one where I’m pretty squarely in the middle (as I’ve established previously). Re-reading that post, I find that it still sums up my feelings and outlook well. Gay marriage is legal in the whole country now, and I’ve been watching the outpouring of joy from most of my Facebook feed with a strange mixture of emotions: joy for my friends who have this long-sought for goal, and some measure of guilt for not being right there with them, turning my Facebook profile pic all rainbowy.
(Guilty. That’s a strong word, and I looked around for a different one to stick there, but that’s the closest word I can come to, so it’ll have to do for now. If I feel guilty for not going out there and celebrating along with everyone else, why don’t I just give in, say I’m wrong, and sidestep the guilt? My earlier post (linked above) should establish why, for those wondering.)
At the same time, I’ve seen plenty of posts by other friends. Friends who are very upset (to put it mildly) about this court ruling. And I’ve seen yet other posts by friends who feel bad that they’re being called bigots because they don’t support gay marriage. I can relate to those posts, of course. I don’t think of myself as a bigot, and I feel bad that people might think I am one because of a religious belief.
Honestly, I think I’ve been more on edge since the ruling for this very reason. Every time I see a friend with a rainbow picture, I’m reminded of the fact that I *don’t* have a rainbow picture. And I wonder what those friends are thinking about me when they see my lack of Skittle-iciousness. No one has said one word to me about it. No one has told me I ought to be thinking something or saying something or doing something. This is all a self-imposed mix of feelings. But it’s constant and sort of always there to the point that I’m grouchier than normal.
My knee-jerk reaction is to be angry against the imaginary people who are judging me. (A sentence that might qualify me for psychiatric help all on its own.) I see those “I’m not a bigot” posts, and I want to loudly echo them. But I haven’t. Why not?
Let me set the stage.
I’m feeling self-conscious because I’m in the minority. Many of my friends think a certain belief I have is wrong, close-minded, and petty. I can stand up and say “I’m not a bigot” as much as I’d like, but generally speaking, the only people who have to do that (go around reminding everyone that they’re not bigots) are . . . bigots. At least from a public perception. That doesn’t mean I’m going to switch my viewpoint, but it does mean that popular opinion has decided a view I have is “wrong.”
As I was thinking this through the other day, it dawned on me that this pervasive low level of shame or guilt or self-doubt or whatever you want to call it might in some way mirror (to a small extent) the same concoction of feelings gays have struggled with for decades. Of being continually in the minority. Of having people label you and define you and attribute all sorts of things to you that you just don’t agree with. The shoe’s on the other foot now. How do ya like them apples?
I doubt that statement will go over too well with the people who are against gay marriage, but it’s not like the public perception of homosexuality was peachy keen with gay people, either. It was much, much more severe for them.
Does this mean that I’m going to change my mind? No, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult because Mormons have changed their stance on social issues in the past, and I don’t know if this is another one of those instances or not. The same rhetoric that was used against gay marriage had been used against interracial marriage in the past. Today, I look back at those statements and just shake my head, dismayed my church could espouse those views. (So if they were so wrong, why didn’t God tell them to switch earlier? I can’t help but wonder if the sad truth is that God realized too many members of the church were racist. That to change the views too soon would rip the church apart. Is the same true today?)
Then again, there are other times when the church has held firm in its beliefs, regardless of the changes of popular perception. Prohibition came and went, after all. And it doesn’t matter how much the rest of the country guzzles down coffee, we still don’t drink it. Abortion continues to be an area with a whole slew of debate. Is gay marriage going to settle down into that Cold War status? I’m not sure.
Part of it depends on where it goes from here. When interracial marriage bans were deemed unconstitutional, Bob Jones University (which prohibited interracial marriage or dating among its students) lost its tax exempt status. Could the same challenge be leveled against BYU in the future, if BYU doesn’t allow a gay, married student to attend? I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. But I could see the argument being made. The public perception of gay marriage and gay rights has changed so rapidly, it’s hard for me not to believe that ten years from now, any institution that refuses to acknowledge gay marriage will be labeled by almost everyone as bigoted as an institution that would disavow interracial marriage would be today.
So maybe I have years of this conflicted feeling to look forward to. Joy.
In any event, this post has gone on long enough at this point. I mainly wrote it to try and capture and analyze my feelings at the moment. It helps me to write out my thoughts and look at them objectively. Please keep discussion civil on both sides of the aisle, and thanks for hearing me out.