Leap Of Faith

A Gay/Pagan Opinion 4/07/03

By R. A. Melos

“Why do they hate us? What did we ever do to them?”, are the questions I hear being asked by so many Americans. “What could Americans have done to bring on the violence of 9/11? Why did the UN not support the American action in Iraq? Why did those countries turn on us?”

My God. Part of me wants to stand up and shout at all of these people, the ones asking these questions, and say “now you ignorant bigots, you know what it was like for me to be grow up a closeted homosexual. Now you know what it’s like to be picked on, and you have no idea why they are picking on you. Now you know what it’s like to have friends turn their back on you, when all you’ve ever done is be yourself, and be a good friend. Now you understand what it’s like to be me!”

I’d like to shout that at these people but I can’t because while I’m a gay male, now out and proud, I’m also an American. The hate directed toward Americans is also directed toward me, so I’m cheated out of my moment to gloat, to say “good, now you’ll see how hard you all made it on me.” Instead of having the focus shift to another group to pick on, I’ve been joined in my lifeboat by all those people who hated me and mistreated me while I was growing up, and I have to acknowledge I am part of them.

Ironically they are still refusing to acknowledge me as part of their group. While Americans are fighting a war to win freedom for the oppressed Iraqi people, they are fighting just as hard to deny and oppress homosexuals among their own people.

Homosexuals are still being quietly expelled from the service; the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy is still in effect, as if homosexuality were something of which we should be ashamed. Homosexuals are still denied the full legal and financial rights of marriage on a national scale, and even the civil union of Vermont doesn’t grant full legal and financial rights.

So the hypocrisy of the American crying bitter tears because he is not accepted by the world falls on deaf ears. We don’t have time to care about those feelings and emotions we, the homosexual community, grew up dealing with on a daily basis. The Americans who don’t see the hypocrisy of their actions deserve what they get. Unfortunately we, the homosexual community, are going to have to be bigger than I would like to be, and let them get away with the hypocrisy, and teach them how to deal with the hate, because we are part of the over all community in America.

We’ve got to show those people who would destroy us, who would suppress us, who would oppress us, the way to overcoming the bigotry and hate. We’ve got to be the ones to show the world we won’t lie down and be walked on, or disappear simply because someone wishes it were so. If the American people are fighting for freedom, then American homosexuals are fighting for freedom, and if the Iraqi people are to win freedom, then so are the American homosexuals.

I admit I don’t know how to go about making this happen, when I am still filled with so much baggage from my childhood, so much anger and hate toward the anger and hate shown toward me by society and my so-called peers. How can I be big enough to overlook all the mistreatments, the abuse, and the cruelties? I don’t know if I have that kind of willpower within my heart, my mind, my soul, to be the kind of person to care about my fellow man ever again, let alone now in a time of world crisis.

I suppose I have no choice, yet there are always choices. I could shut myself off from the society that hurt me so much. I like that choice, but it really isn’t a viable option. As much as I loathe to admit it, I do need to be a part of this society, so the only real viable option is to be myself; be out and open, and go about making changes within the society I need to be part of, so I may feel comfortable.

There is always the third choice of doing nothing for either myself or society but that is stagnation, and I’m tired of stagnating. So I must go with the second option, even when the option of shutting off from everything looks so inviting, because that isn’t living and part of being alive is choosing to live and not just exist.

So now I’ll have to turn to society for guidance. This is going to be quite a feat, since it will mean trusting the very people who hurt me for the greater portion of my life. I already have great issues with the concept of trust, and now I must take the greatest leap of faith in my own system of belief and trust people I most of the time despise for the pain they caused me. I’m not even talking specific people, because the pain has become so generic over the years, it isn’t just this person or that one who have hurt me, but the whole of society. Even though I can single out individuals as trustable, this is calling for everyone to trust everyone else.

Who am I kidding? This kind of trust is impossible when it is only one or two people to deal with, so trusting an entire society is completely out of the question. Yet it can’t be, if the human race is to pull together and be the one body, the one world under God, or the Universal Powers, or whatever deity we personally call it.

Okay, I have a grand vision of what could be, and possibly what should be, but first, like everyone else, I’ll have to deal with what is. For today that means just learning to trust the people I already know. Tomorrow, if they haven’t destroyed my faith, or me, I start trusting strangers. One at a time, until eventually I’ll trust the world in which I live. I wonder if anyone else will be taking these same steps?


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