I was watching Chris Hayes on MSNBC talk about the town hall he held with Bernie Sanders in a Wisconsin county that Obama carried twice but which went for Trump. One of the questions posed of the audience during the town hall was about political correctness. Hayes asked, “How many of you think political correctness is about how you have to watch what you say about certain groups of people?” Hands went up all over the hall.
Dear Parents of Young Gay Boys,
It’s been genuinely heartwarming to read the stories I see on the Huffington Post from time to time in which you share the experience of embracing and supporting your gay sons. It’s been absolutely mind blowing to read that some of your sons have been able to comfortably identify as gay and share that with you at ages like 8 or 10 or 12. You’ve clearly created a home that is so plainly welcoming and accepting in the eyes of your gay son that he feels no risk or threat in coming out to you. It’s not like that in many, many families.
A number of years ago, the country was in the throes of a bit of a cultural fad. It was those posters, the ones that appeared like splotchy nonsense but which everybody swore if you stared at it long enough in just the right way would cause a three-dimensional image to leap off the surface of the paper.
I tried to see them. Over and over again. Followed the advice of those who claimed expertise at seeing these optical illusions. I wanted to see them. But I never once saw a single visual phantom hovering in space. Not one. So I did the only face-saving thing I could do in the face of a complete inability to experience what others….many others….claimed could be experienced.
I called bullshit.
For awhile now, I’ve watched a number of the videos people have been making and posting for the It Gets Better campaign to discourage suicide among LGBTQ youth. The better angels of my nature tell me there’s hope for the world because of such kindness and outreach.
You see, when I was struggling to deal with my sexuality and the big secret it was in my teenage years, there were none of the resources available today. No Internet to provide access to any helpful information, much less a wave of videos telling kids to hang out.
In moments like those, I feel an urge to contribute to that effort by making a video of my own. I’ve even tried a time or two to organize some thoughts for what I might say. Shortly after that, I stop working on it. I abandon the effort. Why? Because of a conviction that’s so strong it keeps me from continuing.
I can’t make one of those “it gets better” videos for one simple reason. I can’t make myself write the words, much less speak them into a camera, when down deep one message drowns out the whole idea.
It’s a lie.
One of my favorite things to think about and exchange ideas about with other people is the search for a narrative that makes sense of the fundamental nature of reality, one that accounts for the full range of observable behaviors from the physical to the emotive and spiritual. A lot of people have their own take on these questions and I learn a great deal from the rich diversity of opinions about these matters.
So I thought I would share some of my own thoughts, drawing upon ideas that I’ve encountered in my journey and finding a narrative that includes them all in a meaningful harmony.
There’s something I’ve been discussing with people at different times and under different circumstances. Most recently, this has come up in the context of my recent relationship. Since I’ve long accepted that my opinions on a lot of topics make me something of a heretic, I’ll wade into this water and stir some ripples.
Humanity is at a turning point in which many of what used to be dominant beliefs are coming under challenge for the illusions that they are, causing them to fall away in order to reveal a more nuanced and textured narrative for how the world works and how we each work within it.
Usually, I speak of my spirituality in very general terms out of a desire to be respectful of the differences in belief systems of those I make my friends. But this week, as Christmas day approaches, I feel a desire to speak of what this season means to me, not just in the broad spiritual sense of this time but also in very specific terms to me and my life as it is right now.
As many of my friends have come to know, while I profess to seek to make my journey in this life within the context of Christian faith, I’m highly respectful of the fact that others make different choices about spirituality and religion. In terms of the kinds of Christians that most people see and hear or who they have met personally, I’m pretty unorthodox by comparison. But at the same time, and forgive me in advance for the conceit that may well be seen in this statement, I believe that I seek to hew closer to the central teachings of Christ than a lot of people who profess to be Christian.