It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile,
Be yourself no matter what they say
For the last couple of hundred years (i.e. the period where identifiably LGBT people have existed) there has been little let up in the persecution of our predecessors. They suffered executions, chemical castrations, electroshock therapy, imprisonment and public shaming. It is with great relief that I can look back on my life and know that the worst that ever happened to me was a few stones thrown at my boyfriend and I when we dared hold hands in public. Our community, however, was forged through that odd mixture of passion and terror.
It is thus rather easy, even for those of us not personally touched by the persecution of the past, to look at opponents as they lose battle after battle and laugh when they claim to be persecuted themselves. These are people who get rather upset if you even just refer to them as a bigot when they refer to your relationship as "grotesque" or "disordered". So yes, it is easy to mock them.
We must, however, be cautious. On occasion on this blog I warned our opponents that they should think carefully about their actions for they may not like it when their influence is on the wane. But I also have the same warning for those I very much agree with. We must be the better people, the good people, the ones who (should our influence itself wane) will be able to say "We weren't like you".
I remember the first time I walked down the street in London and heard some man screaming into a megaphone about how evil gay people were. It hurt. There's no pretending it didn't. It made me feel deeply angry. But I understood that he had the right to speak freely. So it is sad to see people making complaints to the police about nasty people like Tony Miano. It only helps to stroke Christians already intense persecution complex. So please... stop it. What would have been better would have been to set up a rival speaker right next to him talking of the evils of religion, the hate that is spewed in its name, the harm it does to free thought and free speech the world over. And also point out that cowardice=/="woman".
But saying that it is possible that our opponents may experience injustice does not mean we should accept all their outrageous comments. Orson Scott Card, a US writer and infamous Mormon hater of homosexuals, said recently about the Supreme Court decision on DOMA:
“It will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them.”If I'd been reading that over my breakfast there'd have been cornflakes everywhere as I splutter in disbelief.
Or check out this disingenuous article Can Gay Couples, Too, Live and Let Live?
Our opponents EXPECT us to be better than them. As if they have a right to expect it. I cannot begin to express how infuriating, yet insightful, these reactions are. Those who insult us, attempt to oppress us at every opportunity and who would have us back in the closet in seconds if it was their choice demand that we treat them with the respect they so failed to give us.
BUT. There is always a but. We must meet their expectations. Even exceed them. We must bite our lips, avoid the temptation to enact (quite justified) revenge. We must be the example that Christians and other religious types so failed to be.
As they flail wildly for attention, as their membership dwindles, as their hate becomes manifest we have the luxury of being gracious. If we are to believe we have the right to liberty, then we must protect their rights to it too.
Always remember: Don't be Mary Whitehouse.