Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Puzzlement (11.15.09)

Robert died yesterday afternoon.  Robert was gay.  He lived right behind us.

I find it strangely moving that yesterday was also the day that the last, huge, piles of leaves were collected:  The last Autumn leaves.  Pushed into gigantic piles.  Overnight, just the day before.  Collected yesterday - just hours before Robert's passing.

Yesterday afternoon at 3:00, Robert's life was "collected" by his Maker.  Now he's free.  And the most amazing thing happened.  I say amazing because such a thing has never happened in the neighborhood before.

Last night, the doorbell rang.  It was a young man, house-husband, who lives across from Robert.  He takes care of the children while his wife works.  He'd come in the darkness to our doorstep.  To tell us that Robert had died.  He'd just come from talking to Steve, Robert's partner.  I don't know if he went around to other houses.  But nothing like this has ever happened before.

Later on the phone rang.  It was the old lady who lives next to Robert.  She's a widow.  A few months back she had phoned to ask us how Robert was doing, as the ambulances had come and taken him back to the hospital.  This time she phoned to tell us that Robert had died.  She had learned this.  And felt moved to call us.  Nothing like this has ever happened before.

I want you to understand:  I hardly know these people!  But I did know Robert. 

Robert lived just behind us for a number of years.  Maybe as many as 15.  Steve came to live with him at a certain point.  We'd known he was gay before Steve arrived.  Robert loved gardening.  He loved flowers.  He loved his cats.  And he loved Steve. 

We also have a couple of lesbian couples in the neighborhood.  Quiet people.  Probably 4 doors down on either side - across the street.  Quiet people.  Families, just like everyone else.

Now here's the thing:  You'd think that if such loving and stable relationships were a "bad influence" - then bad things would be happening in the neighborhood.  Just the opposite!  Young couples have moved in and are having babies like crazy.  Many people keep going to church.   Even sending their kids to parochial schools.  Public schools too.  Others just live lives of quiet virtue.  There's a pretty active neighborhood association.  There's a lot of getting together and caring going on.  So much caring that Robert's death is being marked as no other event I can recall in the neighborhood.

So where is the bad stuff that opponents of gay marriage keep predicting?  That's what's puzzling me How come so much good is in evidence?


I have a scientific side to me.  If this were an experiment, you'd be looking for the evidence.  You'd set up a hypothesis - to prove or disprove.  Please... where is the evidence of gay wrong-doing?  Where is the evidence of any harm at all?

All I see is evidence that disproves what the fundies and the arch-conservatives are telling us.  (Sure enough!  Another phone call...)




A wonderful, humanizing insight, Thera.
I have gay family members. They are each far better people than anyone who would try to restrict their rights based on that. And anyone who tries gets an earful, for that very reason.
One is now married - he and his partner live overseas, in a place where the social climate is far more tolerant. The other, they moved to another state, and are working on things politically - and they are both very bright, savvy, capable guys who will achieve their ends.
And we won't notice. The thing about the inevitable entry into full human rights for everyone is that it will be so unremarkable once it's happened. We will see no difference. The sun will not rise in the west, geese will not fly north for the winter, tens of millions will get up in the morning and go about their days with no noticeable difference whatever to any of us.
Possibly excepting the hate-filled bigots, who, in their arrogance, presume to speak for God. And their unhappiness? Well, how about a nice big steaming cup of schadenfreude?
We have two gay nephews. In Spain. Where gay marriage is legal
Spain has just sent Mr. TheraP info about how he can get health a care card, good for free health care in Spain and all over Europe! For nothing! More evidence that where gay marriage occurs, people care!
Thank you for your wonderful comment! :-)
Bad influence in deed.
We are all attempting to muddle through life. Oh there are a minority for sure who seem not to have to struggle.
But most are living quiet lives of desperation. With unemployment really at 16% or even higher, with mortgage foreclosures rising as well as just the fears of foreclosure...
Then we have the normal cycles of life. People die. Babies are born. Children reach maturity and leave home.
Gay or straight, Catholic or Protestant, Democrat or goes on.
Like you note, most of us do not know much about our neighbors. Not much at all.
I am just rambling here, but why would anyone on the block be worried if the man and woman across the street are married or 'single'? Or if two women down the street, living together are cousins or in love?
You tell me Robert was a gardener. Now that might be important to the neighborhood. Gardeners tend to keep their lawns trimmed as well as their hedges, they add to the value of the neighborhood.
We get caught up in drivel. We become concerned over things that just do not matter.
If two people make a house a home. Well that is good for them. And it should automatically be good for us.
Why not?
And if those people wish to pursue government sanction for their relationship, that is even better for us all. It demonstrates commitment.
Commitment demonstrates stability of a sort. And that should be good for us all.

Beautiful comment, dd! And here is another that I just read:
God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.
It says ANYONE!
1 Jn 4:16
Just got off the phone with another neighbor! Here's how it ended: "Ok, let's get together on Thursday... Unless it's Robert's funeral."
This is so, very, very touching.
The "experiment" of same sex marriage is already underway in many countries, with a few states in the U.S. also taking the plunge -
Opponents wish to halt any further experimentation. They are terrified, they assert, about what the results will show - the beginning of the end of marriage as an institution, its loss of stature and respect, the dissolution of family bonds, and the spread of these destabilizing attitudes throughout the fabric of society.
When they say their fear is genuine, I believe them. What I also believe, however, is that they have misrepresented what they are afraid of, perhaps even in their own minds.
What is the true source of their terror? I am convinced that what terrifies them about these experiments is not, as they profess, that respect for marriage will erode but that it will strengthen, not that fewer heterosexual couples will wish to marry but rather more, not that family values will decline but that they will spread and endure.
This is their true terror - their nightmare scenario should gay marriage spread among the states, as ultimately it will.
The results of the experiments to date indicate that their fears are well grounded.
So... they are terrified at being proven wrong!
And if they're WRONG about this, then they may find they're wrong about other things too!
The terror of being wrong....
"When they say their fear is genuine, I believe them."
And I believe my grandchildren are afraid of monsters under their bed, but I don't encourage their fears. The right wing wants to amplify fear, not diminish it.
Too many conservatives quite literally surround themselves with only other conservatives, because they are afraid of hearing the truth.
And by sequestering their personal lives into those small circles of prejudice, they live in denial of the real world around them.
More people need to take the time to know their neighbors, it is one way for these wingnuts to get some reality doses in their insular world(s).
Yes, these people are TOTALLY drive by IRRATIONAL fears!
Fear is a huge motivator. It's not ethical to motivate people that way. But it's endemic among conservative religious and political folk. It seems to lead to a herd mentality. Like lemmings on the run!
The more gay people enter into stable, longterm relationships, buying houses, raising children, living alongside other families, the more even those with their heads in the sand will begin to open their eyes and see the world differently.
In a generation - I bet.
Their leaders, Fred, are not sincere and not driven by anything other than the desire for power. They prey upon those who do fear, and stoke irrational hatred - the kind of thing that results in the death of Matthew Shepard.
None of us ought to pass up an opportunity to condemn those who do such things, including those who stoke such fears.
It needs to be as socially unacceptable to do so as to wear KKK robes and burn crosses*.
* Speaking of which - last time I looked, cross burnings outnumbered flag burnings at least 10-to-1 in the US. Do we hear any of the self-styled "real 'Murkins" standing up in Congress and calling for that heinous act of domestic terrorism to be banned through a Constitutional amendment?
Well said!
TheraP, I don't know about the God thing, but I do know about the "good" thing.
Love is good, wherever you find it. Hate, on the other hand, corrodes and destroys.
Hooray for your neighborhood, and for every other community that is gender-blind when it comes to marriages and relationships.
We have gay family members, gay friends, and heck--I was even in love with several gay men:
Tyrone Power, Farley Granger, Tab Hunter, Rock Hudson. . .
Love 'em all and for good reason.
Yes, "good" is much easier to prove than god. ;)
What's amazing about our neighborhood is that it's a suburb in a heavily Republican part of the county. But for some reason the neighborhood has been a gay-neutral zone for as long as we've lived here - and before that as well. By gay-neutral I mean people just move in and quietly live here. It's an "integrated" neighborhood in terms of sexual preference. I guess once that happens, it just keeps on being that way.
I suspect that's what we're waiting for - as a nation. We're waiting for situations, where "nothing happens" when gay people are living in a neighborhood - and it's just like any other neighborhood. Lawns get mowed. Snow gets blown or shoveled. Leaves get raked. Flowers bloom. Dogs get walked. Cats sit in windows. And it looks just like anywhere else in America!
Hmmm, TheraP. This sounds like the neighborhood I live in already.
And it votes 90% for Democrats. I have no idea who the 10% that vote for Republicans are. They must be the ones in the closet here.
Puzzlement, my butt. You know exactly what it means!
You're right..... ;)
The reaction you lay out so beautifully on the one hand doesn't surprise me a bit. Most folks in our area are good hearted folks with honest Christian values (be nice, don't steal, help if you can). On the other hand, some folks in our area display the shameful anti-Christan "values" of the right wing anti-intelligencia (I gotta get mine before some darkie steals it, hate everyone that doesn't look like me, be afraid). Luckily, the number of good Christians is growing and the number of asshats is dwindling. Go Badgers!
I shake your hand, Buddy! Yes! :-)
They are afraid of their shadow side, altogether, and of their same-sex attractions as sub-teens. There has been so much invective agaionst homosexulity, it was a big Ooga-booga from the leaders of the sexually repressed religious leaders. All the gay-haters who attempt to prove their bias by Biblical text go to the Old Testament. I have a letter one of my clients wrote me when I'd asked her about it. I stuck in it one of our house Bibles, and have to smile when I unfold it. These are Christians; they never can trot out what Christ said against us loving whom we love gloriously and unreservedly.
We live in a tiny town; redneck, really, but the present mayor is lesbian, before her, for 8 years the mayor was a gay man. Often people hate gays 'in principle', but not in fact. Weird, isn't it?
Remember, too, the Old Fart Gay-Bashers are dying off, thank the gods... ;-}
Repeal DOMA, and DADT! Comeon, Mr. President!
"It's been a long time comin'
But a Change is Gonna Come...' --Sam Cooke
Amen, wendy! Amen! Yes, it's so funny that people are scared or full of hatred... till they get to know a "neighbor".
Sunday volunteering - at the Medical Center. See you later... :-)
Thank you, Thera. The ant-gay marriage people just need to be honest and admit what the problem is -- they think gay relationships are icky and they can't get over it. Of course if they just came out and said it that way, especially to the media and on talk shows people would tell them "get over it."
I mean, sheesh, I think soy patties are icky but I can deal with vegetarian marriages. Just keep yer gross soy burgers outta mah kitchen!
hahahah speechless
Thera, it is not you who is puzzled.
I'm a bit too brain-fried from work to add much to the debate at the moment, but I did want to drop you a line and offer hugs, and say that you and your neighborhood will be in my prayers tonight.
We need to hear more stories like this. (Well, minus the sad death.) Maybe then people will start to think.
Well, I give you a hug back! And if neighbors can come together on behalf of the deceased, I'd like to see more of it on behalf of the living!
In a world full of cynics, myself often included, TheraP stands out for being able to find the moments of hope in sad events.
Well, this made me cry. My best friend is gay and did not come out until a few years ago. He was in his early 40's.
It is ok for people to believe whatever they believe. It is not ok to deny freedoms based on your race, religion, political ideas, or sexuality. So much harm has been done to so many. My friend is wildly intelligent and very wise. I am not sure what good has been preserved in a society that made it difficult for him to be who he is.
The best parents I know are a lesbian couple. They raised two outstanding children together who are talented, intelligent, healthy, and productive. They just got married this summer.(in Iowa...go Hawkeyes) Of course their children are grown and gone...
It was a pretty big risk allowing them to marry and I sort of see what the religious right and social conservatives were worried about. They have had so much success at life as homosexuals...I am tempted to give it a shot.
Your words are wise and beautiful.
I too am so saddened when people have felt unable to be themselves - for fear of rejection. Robert was in the military, but likely hid it at the time. So was Steve. The VA provided the majority of Robert's health care.
The most recent research shows gay parents to be excellent parents, as you have seen. Their children mostly turn out heterosexual, at rates that replicate the rates in the general population. And they raise children who are less likely to stereotype on the basis of sex roles.
For some strange reason, unknown to me, I picked up a book titled, The Histories - The Landmark Herodotus. And whenever I have a few minutes in the day, I sit back and read a few pages. It's taken me over a month to get thru the first book - it has nine books and 22 appendices.
What you say about your neighborhood compared with what was deemed civil 2500 years ago by Herodotus and the civilized Grecian culture in and around the Aegean Sea is eye opening. There were far more, what we would call today sexual deviant behavior, being practiced back then that would shake the very foundations of a persons faith today. In short, same sex marriages and relationships weren't even a blip on the radar back then. But prostituting one's children and wives as needs arose was consider civil and appropriate in many areas from Greece, through Asia Minor and into Persia.
There's still hope for the human race so long as we learn from our mistakes. As long as we accept people for who they are, then their personal lives are of no consequence to the community. Personal biases of opinion salt the delicate meat of unity and make in uneatable. Sounds like your community is more salt free of personal bias and opinions than you realized. Congratulations!
You such great points! Very bad to prostitute children and women who were considered chattel at that time. So different from the behavior of consenting adults.
Thank you for that update on history. You never know when something you're reading may come in handy!
Thanks again for weighing in here!
As abhorrent as we find that behavior today, back then they considered it to be civilized. Move up to today, people who are against gays relationships and same-sex marriages and go to whatever lengths they can to put a stop to it, say they're civilized too.
Yup! Like slavery, we simply can't "buy" that it's ok anymore.
Or like science: For example the Vatican's view of gays reminds me Galileo's plight. What pope has to say is simply not reconcilable with reality!
I think many of us survive the current situation by tuning MSM out, and tuning people in. During the Primaries , I was led to hate Latinos/Hispanics/People because people of Spanish descent were too racist to vote for an African-American. I was led to hate Feminists?white Women/People because White women would not vote for an African-American male over a White female, Hillary Clinton. In the end my hatred was wasted because most Latinos and most White women voted for the African-American.
The more I listen to MSM, the more depressed I become. The more I talk to people, the more hopeful I become.
In a media construct, someone has to be a scapegoat for your personal demons. Blacks. Latinos, gays all get fed into the mix as the reason that society is failing. I cannot think of one thing that a Gay person has done to me or my family to make me hate them.
My anger is not directed towards Gays, Latinos, women,etc. I have learned not to hate the MSM which was a major source of my misdirected dislike. I don't hate MSM, I just realize that every utterance that MSM emits that pits one group against another has to be fact checked.
By dismissing much of the bile produced by MSM, I am in a much better place.

Beautiful comment. In a nutshell, the MSM is not really so much a source of "news" as a source of entertainment = dollars. They do the opposite of the single-most neglected virtue, which is "to love your enemy". The MSM serves to create enemies. And the fundies too often go right along with that!
We have many people at TPM, who formerly drank the koolaid! They are some of our best spokespeople for sanity!

Homophobia is just another example of how, as Hitchens says, "religion poisons everything."
People who are religious may "poison" things. Other people, who are religious, better yet "truly spiritual", literally "shine" in this world like lanterns. Look for the lanterns.
When you find the true lanterns, you usually find an atheist. If a religious person is a true lantern, s/he is likely to be so in spite of religion, almost never because of it.
Gosh, you've missed a lot of good spiritual people, apparently.
Peace be with you. Atheism is a belief. Just as much as any faith is.
Sure atheism is a belief. And not collecting stamps is a hobby. Perhaps you would like to elaborate on what you thing my belief is?
I woke up today to the news that it has been a whole year that gay and lesbian couples have been allowed to share the same rights as everyone else in our State. The right to settle down, get married and live as a family has changed a lot of people's lives in Connecticut.
I did a quick inventory of how much my marriage had changed in the last year.
The little things that have always been there, the fact that I still occasionally leave the toilet seat up to the dismay of my wife, or the fact that she still squeezes the toothpaste from the top of the tube and sometimes leaves the cap off, are still there. She still gives me a back rub when I'm sore, I still try to cook the occasional nice meal for her. I still snore like crazy and she still hogs the blankets. We both still get up every day doing what we do for our kids, for ourselves and for each other.
As shocking as this may seem to the far right wing and Christianists that dominated the arguments against these simple and basic civil rights...
Nothing has changed.
All the little things that were always there, both the good and the bad that I am sure is there in every marriage, before this happened are still there. Except for the fact that more people that wanted to get married did get married, nothing has changed. All of those little bad things in every marriage that come with the good? They may pose a threat to some marriages that were already teetering on the edge of disaster. But marriage equality never had anything to do with that.
We need more data like yours! Simply by speaking out, we will create a deluge. And no amount of prayer by the fundies will part the waters!
Thank you for these important facts!
Great post! I have a more complete response and thoughts here:
Once again, great post.
Yes, we are working on two fronts here. One civil. One religious. For the latter, please see a previous post of mine:
I agree that language is an issue. And you can take that idea and place it into almost any argument of the right. They twist language and logic. Continually. Indeed, more and more. To a point where they may "seed" so much nonsense that it will become impossible to really converse about politics in public any longer. The great danger they are sowing is the breakdown of civil discourse and civic trust:
The post above is one of the most important I ever wrote.
Posted by TheraP in reply to a comment from jwalk559
November 16, 2009 9:58 AM | Reply | Permalink

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