Letter to My “Enemy”

Letter to My “Enemy”

(Considering the closing arguments presented at the trial of Proposition 8 on June 16, 2010.)

Dear “Enemy,”

You have compared me to a terrorist. My need to hold the love of my life in my arms, in your eyes, is equal to a man strapping an explosive to his chest, detonating it, and decimating a street corner filled with people. You’ve stated that a love like mine could lead to bestiality. That the charming kiss between me and him is equal to a frothy lick from a canine. You claim that as soon as I get a certificate binding me to one man, I will inevitably search for multiple certificates that can bind me to two, three maybe even ten men. My love for men is false enough to be invalidated by the law but is also, somehow, insatiable enough that the law must rush to contain it. (This is equivalent to proclaiming that a monster does not exist, and then insisting that a cage must be constructed to trap this same monster.)

You have said my love is a sin. That me holding his tender hand is equivalent to a rusty knife cutting across a pleading woman’s throat. You think I’m disgusting and perverse. An entire gulf filled with black poison is more appealing to you than me smiling at the smell of his sweet cologne. You have said that I cannot be a good father without a woman. That my tight embrace is only half of what’s needed for my son. That he would be far more complete without a single embrace from any father or mother, than be around the loving warmth of two parents of the same gender.

You say I am stealing something from you. That marriage is sacred and how dare I try to change it. Far be it for me to point out that you stole something from us first. Back when David and Jonathan chose to switch robes between the pages of the Bible, you switched the basic character of love. You proclaimed that love was only for a man and a woman, and threw homosexuals down a man-made inferno. This battle is not new. It has been long running, ever since you forced shut the paper lips of Plato. You have pushed us down, and into hiding, out of fear. Now you wish to drown us out with your vicious words.

You are on the quest to make an enemy out of me.

But you are not my enemy. The enemy of America is, and always has been, ignorance. Ignorance makes us enemies, when in fact we are one and the same. To fight against you would be to fight against myself. Because at one point you were my mother. You were my father. You were an uncle of mine or a brother. You were a friend who didn’t know until I told him who I was. You, my “enemy,” were once my ex-girlfriend, my aunt, my grandmother.  Most importantly, you, my “enemy”—at one point—you were me.

At one point, long ago, I hated myself. I thought I was sinful and disgusting. I thought who I was shameful. I was an embarrassment. I shouted in my head that I was not worth loving and not worth being loved. Thought that my love not only did not exist, but that it was not right.

You want to kill me, or at least kill any worthwhile life I wish to pursue, but you were not the first to wish this for me. I was the first. I thought of suicide and pleaded to God: “Why? Why would you make me what everyone in the world thought was so… wrong?”

I was my own “enemy” once. So, I am familiar with you. I know you fear that a move to marriage equality would go against the will of God. You fear to doubt the faith that has giving you so much strength, stability and hope. A faith that you love and practice with great enthusiasm. I understand. It’s all or nothing. Either He favors the gay man or gay woman, or he doesn’t. And from what you have been told, He doesn’t. So far be it for you to go against God.

But please, if you are a person of faith, although you may not understand gay desire, or believe it to be right, you must understand love.  If you are a person of faith, bring that faith back to rejoicing love. If you are a person of faith, please have faith in love. Have faith that, although you may not understand how or why—love can beat from one heart to the other, regardless of whether either heart belongs to a man or a woman. Please, bring you faith back to supporting commitment when two people seek it. If you are a person of faith, know that your beliefs can only rise higher and rest deeper when they are grounded in the support and recognition of enduring love.  Your faith asks you to be an agent of love at all levels, so please, stay true to this principle, and do not fear becoming lost.

I don’t expect you to know what it’s like to be in my shoes. When your hands wrap around your wife no one yells “Faggot!” from off the street corner. When you tell a stranger that you are straight, you never fear that they might reject you, make fun of you, toss you aside, harass you, or even kill you. When you decide to propose to your wife, you never have to stop, hesitate, and ask yourself: “Should I wait until it’s legal?” When the natural urge comes to your heart, that begs you to become a father to a child, you never have to brush it aside as a near impossibility. You never can imagine how just being yourself could ever cause you so much suffering, confusion, and fear. You would be confounded by the idea that there are masses of people out there who hate you, but who never even met you—and who would much less bother to go out of their way to get to know you. Rushing to hose you violently with their animosity, spit their hatred, shout their venom–at who, you are not sure. Because if they knew you, they would never say be so hateful. If they really knew everything you had really gone through, and are going through, they would never jump the gun and label you, strike down your future into mud. You don’t know what it’s like to be always be afraid about what next new strategy they will use to dehumanize you and make you feel bad for just being yourself.

No. You wouldn’t understand the fear.

Or maybe you do. You’re afraid of homosexuality spreading like a virus. What if I am one them? You secretly ask yourself.  What if my son is? Or my daughter? Or my husband? Or my boss? And if I am one of them, will they love me?  I don’t love them, so no. I don’t think they would ever love me. So better to stamp it out, before it spreads, dig up a hole, shove it in the ground, push it away, resist it. If I do this, you think, maybe the virus won’t catch me, or anybody I love.

But your fear is too late. It’s already happened. Or it will happen. You will confront a situation, even if you haven’t already, when someone you love very dearly may reveal to you that he or she is that which you hate and deride. What will you do then? Reject them? Try to reshape them? Stamp them out? Ignore them? Run them out of the house?

If you run out that person that you love, you will have lost someone who was an essential part of you. And in so losing this gay man or woman who was so important to your life, you will have lost yourself, and thus, you will have become your own enemy. Just as I did. Just as hundreds of thousands of gay and straight people have. If you have anger in your heart, if you are afraid and confused, nothing will make it go away, but with the help of love and an attempt at understanding.

Your laws suggest that you are fine with emotionless acts of desire in the back corners of dark rooms, but your laws WILL NOT stand for public displays of committed love. You are afraid of love out in the open. You are terrified of love that lasts.

As an agent of love, I don’t think you can call me a terrorist—in fact terrorists should fear me. For there is no remedy for love, there is no bomb big enough to stop it, no nuclear weapon large enough to break love, no devious plot, no cowardly act, no diabolical attempt that can crush and obliterate love.  It is love that can bring us up from the shadowy ground. It is love that helps us rise to face the morning gloom, even when our pockets are empty. It is love that makes us laugh even though the future is bleak. It is love that brings us through the confusion and despair, allowing us to land safely on solid ground.

We need more love, not less.  Love is the great panacea. Sex is not. Sex sells. Sex is free. Sex is a Hollywood star. Sex has nothing to hide, because Sex is legal. Sex is no longer the stigma it once was.  The new 21st Century stigma is Love. The kind that’s big, warm and lasts a lifetime. Love is the new taboo. Love is now shameful. Love is something to regulate, to hide, to lie about. Love is something you shouldn’t do because it goes against everything that’s right with the world. Love is a sin. “Please, don’t teach our kids about Love because Love is very very wrong!”

Stop fighting against love. Not only is your battle strange, but as you drag out this fight, you risk murdering many people.

In this, I am being serious. There are many gay men and women who will kill themselves because of the vicious words you use. There are many gay men and women who will be killed by others—others who will find deadly inspiration in your words of hate. There are still those gay men and women who will remain alive physically, but who will die little by little every day as they play the sham—relegating themselves to live a life filled with lies, self-hate, fear and confusion—a life without love. These closeted gay men and women are as dead as those who will kill themselves, and those who will be killed at the hands of others.

There are no words—nor records that were ever recorded—that can illustrate the centuries-long, physical (and psychological) genocide of gay people throughout the history of this country and the world. It is because of this long and tragic history, that gay men and women today are demanding that Love triumph NOW. NOT LATER.

We demand that you erase the hateful words you use, the one’s you shout, the one’s you whisper, and yes, the one’s you write into law and call “justice.” By erasing these words of hate, you will finally put an end to the suffering—both yours and ours. Overturn Prop. 8, overturn EVERY ban against us. We will work, we will serve, we will donate blood, and we will marry.  We demand our freedom. Not a quarter of it, not a half of it, ALL OF IT, and we demand this freedom NOW. NOT LATER. THIS is the most “convenient” time. THIS IS the most URGENT issue. Why fight to preserve a free country if none exists? Make us a free country and we will show up to any fight to keep it free. There is no other time more urgent than NOW to allow a free citizen their right to pursue happiness.

King spoke the truth when he said that equality was inevitable. We are nearing another bend in the long arc of history, and our movement towards this bend is growing every day. If you do not help us now, then be certain that we will rise up and march, until we can lift history upward once more, toward justice.



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31 comments on “Letter to My “Enemy”

  1. Agatha82 says:

    I loved this Ollin, really, and it’s true, the word needs LOVE and LOVE is the most important and powerful force on earth and good for you for saying all this. In the UK, we appear to be a bit more tolerant though we have plenty of idiots like the ones you describe and I totally agree with you, equal rights for EVERYONE because nobody is better than the other person.

    • Thanks Agatha82!

      Sometimes when I think that those “idiots” as you call them start gaining ground, I remember that I am on the side of love. And really nothing can be more powerful can it? Yes, I hear in Europe they are more tolerant, and that politicians separate church and state in their politics, which I think is for the good. Thanks for the support! 🙂

  2. Powerful Ollin!
    I am almost without words.
    When my parents first wanted to marry in the 60s they met so much resistance from their families because my Mum was white and Dad was black, that they left England to start a new life in Canada.
    Up until 1968 it was still illegal in many states in the US for blacks and whites to marry. We see this as a travesty now, and yet still won’t grant the same rights to everyone.
    If we keep standing up for what’s right, there will come a time, soon I pray where we will be ashamed that we did not grant all rights to same-sex couples.
    Until then, we must continue to do our best to love.

    • Yes jenny,

      That’s always a good point to bring up, that not long ago we didn’t allow blacks and whites to marry, which makes it ironic that Obama doesn’t support full marriage equality (he’s biracial!). But I do understand he tries his best. But from my position, I cannot support anything less than FULL rights. I don’t see how they can get away using the same arguments they used for interracial marriage!

      Thanks for your lovely comment and your support! 🙂

  3. katekay says:

    This is a beautiful and powerful piece. Thank you for sharing it–it feels like it comes from your heart.

    • Thanls kate,

      Trust me, I have had moments when I just want to rant and fight fire with fire, but I know that it would be just ineffective. Because I really do think some of these families who are opposed to gay marriage, really are suffering, or will suffer, when a member of the family is gay or will come out as gay. They like to make it a “US” vs. “THEM” game, but it just isn’t the case. Some of these “enemies,” like I mentioned, are probably closeted gay men or women themselves, and are too afraid of who they are. (Look no further than closeted gay republicans who vote against gay rights.)

      I’m hoping writing from the heart is a move in the right direction. Let’s hope it helps.

  4. Ollin. This is so incredibly powerful, that it literally brought a tear to my eye. Not only is it well written, but the sentiments behind it are raw and real. This really touched me, and I’m very glad you had the Courage 2 Create it 🙂

    • Thank you Miss Rosemary,

      Your comments are always wonderful and supportive! 🙂 This issue is bigger than me, and I just know writing about it is one of the few ways I can contribute to this struggle. The truth is, the sea change is going to come when straight people, especially those unfamiliar with gay people, realize just how affected they are by issues like these, even though they are not gay. And brave straight advocates “come out” (just as gay men and women do) in support of equal rights, and come to understand that this cause is theirs as well. Basic human rights are basic human rights. As MLK said, “A threat to justice somewhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

      • Amen! My very best freind in the whole world is gay but does that mean I love him any less or more? No. I love him because of who he is and how much I laugh when I’m around him and how he can pick me up when I’m down. You quoted MLK, I’m going to throw some Dr. Seues at you: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” I know it doens’t quite match the situation BUT it gets the point across 🙂

  5. junebugger says:

    Wow this was really powerful. I had goosebumps running down my arm as I was writing this. Just as the commentator stated above: Love is LOVE.

  6. Barb says:

    Dear Ollin
    Italy being a Catholic country and home of the Pope, we have the same problems with gay marriage – most people are against it for RELIGIOUS reasons. Well, this religion supposedly is a faith of love, Jesus said to love the other like you love yourself, right? Still, in 2000years his message has been twisted and forgotten, and religion has become a source of hatred – that’s why the Catholic Church lost me when I was in my teens. I still believe in equality, love and freedom. But for my very Catholic mum, homosexuality is a sickness and I’m sure she’d faint if I picked up a black man as a husband – still, she (her religion) taught me we’re all equal in the eyes of God!
    I have many gay friends, I belong to some other “outcast” groups (the artists, like you said in another of your posts, and the asexuals, and for this sex-oriented century being asexual is sometimes worse than being gay) and still can’t understand all this hatred for anything “different”: isn’t that the beauty of the world (Italian saying – literal translation: the world is beautiful because it’s various)?
    I’m going to be proud of my being different, I’m sick of trying to adjust to what THEY want me to be! I’m with you!

    • Thanks Barb!

      Does that mean you’re from Italy? I didn’t know that! I guess it’s the same story all over the globe. That’s unfortunate. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject!

      • Barb says:

        yes, I’m Italian and ashamed of it! 😉 Just kidding… sort of. I was born in Italy, but lived abroad for 8 years in French-speaking countries during childhood, which means that I feel “international” more than Italian… and I think Rome is the most provincial of the European capitals! 😦
        Citizen of the World (that one day will lose its borders and rules and money-driven leaders and will live of Love)! 😀

  7. tsbazelli says:

    It is so easy to fire back with angry remarks, but instead you have written with so much compassion. I have tears in my eyes too. The world does need more love, not less of it.

  8. unabridgedgirl says:

    A very nice piece of expression, Ollin. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I can only say ‘WOAH!’

  10. Stirling says:

    Wow, I’ll echo everyone else’s sentiment: what a powerful and heartfelt expression. Very well put.

  11. I really have no idea how I missed this when you posted it (I’m subscribed to your blog, for crap’s sake). UNbelievable. Seriously. I don’t even have words. On two points: first, you’re one of THE most well-articulated people I know, and you never fail to floor me with your posts; second, this is an absolutely gut-wrenching topic for me, and I love you for addressing it. I have friends that were so deeply affected by this before MA came to its senses, and I’m so glad they did.

    Seriously, man, you tell ’em! ❤

  12. Started Powerful, angry. Later, empathy. I did not go beyond the first few paragraphs. But I can see when something is written from the heart (a good one at that)


  13. Oh By the Way

    Religion is supposed to be the most positive thing.

    It is supposed to bring two people together or at least be neutral. But when religion separates two people, drives a wedge, breaks families, creates borders – Then I don’t want religion.

    Humanity before Religion!

  14. […] following post remains one of my most viewed. I wrote it back in June, before the decision was made to overturn Prop 8 in courts. Prop 8 still remains in limbo, however, […]

  15. […] Letter to My “Enemy” {Best off-topic post. But it needed to be said, and you agreed.} […]

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