Letter to My “Enemy”
(Considering the closing arguments presented at the trial of Proposition 8 on June 16, 2010.)
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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