I was born into an east Texas republican family. Staunch conservatives with strong ties to the Judeo-Christian belief system, with my immediate family actively involved in a fundamentalist Christian sect.
I was raised to thank the God of the Trinity, Father of Jesus, and sole Creator for His agape love and endless grace in my life. I was taught to live with kindness and compassion, to treat others with respect and forgiveness, to walk humbly and peacefully, and to vote Republican. My grandmother was named “Yellow Rose of Texas,” she walked door to door with George W, and former President George H.W. spoke at her Yellow Rose ceremony.
Ive grown into an adult who rejects the tenets of contemporary interpretations of Americanized Christianity, I lived openly as a queer person for 5 years before I transitioned from female to male, and I no longer base my voting decisions on family traditions.
Essentially, I’ve turned my back on a childhood that instilled values of goodness and mercy and love and compassion, and I walk an entirely different path than was ever hoped for or expected of me.
But I can assure you this:
Never ONCE has an evening with queer and/or liberal people— regardless of color or gender expression or religious belief— EVER ended with a group discussion that tore apart the identities of those unlike us. NEVER have we finished a BBQ with callous chatter focused on making mockeries of other races than our own, or telling jokes about senseless crimes against disenfranchised groups, or laughing about less privileged persons’ hopeless attempts at qualifying for basic human rights.
NEVER have my godless, liberal, pro-choice, pro-social justice friends entertained one another with racial slurs, racist jokes, verbal attacks on people that don’t look or speak like us.
But I cannot recall a family gathering with my republican, conservative, Christian-god worshipping followers of God the Father (and FoxNews) in which relaxing evenings did not end with at least one horrifically racist joke, at least one jab at an entire minority group, or at least one tasteless attempt at defending their right to claim injustice done to them by minority groups fighting for equality.
It was upon a foundation of all-encompassing love and mercy that my childhood conditioning was built. I was conditioned to make choices (or to NOT make choices) based on the notion of faith in an all-loving God. I was conditioned to think as a traditionally conservative, Bible believing Christian should, and to vote and be political accordingly. I was conditioned to view liberals as godless and unpatriotic and heartless— lost souls, “chaff blowing in the wind,” incapable of sincerity because they weren’t filled with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.
Yet, it is ONLY among my new, liberal, self-created family of my own choosing that true kindness, true mercy, true love is actually an acting force.
Once again, like so many reunions before this, my night ended with roars of laughter at racial slurs, derogatory terminology, cries of racism against white people, and horrific humor stemming from callous deconstruction of identities that look or speak or act or vote differently than those present.
I feel so betrayed and beyond disheartened and pissed off and paralyzed in shame and overwhelmed with sadness and just drained. Because this wont effect me. Their hypocrisy and their hate will never TOUCH me because I have the same color skin as they, and I now pass as male, and I look the part of “the right kind of American.”
My friend said today, “I don’t know how to love people and still cope with their ignorance and mine and speak up loudly and proudly to be fierce and kind and offend when necessary.”
You know, I said nothing tonight. I didn’t even walk away. I have no clue how to be loudly and proudly fierce, and offend when necessary. I just get on Tumblr and wallow in awareness of the hypocrisy and the ignorance and the hate and the betrayal, but when it came down to losing the respect/affection of my uncle who I adore in order to defend my beliefs and my passions and the people I’ve chosen to love, I didn’t budge. I still wanted the affection my family shows me. I hid in plain sight so that I could keep their hugs and support and love. What does that make me.
Really? Because I wasn’t aware that atheists were the ones who couldn’t be trusted to make rational decisions.