Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ok, Now I’m Really Confused

My son finally ends his years of questioning and admits who he is and so now my years of questioning begin and I am the one asking who am I?

I thought I knew who I was, but what a difference a day can make. The day that threw my whole life into turmoil was the day I learned my son was gay. Up until that day I thought I was a Catholic, a Republican, and a mom whose biggest worry was paying the insurance premiums on three teenage drivers. But in a matter of minutes, the time it takes to boot up a computer and open up an email, to be exact, that all got shot to hell.

I cannot believe how much impact this event has had on our family, and my husband and me in particular. Absolutely every belief system in place before gay child appeared on scene, now stood on shaky ground after gay child appeared on scene.

The biggest trauma for me was realizing my religion was not gonna work for me anymore, at least not under the current Pope. Yes, I knew the Catholic Church was not keen on gays, “love the sinner, hate the sin” and all of that. But I had Cafeteria Catholicism down pat. I’d just pick and choose what I believed, and that seemed to work quite well until I learned that one of those “sinners” was my son. Learning I had a gay son did not just tilt the scales in favor of leaving the church, it broke them.

I am definitely not advocating leaving the Catholic Church once you learn you have a gay child. I know many people whose children are gay that would never consider leaving the church. I am just not one of them. Where they can still find comfort within, I cannot. I finally had reached my shame limit on living hypocritically. But I would be completely remiss if I did not point out that there are many, many wonderful and brave nuns and priests who are huge advocates and defenders of the GLBT community. They stand up against the injustices and speak out against the current stand this Pope takes. And they do this at great personal risk. To them I say a heartfelt thank you.

Another area in which I felt a seismic shift was in my political views and party affiliation. I had always thought I was a Republican. I am ashamed to say that I was probably in the wrong party most of my entire life, but the worst part is that it took something earth shatteringly huge (for me, finding out I had a gay son) to make me truly look under the hood of this party and realize how wrong I’d been. This was not just the wrong party for me, it was my bitter enemy. I have paid a heavy price for my political ignorance and laziness. I will have to live with my part in guaranteeing my son second class citizenship, passing on an exploding deficit and an environment that may be beyond repair, a judiciary that will slowly erode civil rights and keep the little man little, an empowered group of religious extremists (and I am not talking Muslims) who preach hate rather than love and compassion, and a much more dangerous world than the one that existed before George W. Bush took office. My failure to stay informed and vote accordingly is horrible, unforgivable, and unpatriotic. How many more people are making the same mistake and is it going to take them being personally and profoundly affected by something huge to make them realize the mistake they are making?

I am no longer a practicing Catholic and I am definitely not a Republican. What I am is still a question mark, I am still evolving. I will not allow myself to be pigeon-holed into any one political or religious classification. I will do what I can to make informed decisions. I will always reserve the right to change my mind and no one will ever form my opinions for me or tell me how to think again.

To those who have been doing this all along, I beg your forgiveness. I don’t blame you if you are furious with me.

Final Note:

As I mentioned earlier, I am re-evaluating where I stand in the political spectrum. I am resisting all labels because I do not want to be restricted to any one set of doctrines. But in my quest for answers I did come across a definition by a blogger I read often that really resonated with me. This is Shakespeare’s Sister’s explanation of what Progressive means to her:

“I’ve always found that the unifying concept of all the progressive sub-groups is the very simple statement: My rights end where yours begin. Environmentalists want all manner of industry to be able to do business except as it effects the health and lives of others. Feminists want men to have every opportunity to succeed in whatever they endeavor to accomplish except as it prohibits women from the same. Minorities want the same. Pro-choicers want everyone to make the best reproductive choices for themselves and therefore fight to ensure all those choices are available. Gay rights activists want straight people to have job protections, the ability to live wherever they want without discrimination, and legally recognized unions, and they would like the same for themselves.

On the other hand, corporatists want to be able to have unfettered access to anything that strengthens their bottom line, even if that means other people’s (and animals’) health and lives have to suffer as a consequence. Sexists and racists want to retain the unearned dominance that (many) white men have enjoyed, and one of the best ways to do that is to limit opportunities to white women and all people of color who might challenge the status quo. The pro-life movement seeks to ensure that everyone abide by their opinion on abortion; simply choosing not to get an abortion oneself is not good enough. The anti-gay marriage brigade is similarly not happy with the right it has to be married, but wants to 'protect' that right by denying it to others.

Across the board, you’ll see that progressives share in common the desire to give everyone the best life and equal opportunity. Conservatives view it as a zero-sum game—if you increase women’s rights, you’re taking something away from men; if you grant marriage rights to gays, you’re taking something away from straights. And in some sense, it’s true, but what’s being diminished is undeserved dominance at the expense of others.

Progressives don’t see undeserved dominance as a right. Hence, my rights end where yours begin. Each of us has all the freedom in the world do whatever the hell we please, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon someone else’s ability to do the same.”


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