I think it’s time for me to write this letter.
In fact, I think that this letter is long overdue. I have mentioned my attitude toward the LGBT community in a earlier post on The Peacewriter. I feel years of bigotry weighing down on me. I hang my head low in reaction.
In my home state, gay marriage will never see the light of day. Several years ago, the state of Missouri passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. It passed. My vote was one that helped it to pass.
For that, I am duly ashamed.
To think that I once felt that banning a basic civil right from a group of people based on their sexual orientation garners feelings of guilt and humility.
I did that. I was part of that.
I was afraid of the influence homosexuals had on society. I even turned away a relative because she came out to me.
How could I have done that?
I chose to educate my children at home for nearly a decade in part because someone told me that gays and lesbians were on a mission to indoctrinate the world. I read that idea in books. I read articles online. Just like off-color racist jokes, the ideas were whispered between me and other "conservative" people.
I cannot even begin to tell the gay and lesbian world how sorry I am. My regret brings me to my knees.
I get that when you know better, you do better. But I think that is a cop out. I wonder if a part of me always knew better.
I always knew that it was wrong to discriminate. I was born with that sense. But my belief system gave me the ‘right’ to act out against something I did not understand. So when I saw a gay or lesbian story line on television or in the movies, I could express my ignorance and uncomfortable unfamiliarity as prejudice, loudly, and with disgust.
I take responsibility for my thoughts, my actions, my shame.
You are my brothers and my sisters. You are parents and sons and daughters and spouses and partners. You shop in the grocery store and wring your hands over finances, cry at weddings and funerals, laugh with joy and love with ferocity.
Just like me.
Now that I have seen the truth for what it is, I have a message for people like me. Like the me I used to be.
Err on the side of love. It is about love. Let that be your guide, and the hatred, the misunderstanding, the discrimination will simply melt away.