Not So “Bitter” Old Activist Looks Back
After my last Huffington Post Blog, “Angry Queers” Break Stained Glass Windows, I received this email: “Always enjoy reading your words and hearing your thoughts but sometimes I think you’re trying so hard to make your point that you come across bitter.”
Me, the happy homo, bitter? Corny…preachy…bombastic…boring, maybe, but “bitter?”
Today is my wedding anniversary. How could I be bitter? In fact I woke up this morning celebrating what happened on June 18, 2008 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Who would have believed it possible that Gary and I would celebrate thirty years together or that our relationship would be honored by church and state alike?
Yesterday was Father’s Day. How could I be bitter? Mike texted me “Love you, Dad,” from a location in Hawaii; Erinn and her husband Dr. Terry Rich took us out to lunch; our granddaughter, Katie, gave us photos she had framed and grandson Sean gave us “Grampa #1″ baseball hats and T-shirts. This morning I walked the beach just after sunrise and tonight Gary and I will celebrate 3 decades together with lemon drop martinis, Thai fried rice and a movie. How could I be bitter when life couldn’t be better?
On second thought, maybe she’s right. I am bitter. Bitter, the dictionary says, is “resentment felt as a result of a real or imagined wrong done.” I checked my Thesaurus to see if any of the adjectives under “bitter” describe my feelings after twenty five years working to help end religion based oppression and I discovered that the writer of that email was right. I am “bitter:” resentful, angry, infuriated, irate, enraged, incensed, outraged and anxious.
Resentful that Christian leaders, Protestant, Catholic, and Mormon alike, still warn the public that we are a threat to family and to nation; Angry that holy terrorists on the Christian right are still determined to reverse the rights we have gained, amend the U.S. Constitution, and drive us back into our closets; Infuriated that children who are different are still being bullied and called “fag;” Irate that lesbians and gays are still being rejected by their parents, priests and pastors; Enraged that they are still being crippled in body and in spirit by gay bashers who really believe they are doing God’s business; Incensed that gay teenagers are 4-7 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers; Outraged that year after year our transgender sisters and brothers are the number one victims of hate crimes across the U.S.; Anxious about what could happen to the U.S. (and to us) if the Tea-party types take the White House and the Congress on election day, November, 2012.
I admit it. I’m bitter. However, not just bitter. Once again my Thesaurus filled in the more positive (hopefully) adjectives: grateful, ecstatic, thrilled, elated, hopeful, encouraged, delighted and thankful. Grateful that I’m married to a man who in spite of my failures and broken promises has never given up on me; Ecstatic that we begin our retirement living in a little cottage just blocks from the beach; Thrilled that I have a loving extended family including my former wife and literally hundreds of loyal friends; Elated that my heroes are calling Holy Terror “A consciousness raising, must read book,” (Spong) and “a page-turning whodunit that is both chilling and enormously instructive,” (Robinson); Hopeful that you will forgive me for sneaking in a Holy Terror commercial; Delighted that so many religious leaders, local congregations and even whole denominations are becoming open and affirming; Encouraged by the gains we have made. Optimistic that we will go on making them.
I admit it. There are times when I am bitter and other times when I am almost overcome by joy. I sometimes wonder which emotion will triumph in the end. Tomorrow will I wake up singing something cheery from a Broadway musical or find myself still waving my fist at the holy terrorists on the Christian right? I have no idea.
But in the meantime, it’s hard to stay bitter very long knowing that God created me gay and loves me exactly as I was created. When a holy terrorist waves his Bible and calls me sick and sinful I can look him in the eye and say with certainty: I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation. Try staying bitter after saying that?