The outside of Asheville City Hall on October 9, 2014.
This is a post I made on my Facebook page a little over a week ago. I figured I might as well put it on here to share with anyone who might be interested.
I’ve been debating whether or not to comment on our state’s ruling to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, but finally decided I would. I wrote most of this simply to coordinate my own thoughts, so it’s a little long-winded, and a bit self-centered, I worry. But stick with me.
I usually avoid sharing my thoughts on political and social issues, mostly because I don’t feel comfortable making statements about how other people should or shouldn’t live their lives. It’s not my place to tell anyone what or how to think. And it would be awfully presumptuous on my part to assume anyone even cares what I think.
Plus, I feel silly weighing in on things that don’t affect me. I don’t have any firsthand experience with the ramifications of any of these hot-button issues, and I’d be naive to think my ideas carried any kind of weight despite that.
I just don’t have any real insight on most socio-political topics, but it’s not because I’m sitting up in an ivory tower. It has more to do with me being a part of what most people would consider to be the most privileged group of people in our country.
I’m a registered republican (not practicing) and a Southern, middle-class, heterosexual, white, Christian male. I sometimes joke about it, saying that because of these things, pretty much everything is my fault. But it’s because of these things that I haven’t had to truly struggle for anything. And that’s not the same thing as saying I haven’t had to work hard for anything – because I have – but the system is set up in my favor.
To add to that, I have a wonderful family who has always loved, supported and provided for me. I’ve never wanted for anything. I’ve lived a pretty comfortable life, even as I continue trying to find my place in the world (and I really hope I find it, soon). This is all to say, I’ve never been denied anything because of who I am or how I live my life.
So who am I to say two people who love one another don’t have my permission to marry? Now, I’m not married. I’m not even dating anyone. But I’ve never once thought about my future and been confronted with the possibility that I might not be allowed to marry my significant other. (Uh, I really hope there’s a future significant other for me somewhere in the world.)
Anyway, I want to preface the rest of this by saying I don’t speak for anyone but myself. And likewise, no one else speaks for me. That’s why I don’t subscribe to any particular political ideology. Aside from the fact that I don’t agree strongly enough with any party’s platform, I worry that by aligning myself with a political party, people will assume that I’m in agreement with anything and everything the talking heads of that party have to say.
So while I’m registered as a republican, I actually consider myself an independent. My affiliation is nothing more than a remnant of when I turned 18 years old and my best friend and I went down to the office of the Buncombe County Board of Elections and registered to vote (and for the draft, I guess).
It’s funny, because there was a time when the both of us were staunch republicans. The kind that listened to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and watched FOX News as if it were the Gospel. But I wasn’t indoctrinated by my family. Sure, my family is a mostly conservative bunch, but they’re not ridiculous about it, and they’re not intolerant. In fact, they’re quite compassionate.
This hardcore republican kick I was on was borderline crazy, and I really don’t know where it came from. I’m happy to report that neither of us (my best friend and me) are like that now. And in hindsight, it flies in the face of who I (think I) am. I can be stubborn and opinionated about certain things, but I’m not a belligerent, in-your-face kind of person. I hate confrontation and avoid strife. One of my core tenets in life is: “Please don’t bother me, because I’m not going to bother you.”
But thankfully, I was just entering college at the same time my political “awakening” was at its apex. And more than that, I’m thankful I was at a liberal arts university. And that’s not to say everyone needs college, but I certainly did. Attending UNCA was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Apart from all the knowledge and skills imparted upon me, I gained quite a bit in the way of critical thinking, analysis and introspection from my humanities and journalism courses.
At the same time I was starting college, I was also entering the workforce for the first time. In that job, and every one since, I’ve known and made friends with people who are openly gay. That was the biggest step in changing my opinion on same-sex marriage – or just marriage, as it’s now known. And that’s why I think – apart from real-life, day-to-day interaction – examples like Cam and Mitchell from Modern Family are possibly some of the best resources available to show, in a way that’s not confrontational, that gay people are just like everyone else. They aren’t boogeymen. They’re real people with real feelings, real love, and real imperfections, just like everyone else.
I’ve never hated anyone because of their sexual orientation – or any reason, for that matter – because that’s not how I was raised. In fact, I don’t remember ever even talking about it in our house. So it wasn’t something anyone in my family, or even my extended family, ever made a point of contention. It just wasn’t an issue. But at the same time, it was just sort of accepted that anything outside the normal man-woman relationship was not considered morally right. I think that’s how a lot of us were raised. There wasn’t any hate, but there was a certain understanding about how things are supposed to be.
I am a Christian. And I’m friends with many people of all types of religious faiths or lack thereof, all with varying beliefs on same-sex marriage. But whether or not you agree with it within a religious context has no bearing on what the law recognizes, because we are not a theocracy, and our governments are not intended to be extensions of anyone’s religious beliefs. In the United States, we pride ourselves on being free, but how can we truly claim this when we deny a certain group of people the love we allow ourselves?
I’ve not written this to change minds or convert anyone, and I’m not going to argue or debate the issues. I simply wanted to chronicle my thoughts and share my “philosophical journey.” I hope I’ve been respectful of all sides and haven’t incensed anyone. And if you made it this far, thanks for reading.