I was reading this link from leisureguy’s blog, “11,000 couples later, gay marriage largely a nonevent in Mass.” It got me thinking about a discussion I had with my grandmother some months back when she asked after my friend who’s “a bit funny.” By that she means “in a committed, homosexual relationship.” I had the honor of being there when he said his vows as he was there when I said mine.
She asks after him often, and she always whispers “your friend” in the same voice she whispers “black” when the race of a person comes up. And as a conservative Christian, she does not approve of homosexuality. But of course, she doesn’t completely approve of black people, either. But still, she asks after him. And she has no malice towards blacks. She is what she has been for a long time now, and what she learned to be from an early age. Loving and racist and homophobic and still loving.
She sat me down and we chatted about her cousin, the one everyone in my family knows about and mentions from time to time, the life-long bachelor who was always “a bit funny” and who had this “friend.” And her cousin, the one everyone knew about but no one talked about very loudly, and his friend, who everyone talked about even less loudly, lived together for many, many years. And they took care of each other when they were old and until they died. And still no one would talk about it, and his “friend” was always just a friend, and she thought that was sad. Even if what they were doing was wrong and a sin, it was sad how they were treated.
And then my grandmother told me something about the future. She said in fifty years it wouldn’t matter. Whether it was right or wrong, a sin or a grace, in fifty years everyone would accept it as much (and as little) as they accept blacks today. Maybe grudgingly in some quarters, but still they would accept it. She would be dead, and my parents would be dead, and my grandchildren wouldn’t know what all the fuss had been about. She didn’t know if that was good or bad really. But in her years, she thought it was true.
You see, at the turn of the century, the Irish Catholics were hated, but by the sixties one could be President. In the fifties, blacks were hated, but today one may also be President. It’s been the same groups hating, quoting the same holy books, making the same dire predictions about the impact of “Papists” or “miscegenation” or “same-sex marriage” and how they will destroy our country and our institutions. And it’s the same groups’ grandchildren who don’t know what the fuss was even about.
If you’re under fifty, go watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and try to remember that this was once a controversial movie. Try to remember that not too long ago there were laws against interracial marriage.
I believe my grandmother. She’s watched this play out before, and she knows how it ends, because it’s the same old story. Love will prevail, and anti-love laws will ultimately be overturned. I just hope that we can do it a bit faster this time. I’d like to get through the hate quickly so we can get on to more important things.