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Letter: Charlotte Anderson
‘Stand up, be counted’
Thursday, May 3, 2012
I am a middle-aged heterosexual lady. I have not written a letter to the editor in over 35 years, but considering the recent letters I have read, I find that I must stand up and be counted.
Many years ago, I was having a conversation with a handsome, well-spoken man that I had recently met. He was discussing a book on spirituality and made mention of a fellow who was a friend of his. I asked a question — I can no longer remember exactly what — but it had something to do with how he had met this man. I remember the expression on his face as if the conversation happened yesterday. He became silent, wide-eyed and fixed me with an almost frightened gaze. In that moment, I realized he was gay, and he felt that to answer me, he would be telling me more than he thought he could reveal.
Try to imagine a world in which you realize at a fairly young age that you are different from other people, and it isn’t long before you get the message that this difference is somehow shameful or repulsive. Perhaps you attend church as you are growing up, and as you grow old enough to understand the sermons you are confused because while the church is preaching redeeming love, it is also preaching about God’s wrath on the “wicked.”
Perhaps you are a school teacher who loves his or her work. You live with the constant worry that some “concerned citizens” will tell the school board that you are gay, shouldn’t be trusted with the innocent minds of their children, and within a few days, you will lose your job.
Imagine having a partner you love more than life itself, but being unable to do something as simple as hold hands in public — indeed, being afraid to do anything at all that might draw attention to the fact that you are gay. After all, you have already heard the ready and numerous epithets: “faggot,” “queer” — even “Sodomite.” The words have much power to wound, and even if you have developed a thick skin you do not want your beloved partner to experience this hurt.
Perhaps even worst of all, imagine meeting and talking with people who are smiling at you, looking happy to meet you — but meanwhile, you live with the constant, sick fear that if they realize you are homosexual, the cheerful pleasant expressions will melt away and turn into ones of pity or revulsion.
Since we are frequently making references to the Bible, one might revisit Luke, chapter 10. A lawyer asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling him the parable of the good Samaritan — the Samaritans being the despised people of that time. When he ended the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three (priest, Levite, or Samaritan) was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” and the lawyer answered, “He that showed mercy on him.” Jesus replied, “Go and do thou likewise.”