I was at the dog beach this morning and a very casual acquaintance approached me. She said, “I hope I’m not being presumptuous but I thought I heard you introduce your wife to me last week.” I answered yes, and she proceeded to tell me how her niece had come out to her over the weekend, and that the girl was upset that her mother had disowned her. She asked if I had any advice, and truly I didn’t. The niece sounds very healthy and well-adjusted. She is carrying on with plans to marry her partner, and will invite her mother even though the woman has disowned her. I said that sounded like the best thing she could do – live her life with honesty, joy, and integrity. She can’t change her mother, as none of us can change the unfortunate bigots in the world. All we can do is live well despite them. (And isn’t that really the best revenge:)
I find great hope that this woman and her husband are extremely supportive of their niece, and that the girl’s partner’s family (from Iowa – yea for the Midwest!) are also very loving and supportive. There will always be bigotry. There will always be people like this girl’s mom and the North Carolina preacher man. But I see everyday, even from strangers on the beach, that there are increasingly more supportive people. Folks like this girl’s aunt, who takes the trouble to approach a virtual stranger out of love for her niece. Folks like the partner’s family that have welcomed their daughter-in-law to be and are hosting the wedding. Anyone who has ever been hurt by bigotry wants it all to go away. We want to stamp it out and make it disappear. It won’t. As long as there is fear in the world, its cousin bigotry will walk right next to it. That’s the bad news. The good news is, as long as there is love in the world, its cousin tolerance will be hand in hand with it.
So congratulations to this unknown young woman for continuing to love her mother and her partner. Congratulations to this almost stranger for loving her niece so much. Congratulations to the public outcry against that poor, sad preacher soul. And congratulations to each of us every time we choose the high road of love over the bottom road of fear.