Wednesday, March 16, 2011

evolve

People change. It's true. Attitudes and opinions can evolve over time.

And, it is also true that the more one thinks and talks about a particular topic, the more thoughtful and articulate they become. I'm learning, only now, in my forties, to state my position carefully, and to respond and listen with thoughtfulness. Most of the time. When I get pissed off, my remarks tend to be more "off the cuff." That's when I get in trouble. We've all done it. We've said or done things that we regret, we've made public comments that in hindsight never should have been said, or perhaps were said with great conviction, but misconstrued by an audience all to willing to condemn.

If you had met my parents 20 years ago, you would have rightly noted that they were homophobic. The only experiences they had, if any, were negative. It shaped me, and my notions of who I am. Was. But as they grew in their own experience and wisdom, they began to take on a different view of the world. It was not easy to come out to them in 2008, but it was a heck of a lot easier than it would have been 20 years ago. And their growth - the growth of my family as a whole over this past year has been nothing short of astounding. At least for me.

The thing is, I didn't give them enough credit in the first place. I had my own pre-conceived notions of who they were, and how they would respond to my situation. I let my fear shape my behaviour in ways that I truly regret. I made presumptions about them that were unfair and inaccurate. I kept myself emotionally distant from my family at a time when I needed them most, and we all paid for it.

My girl comes to all our family gatherings. We sit together, we are affectionate with one another, and she talks hockey for hours on end with my dad and my three brothers (insert eye-roll here - I am learning to like hockey so that I can get a word in edgewise). It may not seem remarkable to the average reader. But when you consider the leaps and bounds my family, especially my parents, have made, it is truly a blessing to me to have everyone on the same page, and eating together at the same table - well, two, since my family is so darn big that we don't all fit at one table anymore. My sister, my parents, my two married brothers, all our combined kids, and my middle brother, who will be a priest in a few short years. A Catholic priest.

Clearly, we don't see eye-to-eye on every issue. Our predominantly Catholic family likely has opinions on the subject of same-sex marriage that I definitely do not share. But I am free to state my opinions as they are free to voice theirs. Do I like their opinions? No, but if I want to be heard, I also need to listen. And understand that if I am persistent, peaceful and loving, their ideas about marriage may shift and evolve, just by being exposed to a different way of looking at the world.

Almost four years ago, I made a decision to have surgery, that permanently altered my appearance. I lost 120 pounds in a little over a year. People didn't recognize me. Some days I didn't recognize myself. But when I looked in the mirror, I thought "this is who I was always meant to be." It's a small thing, weight-loss surgery, compared to other life-altering decisions that people make every day. I really wasn't prepared for the reaction that some people had, upon learning how I had lost my weight. As though I had somehow cheated nature, just because I relied on surgery to restore my health.

The funny thing is, I reacted in very much the same way to someone else's weight loss surgery, once upon a time.

I know, I know, it's taking me a long time to get to the point. I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately, and I've come to realize something important. There are lots of things that divide humans from one another. A good friend of mine is hurting, because of how she is perceived, based on media reports and quotes that were made several years ago, that have been requoted, reposted, and taken out of context. The internet is an excellent medium, but it's also a great place for people to spread their own brand of negativity. People will say things online, and in email that they would never say, or perhaps say very differently, if they could just look each other in the eye and have a conversation.

I don't think I'm done with this topic. I'd intended to stew a little bit more over my words, but I'm feeling a bit impatient today. Perhaps I will get more specific in the coming days, but I hope I can remain concise, articulate and respectful. This is enough for now. I had a long weekend with little sleep, during which I started writing my first novel, attended a kick-ass concert and made plans to potentially record a CD. You all think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

ETA: I'm updating my post a wee bit to include some specifics. My friend B has been dogging accusations of transphobia for years. I've sat across a kitchen table from her, looked her in the eyes, and witnessed the hurt and pain that she has endured. You can read her statement here.

There is enough true hatred in the world. Let's not create divisions where they don't need to exist.
As usual, Amy says it best:

4 comments:

Zebsmom said...

You are lucky to have a family that was so supportive and you allowed yourself to nuzzle into it. It helps when you have a partner who is comfortable with herself and her outness enought to put everyone else at ease when she is around.
I remember when I first moved to Texas to live with my partner, her parents were not comfortable at all. They said that they would be willing to give it a chance, but we were not to be physical at all in their presence....that was difficult, and not fair but none the less we did what they asked to make them more comfortable.
I think the whole world is becoming more comfortable with homosexuality, and that is a good thing.
I think I am the only gay person I know that does not exactly agree with gay "marriage" but to each their own.

MakingSpace said...

I look forward to more on this topic. It's one where I'm shifting my energy right now. Though I find myself shifting in a different direction - looking directly to folks who offer support, while distancing myself from folks whose support I thought I needed (especially when they could not provide it). It's a matter of releasing as well as welcoming.

Say more when you're ready, this is great food for thought - and for the heart.

~~kym~~ said...

What a wonderful post...your moving in such a wonderful direction.
Much happiness to you!

Solo said...

It seems like only last week that I read your blog for the first time. I never tire of your posts and always seem to come away with something positive.

Thanks, Camlin, for still being here. I, also, look forward to the continuation of this post.