What do you think of when you’re lucky enough to be on the beach in Florida in March? If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering if you’ll be tan when you get home, you’re wondering how fast the sun will dry out your cooler, you’re thinking how lucky you are to be on the beach. In Florida. In March. The music’s rocking and life is good. Maybe you strike up a conversation and share some beers with others out enjoying the day. That’s what happened last week when my husband and I were on vacation visiting his mom.
The afternoon was relaxing and life was easy. The wind was blowing on an otherwise blazing-hot day. I thought I was taking a break from the news, the world events, and all the political issues that make my eyes bleed and my fists pump like little machines in the air. However, life never misses an aopportunity to test you.
As the sun was slowly setting on another sparkling blue day, the beach-goers were starting to pack up and head out. One of the guys we met that afternoon made a joke about two guys a distance away from us possibly being gay. Maybe they were gay or European or neither. I didn’t see how it mattered at all. Then the other chach-type dude said something like “I don’t care if you’re gay. I just don’t like faggots.” Swoosh. Dum. Dum. Dum. My blood started pounding. A million drums on fire in my ears. I swear I sucked in my breath and the entire universe in one huge throaty gulp. The pistons of my pulse were triggered into overdrive. Without hesitation, I loudly admonished him saying, “I can’t believe you would say that word. That is awful.” This guy proceeded to showcase his stupidty with a statement that lesbians are so awesome because four boobs are cool but the idea of a dick in the butt is so gross.
Now, I have been in this predicament many times before. Well it’s not a predicament. A predicament implies a no-win or hard-to-win situation. Let’s say I have been in this position before. Part of me is imagining beating my head on my beach chair as I cry for the reckless ignorance running rampant in the world. Part of me is imagining bashing his head on that beach chair. But I know from experience that confronting people with violence or feet-stomping or crying isn’t the way to change them.
I know I can’t be preachy. I have to phrase it as a compassion issue. Gathering my thoughts and slowing my racing heart, I calmly say, “Hey man, don’t you wanna be happy? Don’t you want people you love to be happy? Do you really care what those dudes do? So what if they are gay? They’re not hurting anyone.” Of course I went on but in my worked-up state of tunnel vision, it’s hard to recall the exact speech I trotted out. “Those guys are probably on vacation. They’re having a good time. So what if they’re gay. Don’t they have the right to be happy?” I could tell this was awkward for some of the people in our group. Most of them looked away or tried to insert half-hearted opinions contrary to mine. A few looked like they agreed but didn’t think this was the right forum to discuss these things. After a while the guy who made the faggot comment actually said, “Yeah, you know, I think you’re right.” He said that!
He didn’t dismiss me with “Yeah, yeah” and try to walk away or change the subject. He didn’t say we should agree to disagree. He actually said I was right. Sheeeit. OF COURSE I am right. I just am. This is America and we need more compassion. When you’re point of view is the one that advocates for love and support, you are in the right. It’s not an agree-to-disagree issue. The people opposed to my position are wrong, ignorant, mean, shallow, and stuck in the backwoods of an old world. As I like to say the future is a train, and you can either hop on the progressive side and make the long trek toward equality or you can get squashed by the forces of good.