Recently, I found out that two people whom I've really thought well of - one a reality TV star I've never met and the other, a person not particularly close to me, but that I've always known and been fond of - hold views of gay people that aren't exactly open and accepting. One surprised me and hurt more than the other - the one from TV. Weird, right? But in both cases, I feel a little betrayed. Betrayal's not really the right word, but I'll go ahead and use it.
The thoughts appeared, "Who the fuck are these people to say, let alone think, that there is something wrong with me or my queer brothers and sisters? How dare they assume that we're less than, that our lifestyles (as if they're all the same) are perverse or against nature, that the word "gay" is a worthy, suitable insult (really? are you 12?), that homosexuality is the equivalent to bestiality or pedophilia?" Part of me wants to laugh when I hear this shit. And part of me wants to cry. And still another - the largest part, I'm glad to say - understands...somewhat.
Anger came with those thoughts, of course. But really, with coming to see all of our worlds, all of our perceptions as simply the thoughts we think - none of which we originally decided upon - it's hard to stay mad. It's hard to take things like this personally, when you notice that all people believe what they believe and act accordingly, and that it ultimately has nothing to do with what they're focusing on. I can't even stay mad about the "fact" that while even though they're acting out of their conditioning, out of what they've been taught, they "should" choose to see things another way. Yeah, it's fine when they were children, but now they "should" be more mature, more wise - the mind argues. They "should" see how hateful they come across. But how can they? And how can I, or anyone offended by another's ignorance, expect them to see or understand something that they simply can't see or understand? You don't get angry with a child when they have a misstep. You realize they're doing the best they can, and then try to show them another, kinder way.
Since I've come to know what I know about these people, I've been thinking about them, watching them, and trying to see them as villains, fanning the flames, which is flat out crazy. I've been trying to make them wrong. But the truth is, all of their other goodness that I was attracted to and admired in the first place hasn't been erased just because one or two of their countless beliefs goes against what's true for me. Their goodness is still right there, apparent. It doesn't have to be a big deal; they don't have to be perceived as enemies. It's so nice to know that one can lighten up. It's a matter of letting them be where they are (as if I could change that, anyway) and remembering that I'm just like them. I certainly get stuck in judgments. In judging them - or anyone - to be wrong, I'm no better. I'm just seeing them how I see them. And I'd be kinder in the moment if I could. Just like they'd be.
Quoting Oprah Winfrey, quoting Maya Angelou - one of my favorite sayings to remember: "When you know better, you do better." And each of us will when we can.