Monday, October 13, 2008

bigots don't read, cosmic lemons, and this one's for the grandkids

I checked my email just now and saw a note from the HRC telling me it's been 10 years since Matthew Shepard was murdered. A decade. In some very important ways, the GLBT community has made critical strides toward equality. But by no means are we equal, so by no means are we done. And if this anniversary marks anything other than a specific tragedy, it's that we still have a long way to go. But we're getting there.

I was a sophomore in high school when he died. That makes me feel both young and old. Especially when this hasn't stopped. You'd only have to scroll back a few months in my blog to see a video of Ellen DeGeneres talking about another young boy who died because of someone else's ignorance.

It seems we only address the issue of hate when something horrible happens. And this isn't limited to the GLBT community. When was the last time any of us had the Jena 6 in the forefront of our mind? Because equality is equality. Maybe that's part of the problem.

At 3:30 in the morning, I don't have a solution to offer America on my blog. I don't think it'd get there anyway, and besides, I'm preaching to the choir. I don't think "God Damn It, Amanda" attracts a silent readership of bigots. Then again, bigots only read one book, a book designed to make people better people. So clearly their reading comprehension levels are a bit low.

I was talking with my mother yesterday about her mom, who just turned 82. She was born in 1926 in rural Virginia and went to college during WWII. And I realized that when my grandmother was born, women had only had the right to vote in this country for six years and going on two months. And now my grandmother is witnessing this election. (And voting for Obama, by the way.)

My great-grandmother was born in 1888. Her parents lived in the south during the Civil War. They had slaves. (Which is a whole other discussion that makes me want to scrub my genes with some sort of disinfectant.)

Then we got to talking about my father's side of the family. I don't want to give the wrong impression -- neither of my parents are racist. But my paternal grandfather was an old-school bigot of the first order. He had some nice qualities about him, and those are the parts of him I remember, because he died when I was 5. I've always joked that he would have disowned me if he'd known me as an adult, though. I said that, and Mom said, "He really would have. You two would not be on speaking terms. In fact, if he were alive today, your relationship with him would be exactly what it is now as he's been dead for two decades. And you would have hated him, too."

Not that that was a surprise to hear, but I'd always thought of it as him hating me, not the other way around. But I really would have. So I've been thinking about it. Does any hate make you a bigot? Is it hypocritical of me to acknowledge that I'd hate him? Because I'd probably hate him the way I hate Dick Cheney, because I theorized and Mom agreed that he'd have tried to use my college fund to send me to some Make-U-Straight camp.

The answer of course is no, because hating bigots is to judge a person based on his character. But also because I'd forgive him.

If there's an afterlife in which some kind of greater truth is revealed to us, which I unwaveringly assert is that everyone everywhere is equal, that no one is better than anyone else, and that no kind of love is ever wrong, I'd have to assume he'd let it sink in and then say, "Okay, you got me, that was my bad, you guys," (because apparently my dead grandfather is in "The Hills: Afterlife"). And we'd be cool. (Side note, if I die and then hear a booming voice tell me that I was wrong and the bible was meant to be taken literally and so that every-fucking-thing ever is an abomination, I'm going to scream "Seriously?!" because I really, really, really, really, really think that would just be somebody fucking with Dead Amanda. And then I will hear afterlife laughter.) If, however, he decided to be a dick about it and refuse the idea that people are people no matter what they look like (how radical -- I must be a communist) then he could go suck a cosmic lemon.

Either way, whether he'd be capable of tolerance or not, as I go down the street in a few weeks and order up some democracy on my blinking Sheetz screen, (with pickles and mayo!) I am going to once again cast my e-ballot for Obama and think, "This one's for you, Grandpa."

But to tell the truth, it's mostly gonna be for my grandchildren.

1 comment:

Scottie said...

Very well put.

Coming from a half-southern upbringing, where my great-grandma hired a mammy to raise my grandmother, I can somewhat relate. Old Granny Myrtle would probably roll over in her grave if she knew half of what I've done...