Year 2

Two years ago, there was a phone call – “There’s something wrong with your father – his breathing is labored, and he’s not responding to touch or sound,” and then, approximately 12 hours later, he quit breathing. I watched it happen. I was on the phone with my brother, who was incredulous, “Well, can’t you get them to stop it?!?” And my voice – only it didn’t sound like me – “He’s dying…there’s no stopping that.”

It’s fuzzier now. Two years later.

I don’t remember everything like I used to.

It’s been two years, but the anxiety still creeps in.  The sadness started a week before this day rolled around. It’s not as horrific as it was last year, but it’s still there nonetheless. I was told that your body reacts to grief. These “anniversaries” are inside you. You’ll be walking down the street, and you feel something is wrong and realize, “Oh! Today is THAT day.”

So…I knew it was coming. I tried to prepare myself better this time around.

I’ve been preoccupied with this non-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio and the utter lack of compassion I’m reading from those who oppose it. I find myself really missing my dad on this issue.

My ultra-conservative father would have found this type of dialogue so non-helpful.

Here’s the deal: my dad and I never spoke about the fact that I was gay. To him, it was an unimportant piece of who I was. I was smart, and I could make him laugh. These were the important pieces. Who I loved – although clearly important to me – didn’t matter to him. I mean, he wanted me happy, but he wasn’t concerned who was contributing to it. This was true for my whole life. He didn’t want a relationship with my partner; he wanted a relationship with me.

A discussion around someone’s private life didn’t interest my father. Hal Cox, the serial husband, knew he had no business telling people whom they could and could not love. A man who had been married and divorced four times was always so shocked by the discussion around gay marriage – “Let them be as miserable as the rest of us” was his favorite argument. Umm…thanks, Dad…?

Now, two years after his death, the tide has changed. More and more people are talking about “the gays.” More specifically, they’re discussing my sex life. That’s really what it is. The people who are so anti-gay are mostly concerned about the things that happen within the confines of my bedroom (or the kitchen or the couch – let’s face it, straighties, gays are a lot like you.)

My father would be mortified. I am his daughter. Not only did my sex life never enter into his mind, the fact that other people are concerned with it would have made him so uncomfortable.

However, this societal swell of gay talk would have forced us to have a conversation.

I never talked to my dad about being gay because it was unimportant to him.

But who I am is important. And before my father died, I was never able to be fully authentic with him.

While being gay is not something that defines me, it certainly makes up who I am. And while my sex life is not now, nor will it ever be, your business, whom I love is important. Because the person I love makes me better and happier and more open and centered. And really, that’s kind of important. And while it is entirely too sappy – my father would quickly deflect and change the subject – it is important to know about love. Perhaps, if we led with that, we would be less inclined to preach hatred.

ImageSo, on this, the two-year anniversary of his death, I am saddened that he is gone – there is, and likely always will be, a hole in my heart where he was. I know he still sees me as smart(ish), and I probably still make him laugh (and his was a good laugh), but I am also certain that he sees me happy (or gay…see what I did there?) and fully authentic.

It’s Personal.

So, Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor and current media personality, has declared today a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Why?

“The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.” (http://www.mikehuckabee.com/supportchickfila)

As a reminder, during an interview with the Baptist Press, this is what Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A President, said after being asked to address his franchise’s support of the traditional family:

“Well, guilty as charged.”

He went on to say:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Then, in an appearance on The Ken Coleman Show, Cathy took his comments slightly further:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a-president-anti-gay_n_1680984.html)

After these comments, I made a YouTube video. You can see it here.

Today, more than 600,000 people have said that they will support Chick-Fil-A.

I have had numerous discussions with many people recently about this topic – both religious and political. Apparently, you post your thoughts on YouTube and people tend to wanna talk to you about them. Who knew? I welcome these conversations because if nothing else, I’m putting a face on this issue with the people who know me…or semi-know me…or know someone who knows me.

And I will continue to make it personal. It’s hard to be anti-anyone who occupies time in your life. In your space.

Look, I am clear that we live in a very divisive world. It’s the one we have created. “You are different than I am.” “You think differently than I do.” You are “other” than me.”

We use these differences as a means to separate the “right” from “wrong.” If someone is “other” than you, it’s easier to make him/her “bad,” while you remain “good.” These differences help create “normal” or “traditional” versus “different” and “scary.”

Let’s be clear…

Supporting Chick-Fil-A today (or any other day for that matter) is a direct slap in my face. Not because I don’t support free speech – I made a YouTube video for cryin’ out loud ‘cause I’m all for the freedom to express your opinion – but because this is wrapped up in so much more than free speech and the support of the “traditional family” or “Godly values.”

By saying you support “traditional family,” you’re telling me that the family I create will never be “normal” or “good” or “right.” Why use the word “traditional” if not to show how anything else is abnormal?

This is about so much more than marriage equality or chicken. It’s about looking someone –  a fellow human being – in the face and telling her, “You are not the same as me and, therefore, don’t deserve the same.”

Buying a chicken sandwich or those amazing waffle fries (dammit.) today isn’t supporting free speech. You know that. Don’t try to convince me differently. You know that today is not about supporting free speech or Godly values. Today’s “Appreciation Day” is about supporting a business over a person. A person that you have deemed “other” and, therefore, wrong or bad or different or scary.

I share these faces with you.

They are just a handful of teenagers who killed themselves rather than face a world where they felt they were too different to ever fit in.

They are just teenagers.

Not wrong or bad or different or scary. Just kids.

 

I share this face with you. It’s mine.

I love to laugh. In fact, I laugh too loudly when something happens that I find enjoyable. Music feeds my soul. Going to the theatre is the thing I could spend the majority of my money on. Over the course of the last year, I have given and/or helped raise over $20,000 for organizations that help make our world a better place. I have too many dogs, but love each of them. I own my own house and my own business. I drink a lot of coffee, and I love cheese. I have a hard time saying “no” to my friends and end up overextending myself on a daily basis. Daily, I try to make a difference in our world.

These are just some of the things that make up me. These are the things for which I will hopefully be remembered. Note that “being gay” isn’t one of those things.

Enjoy your waffle fries. Or better yet…don’t.

This is personal. I won’t let you forget that.