Here You Go:

The One Where I Come Out… And Say It

June 1st, 2009

Have you ever had occasion to cross a barbed wire fence? Sticky predicament. I’ve done it on Busy Bee farm through the years, tromping through a pasture, avoiding cow unmentionables. Many notable attempts have occurred in the pursuit of a Christmas tree that we were convinced was over in some greener cedar tree pasture. Sometimes crossing the fence just beats the long bumpy ride down the fence row to a just-as-bumpy gravel road, through a gate and back down the flip side of said bumpy fence row. Economy of movement is an essential concept in pasture tromping.

There’s an art to crossing a barbed wire fence. You have to judge whether there is enough slack in the line to allow you to pull the wire wide enough to go through the fence, or if you’re better served pushing down on the top and going over, although your inseam is clearly not tall enough to avoid the peril. After all, a barbed wire fence has barbs.

If you’ve been reading a while, you may have seen me refer to “the blog you didn’t know I was reading.” I say you didn’t know I was reading it because it’s not the sort of blog you might think I’d be interested in, not the sort I’d deem worthy of supporting. If you’ve read much of my blog, you also know a few things about me. I am a politically conservative, white, heterosexual, middle class evangelical Christian from Mississippi.  And, I’m probably pretty close to who you think I am when I write those words.  [Sans a few Mississippi stereotypes. For example: I have a college degree.  I don't work in agriculture. I have wireless DSL in my home and office.  I speak (and write to y'all) with a very thick Southern accent, but usually using correct subject-verb agreement. I have two full bathrooms complete with running water in my house.  I wear shoes on a daily basis.  I don't own a gun which would need to be pried from my cold, dead hands at some point, nor do I own any camoflage. I've never had a mint julep.]

So, the blog you didn’t know I was reading is LesbianDad.net. And since today is “Blogging for LGBT Families Day, I decided to elaborate–something I’ve been promising for a while. Plus, I’m always up for a good post on social justice.

Lesbian Dad is probably pretty close to who you imagine she is–one of those crazy, liberal Californians, Berkeley graduate, feminist, Buddhist, lesbian activist. She’s also a “Baba” of two children and an excellent writer and photographer. She and her wife have one of the 18,000 marriages that were upheld by the California Supreme Court last week when it also upheld Proposition 8.

Reading her blog has convinced me of a few things. So I guess it’s time to come out… and say it.

It’s likely to elicit the same “duh” response of outrage from both the LGBT and conservative reader-types, but I’m sitting squarely on the (barbed wire) fence on this whole gay marriage issue. And, I’m trying not to rip my jeans or anything else while I figure out the side upon which I’m landing. If you’ve had experience with barbed wire fences as described above, you know that when you’re sitting, it would behoove you to get off. It’s uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. The best thing is to pick a side and stand on it. And, that’s what I’m in the slow process of doing.

You see, I’m a practicing (I’m afraid to say devout) Christian. I believe the Bible is God’s inspired word, and is true for always. I believe God is alive, active and cares about the cosmic and much of the mundane. I also believe homosexuality is not pleasing to God. I believe He thinks its wrong, which is why I call it a sin–much like I call adultery, lying, stealing or berating others a sin

Here’s the thing.

In this country, people aren’t required by law to believe what I believe. And, other people don’t think it’s a sin. My faith is big enough to even like a few of those people, even if I don’t agree with the complete scope of how they’ve chosen to live their lives. How do we properly deal with that in society? I know our response to sin has changed in the years since Moses codified the laws of the Israelite’s theocracy. I know that noone was clamoring to stone my first husband after he had an affair. I know noone is running around plucking out eyes or teeth because they’re ticked off. I know God hasn’t changed, but Jesus Himself changed how some of those old laws were executed. When He was confronted with an adulterous woman, He changed not what was accepted by God, but what was permitted in society by the religious leaders. I’m too entangled in the barbs to write an intelligent and well-composed argument either way–hence the uncomfortable fence-sitting.

LesbianDad wrote on her blog (or maybe it was twitter or somewhere else), that “they” don’t know who they’re voting against. Reading her personal story on the gay marriage issue has convinced me that’s true. This issue is not about the flamboyant gay bar scene, secluded roadside parks, irrationally suspected pedophiles, indecisive Hollywood-types or drag queen lounge singers that would prompt a much easier fence jump. No, this issue is about a desire for lifelong commitment, about monogamy. In practicality, it’s about social security benefits, health insurance, school permission forms, powers of attorney, and who has to stand out in the waiting room when a child is born. Yes, it’s about children who go to preschool or elementary school and like PowerPuff Girls and Cars.

I see the joy LD derives from her family every day. I see the frustration she feels about their “legal” status. I see the faces of her children at museums and dance class and home. I read that she sits on their beds after they’re asleep to stare with joy and hope for their futures just like I do. But for time zones, we might be doing it at the exact same moment.

One of the most poignant posts I read recently from LD was after a neighboring school board meeting regarding an existing anti-bullying curriculum that included content about sensitivity toward children in LGBT families. In response to the statements she heard, she wrote that there was “no hope”–no hope that others of my ilk would “see” her children.  And, I had already determined that I would see, that I would choose to look. That whatever side of the barbing I land on, I would do it with both eyes and ears open–not just to my side of the story, but to the side that might be uncomfortable. To look full on into the real “face” of the gay marriage debate.

I haven’t resolved it inside. There it is.  But, I’ve learned this. The “fight” for equality is not what it seems to be, and it’s getting bigger. (Thanks, LD)

I encourage and welcome your disagreements, insights and thoughts.

Related Posts with Thumbnails© Haley Montgomery

27 Responses to “The One Where I Come Out… And Say It”

  1. Dana on June 1, 2009 11:30 am

    Thank you for participating in Blogging for LGBT Families Day, Haley. I appreciate that your post took a great deal of courage. I thank you for your willingness to be open to the reality of LGBT families lives and our desire, like yours, to raise our children with love. I hope that others in the LGBT community do not berate you for your words. We will never gain allies if we do not allow you the chance to take your journey and find your own answers.

    Polly at LesbianDad is a friend and I am pleased she has sparked these thoughts. I hope that you and your readers will peruse some of the other Blogging for LGBT Families Day posts to learn more about the great diversity of LGBT family life.

  2. eyejunkie on June 1, 2009 11:46 am

    Thank you so much, Dana, for your willingness to include my post in your list. My sincerest first hope is to come from the place of respect regarding LGBT families. As I share where I am, I know some of my words aren’t popular ones. But, on the whole, I’m trusting your community. I’m convinced that family conservatives MUST learn to love–yes, and to LIKE–others before faith has any real relevance. To that end, dialog is good. I look forward to reading the other posts on this special day of LGBT focus.
    h.

  3. Kristi on June 1, 2009 11:47 am

    I just wanted to say that I admire your beliefs (even if I personally stand different to them) and your willingness to look beyond them to others. It takes an open mind and heart to do that. Thank you for looking AND leaping.

  4. Polly on June 1, 2009 11:55 am

    Oh, thank you so much. What a beautiful metaphor! Though I grew up in suburban CA, it was more “exurban” at the time, and our backyard abutted a 350-acre cattle ranch. For my first 10 years, it was a barbed wire fence that separated our swing-set and them one-ton heifers. I totally agree with you about what an art form it is, getting over/under/through a fence like that.

    I also deeply, deeply appreciate the painful time you might have, sitting on it. Some — from either side! — may be impatient that you commit to a side, and hop off, quick. I say take all the time you need, sister. If I believe in love, and the power of love, and the truth at the core of spirituality, and the truth at the core of my own family, then I must not be impatient. Even though personally I so dearly want the world to change on this topic faster — I dread (DREAD) the first time I see in my daughter’s face a confused realization about how deeply others despise us, and therefore, by extension, her.

    It’s a standard parental dread about any of the painful truths of the world, I suppose. But there it is. And it feels like this is one we — all of us, together — might be able to influence.

    Thank you again, Haley, for your beautiful post here. I appreciate the complexity of it all; I, too, want to be able to see someone such as you in all your complexity. It would be wrong for me to ask this of others and not grant it as freely myself. I’ll confess to one snag, at one point reading your description of yourself. I thought: “Never had a mint julep? Really? Wow. Learn something new every day.”

    Should you ever visit Berkeley, CA, I promise a very warm welcome, and a proper mint julep. As soon as I figure out how to make one.

  5. eyejunkie on June 1, 2009 12:03 pm

    Thank you, Kristi for your kind words. And, I’m looking forward to taking a gander at your blog. I’m particularly intrigued by the techogeeklibrarian description :)

  6. eyejunkie on June 1, 2009 12:16 pm

    As always, Polly, you’ve given me a giggle. Yes, along with the economy of movement involved in pastures, I forgot to mention that expediency is a grave concern for any situation involving one-ton heifers!

    I’m so pleased to be a part of the LGBT family posting day, although it’s a little scary. I know some of what I’ve written is not what most want to hear. But, the only place we can be is where we are. Regardless, I’m DETERMINED that it won’t be my 3 younguns who put the look of hurt and confusion on your daughter’s face. That seems to be a good place to start.

    Regarding the mint julep thing: In my defense, I don’t have a veranda, so it’s never really seem appropriate :)

  7. hw on June 1, 2009 6:14 pm

    Wow! I didn’t really know where this post was going at first, or really how it related to Blogging for LGBT Families, but I get it now. As I’m working my way through the list this is one of the best posts in a new category of allies or those who are writing in support of LGBT families. This was very thoughtful. Thank you for speaking up and out.

  8. eyejunkie on June 1, 2009 7:43 pm

    Many thanks, hw! Your kind words mean a lot. I hope I can represent the “new category” well. It’s been an honor to be included in the list.

  9. Mombian » Blog Archive » This Is How Change Is Made: A Story from Blogging for LGBT Families Day on June 2, 2009 7:49 pm

    [...] impression on me is: “The One Where I Come Out… And Say It,” by Haley Montgomery, aka eyeJunkie. Haley describes herself as “a politically conservative, white, heterosexual, middle class [...]

  10. Karrie on June 2, 2009 10:00 pm

    Thank you, hw. Your post really meant a lot to me, especially the part where you say you would ‘see’ my child. That’s when the tears started. You hit on my deepest hurt – the refusal from others to SEE my child and to acknowledge that my family, regardless of anyone’s beliefs or opinions, does indeed EXIST. What message does it send my son when his teachers insist that his family is too dangerous for other children to know about? Thanks again.

  11. eyejunkie on June 2, 2009 10:53 pm

    Karrie-
    I really appreciate your comments. “Deepest hurts” are where we, as family conservatives (for lack of a better term) really need to begin. There is no question that (zealous beliefs or not) our words and actions have caused hurt. To be acknowledged is perhaps the most basic of human needs. Excuse my Bible moment, but I’m reminded of a mother named Hagaar in Genesis, whose family had been cast out of the community. God revealed Himself to her with the name Jehovah El Roi. I’m no Bible scholar, but I believe it means the God who Sees. If God is one who sees, then I think perhaps I should be about doing that as well.

    Enough :) That’s a post waiting to be written! Thank you for reading my thoughts with an open mind and heart. I want to do the same.

  12. br on June 3, 2009 12:15 pm

    Haley, Reading this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for struggling and being thoughtful about how the marriage debate concretely affects my kids. At 1 and 4 and living in a big city, they haven’t encountered hate yet, just difference. Maybe critical thinking like yours will bring more of the latter and less of the former. You’ve also reminded me not to stereotype evangelical Christians so quickly, that there’s diversity and independent thought among you. I hope I can acknowledge that with my kids as they learn about others as well.

  13. eyejunkie on June 3, 2009 12:54 pm

    br, I so appreciate your kind words and the respect you’ve shown me just by reading this post. I have 4, 2 1/2 and 9 month olds and it pains me to think of any child encountering hate. But, it’s the world we live in. The best way I can think of to combat that is to choose to engage in that world, to invest ourselves in thinking and seeing. Thank you for showing me that kindness.

  14. Jessica on June 3, 2009 1:38 pm

    Wow. I know this is the internet and we live in different worlds . . . but will you be my friend? I can’t wait to dig around your blog a little more and learn a bit more about you, but I’d venture to guess from my first glance that we share some interests and I could learn a thing or two from you.

    Thank you for reaching out and participating in the LGBT families blog event. It will give so many people a refreshing perspective on both sides of the cultural barbed wire.

    Maybe, with a little time and effort, we can make the grass look greener on both sides, and some of us will go exploring.

  15. Brenda on June 3, 2009 2:29 pm

    Haley,

    Thank you so much for your post. I had to read it several times as I cried through most of it. My wife and I (1 of the 18,000 couples) do not yet have children although we are planning on having children someday soon. What struck me was your honesty, your genuine concern and your willingness to listen and get all the information before making a decision. I know that that doesn’t happen much on either side of the fence.

    For me, the personal piece of your story lies in my parents. They are Roman Catholic, not really practicing or devout but they decided that since it is a sin in the Bible that is all they needed to not recognize my marriage. My Dad doesn’t even want to listen to anyone on the matter. This is what he believes and it will never change. I always dreamed of my Dad walking me down the aisle as he did my 3 other sisters, but it did not happen. That was the most hurtful thing they could ever have done to me. So, to hear your words and know that you are an Evangelical Christian and listening, well the tears just spilled over. Thank you for your post, thank you for your honesty and thank you for listening.

    Brenda

  16. eyejunkie on June 3, 2009 3:22 pm

    Brenda -
    I’m so blessed by your reaction and thank you for sharing your own story. You don’t have to have a same-sex marriage to know that those who love you the most have the potential to hurt you most.

    In hearing the responses to this post, one of the most powerful reactions in my own heart has been understanding the deeply personal hurts that have been revealed. That has to be acknowledged by Christians and family conservatives if there is any hope of relevant, meaningful and productive conversation–and yes, relationships. Bridging that gap can’t be a one-woman show, but I’m happy to throw a few planks across through listening, hearing and shining a light on heart issues.

  17. Jessica on June 4, 2009 1:35 pm

    Hi,
    thank you so much for your words. I’ve forwarded your post to several friends and family members and am considering linking to it from my blog. I’d love it if you’d take a minute to read my GLBT blogging for families day post. I think you’ll be interested in my story and I’d quite like to continue the conversation with you, God willing.

    Thank you for pointing out the barbed wire fence. I think the grass is greener on both sides than any of us think it is. Thanks for giving us a taste of yours.

  18. eyejunkie on June 4, 2009 2:53 pm

    Jessica –
    Thank you so much for your thoughts and your email. I found your comments in the spam filter — don’t take it personally — WordPress Dude is sometimes a little overzealous (as we all are :). I loved reading your post and certainly would enjoy continuing the conversation. You story of friendship has, I’m sure, been hard-earned through much patience and forbearance. Your description of your hopes for your children was very moving, particularly this part…

    I want their spirit to shine through their actions, and when people who know them open their mouths to describe them, I want them to find their hearts on their lips.

    Thank you for sharing the post with me, and I encourage other readers to take a look.

    http://web.me.com/mksouthwell/May_the_Beauty/Blog/Entries/2009/5/31_blogging_for_glbt_families.html

  19. Sara on June 4, 2009 8:10 pm

    I was sent over here from a link at LesbianDad….thank you so much for this thoughtful, heartfelt post. I’ve been married to my partner coming up on five years now here in Massachusetts, where our marriage has been legal since the summer of 2004. We have an 11 month old son. Your post reminds me (and we can all use reminding) that people are so much more than their adjectives, whether they are “liberal, lesbian, activist” or “evangelical, white, southern”. Thank you for your promise to see my family. I promise I will see yours.

  20. eyejunkie on June 4, 2009 9:25 pm

    Thank you, Sara, for stopping by and for your kind words. Indeed, we are more than our adjectives even though they are so often used to limit us. Here’s to a clearer common vision.

  21. BionicBrooklynite on June 7, 2009 2:52 pm

    I, too, found this via Lesbian Dad and want to thank you for this post. I’m not on the fence on this issue, but I know what it feels like to have barbs in my britches, for sure. Thank you for your honesty and your compassion.

    (And you should try a mint julep someday — I certainly gathered enough mint for others’ in my NC childhood to really look forward to my first — but I admit that mojitos taste the way I hoped the julep would.)

  22. eyejunkie on June 7, 2009 10:10 pm

    Thank you, Bionic! I appreciate you reading and your testimony for mint juleps. As I confessed to LD, I’ve never had a veranda. So, I was afraid having a mint julep without one would be some Southern sacrilege my roots hadn’t made me aware of. :)

  23. Aideen on June 8, 2009 10:50 am

    This is a lovely post. I say this as a socially-liberal, theologically-conservative gay Christian: there is a whole lotta Jesus-y-ness in your thinking…

  24. Amy on June 10, 2009 10:13 am

    Thank you, eyejunkie, for this thoughtful, heart-ful post, and to Polly at LD for directing us this way.

    I admire your courage. It’s really hard to be on that barbed-wire fence, and harder to tell people that’s where you are, instead of clamming up until you’ve decided which way you’re going to jump. And you may end up staying in an in-between place that isn’t always comfortable: pulled one way by your religious tradition and your understanding of God, but upholding the right of Americans to believe otherwise and not have any one religion determine our secular laws. Genuinely liking people who you think are sinners . . . well, come to think of it, we’re all stuck with that permanently, huh? In my religion, it’s very important to commit to keep seeing the things that may change our hearts. So another thank you for helping me to do that. You’re adding complexity to my view of conservative Christians, that’s for sure!

    I’m a liberal minister (Unitarian Universalist), and my wife and I are another of those 18,000 couples who added civil marriage to our religious one last summer before the axe fell; I brag about, giggle about, worry about, and post gorgeous photos of our beloved daughter at the link above. And I’ll bookmark your blog, so that I can keep seeing you the way you’ve pledged to see us.

  25. eyejunkie on June 10, 2009 10:42 am

    Thanks so much, Amy, for your kind words. I love your point about sinners. Even the most squirrely folks have to like someone even if its only themselves, and there you go. You just liked a sinner! I appreciate your willingness to get beyond the stereotype view (often rightly applied) of conservative Christians. I’ve been so thankful for so many in the LGBT community who are willing to give me the chance for continued dialog. I look forward to seeing those gorgeous “baby” girl photos. If you stick around for long, you’ll see some of those here too!

  26. Liza on June 11, 2009 7:59 pm

    Hi Haley,

    Like most of the rest of the commenters, I’m here by way of LesbianDad & Mombian, and I want to add my voice to the chorus of people saying thank you. Thank you for being so open, thank you for risking the discomfort of that barb wire fence, thank you for seeing our families, and thank you for considering your faith and the historical context in such a thoughtful way.

    My partner and I had a religious wedding a year or so before the possibility of legal marriage was first raised in Massachusetts. As we planned for that, my most conservative evangelical Christian cousin initially took the path of judgment and rejection.

    Fortunately for the entire family, she was willing to sit down with me, and after a couple of hours of both of us listening, caring, and wanting to “get it,” we were able to reach an understanding. I understood and acknowledged her concern for my soul, without having to share her opinion. And she acknowledged that I was building my family and part of our family, and even agreed to attend the wedding with her husband and toddler.

    And 6 years later, that cousin and I remain closer than we ever were before all of this exploded.

    That long rambling comment’s point is that I think the more of “us” who really try to listen to “them,” the more likely we are to be able to find some room to navigate this high-risk fence.

  27. eyejunkie on June 11, 2009 9:49 pm

    Well said, Liza. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story. One of the great blessings that has come from this post is the opportunity to hear real stories of how the “barbed wire” is impacting other folks. Kudos to you and your cousin for being able to get past the “us” and “them” and on to listening and caring. I’m trying to get around to read more of the great blogs from my new commenting friends. I hope to continue listening and seeing (and speaking) through those avenues.

    Oh, and I appreciate the camaraderie on the summer preggers issue. My 2nd son was a late November babe — much more comfortable than August :)

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