The Wrong Side of History

We as a nation, a culture and a society are in the early stages of the climax of the long journey on LGBT civil rights.  The denouement will last for years or decades as it has for the civil rights of African-Americans, but the coming Supreme Court decisions according to most reliable sources are likely to be the bellwether moment that tips the scales inevitably and permanently in favor of equality.

All of the arguments have been made, sides have been long established, and I’m not interested in regurgitating what has been articulated far better than I can here.  I wish to speak only to those on the fence, near the fence or so far back they refuse to acknowledge that the fence exists.

This is your last chance to be on the right side of history.  This is truly it.  Once the mountaintop is reached (always with room to go), once the tide is strongly and permanently turned – it will be too late.  You will have been left behind, and you will never be able to take that back.

This is most specifically directed at those who have a friend, co-worker, brother, sister, son or daughter who is a part of the LGBT community and claim to love this person and yet oppose marriage equality because “every child needs a mother and father” or “the Bible or the Koran or Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard or the magical unicorn that speaks to me in my dreams says it’s wrong or a sin” or even just “the idea makes me uncomfortable” or a combination of these objections and others.

You are being left behind as our society continues to work to enact the concept articulated in the Declaration of Independence that all are created equal.  What you undoubtedly cannot see is that this person in your life has needed you in this fight.  This fight for equality.  This fight for equal treatment under the civil laws of our nation.  Religious beliefs and principles aside, this fight is, and has always been, about not treating any individual as a second class citizen in the civil arena.

There were slaves in every society until someone said they should be treated equally.  Women were treated as inferior until someone said they should be treated equally.  And now, in nations throughout the world, homosexuals and their allies are saying that the LGBT community should be treated equally as well.  You have been needed in this fight, and you have been missed.  Until now.

When, not if, these decisions comes down in favor of equality and create another advancement in civil rights, whether sweeping in scope or another series of steps in the right direction, you will no longer be needed to fight and it will be too late. That friend, that sibling, that child – they will always know that you were not there when it mattered.  You did not fight for them when there was a war to win.  You loved them the way you wanted to love them, not the way they needed to be loved.  Loving someone “in spite of” of something feels exactly the same as rejection on the receiving end.

So consider for a moment in these final days what you want the legacy of your love for this person, and these people, in your life to be.  Are your objections to equality stronger than your love?  Because that is what your actions say to each of us who have needed you through this struggle, and your actions, or lack thereof, are speaking loudest in these final crucial moments.  If you wait until equality is the accepted law of the land, it will not matter that you finally showed up.  Your support will mean nothing because the war will be over.

It is now that matters, more than it ever has before, and you have these final moments and this final opportunity to demonstrate the unconditional love you express in words with actions that match them.  If you really love one of us, or some of us, or all of us – prove it.  Stand with us while it still matters that you do so.  Accepting the reality after the fact is not the same as fighting with us and on our behalf to force change to happen; we may forgive, but we will never forget if you choose not to show up.  This is likely, probably, hopefully your final opportunity – for our sake, for your sake, for the person in your life you claim to love’s sake – be there with us, with them and with all who support equality on the right side of history.

HRC3A

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20 Responses to The Wrong Side of History

  1. notbeck says:

    This is wonderful! A completely different look at the issue with a more loving attitude. Great job!

    Like

  2. Timothy Spruill says:

    Fantastic. I thought of so “many” loved ones as I read these words.

    Like

  3. Bruce says:

    Emerson: thank you for this fresh, but oh so significant perspective. Our pain drips out of your plea for equality!

    Like

  4. Hate and Venom do not accomplish anything nor win any uphill battle against Fear and dare I say ignorance or better yet misunderstanding. This is so well written. From a place of love. Best I’ve read yet, bravo Emerson.

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    • Thanks so much Asher! And I agree, with all the vitriol being spewed on both sides at times, I sort of wanted to look at a different perspective and consider the impact of the aftermath on so many relationships that currently may be conflicted. Thanks for reading!!

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  5. Anna S. says:

    I’m with you! Thank you for continuing to be a voice of compassion & reason, & for raising your voice on behalf of so many that cannot or will not speak up. You’re a good egg, Emerson. And I’m with you.

    Like

  6. Thank you Emerson, this is every thing that I have always wanted to say, but could not put into words.

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  7. Kyle Hayter says:

    This is one of the most articulate arguments for supporting marriage equality that I’ve ever read. I like how you avoided the back-and-forth points that each side of this debate brings up and cut right to the very simple truth that is at the heart of the issue: that if you love someone who is gay, you should simply support them.
    It really hit home to me when you mentioned that loving someone “in spite of” who they essentially are feels like rejection on the receiving end. When I came out 20 years ago, that was the best way my parents had for telling me that they still loved me and it never really seemed like enough. (I should note that they have come a long way since then and have always fully supported my niece, who is also gay.)
    Thank you so much for this article and thanks to Robert Ramon for sharing this on Facebook.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story! And yes, that’s sort of the point I was trying to make, is that so many people who do not support marriage equality say that they “still love gay people” – but they don’t understand how much that still feels like rejection. And at some point it will be too late for them to support. I have a number of those people in my life, so it was to them – and for anyone else who knows someone who needs to hear it 🙂

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  8. Bill Gardner says:

    Wonderful writing!

    I’m posting a link on my Facebook page and quoting you with …
    Loving someone “in spite of” of something feels exactly the same as rejection on the receiving end.

    Thanks for thinking of this, thanks for writing!

    Like

    • That was the seed that started the whole idea for this blog – people who genuinely mean it when they say “I love you in spite of…” – and it’s heartbreaking because they mean it – but usually to the other person – that “in spite of” moment negates the love. And they don’t seem to understand that. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  9. Lisa says:

    I am straight and have had shared my life with many gay friends for as long as I can remember. I’ve sent this link to many people you are trying to reach (most very catholic family members) and also sharing it on my FB page. Thank you for so eloquently expressing something I’ve been struggling to express myself.

    Like

  10. Marc Wheeler says:

    PERFECTION! Thank you, Emerson. This is brilliant… and another example of why I love you and your mind oh-so-very much! I’m sharing this…

    Like

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