Home > General > Dear Homophobic Woman on the Second Row…

Dear Homophobic Woman on the Second Row…

September 29, 2012

Dear Homophobic Woman on the Second Row:

Last night, when I drove from my home in Atlanta to a small town on the outer edge of Metro Atlanta, to see a play that revolved around a gay male love story, I have to admit I was a bit concerned about how it would be received by the audience, and how hospitable an environment it would be for me, a gay man. Overall, I’m happy to report that the people attending this production were quite respectful, and I give kudos to the theatre company for having produced a high quality play. Sure…there were a couple of gasps from a small percentage of the people in the room when the two male leads kissed for the first time, but some of those people trudged through that initial shock to maybe have their minds opened a little by realizing that these characters were two human beings who were falling in love, like any other two human beings, with emotions, needs, desires, dreams, and souls, who’ve fallen in love countless times throughout human history. So overall, I was encouraged that the level of acceptance and tolerance was so high, even in the face of what may have been discomfort with the unfamiliar, or maybe even disagreement of some of your fellow audience members with the acceptability of something they had long been taught was unacceptable. That’s the memory of last night I would like to stick with me.

Unfortunately, what has stuck with me, at least today, was your behavior.

You see, I drove two hours in terrible traffic after a long week at work to enjoy a Friday evening supporting a theatre, in what I assume is your hometown, and see a play I really wanted to see. Believe it or not, I’m an attorney, active in my church, a volunteer with some local charities, and a pretty decent guy. I could be your son, your nephew, the single man next to you in the pew on Sunday, or any variety of other people you encounter in your daily life whom I presume you wouldn’t dream of offending or being hateful towards. Yet someway, somehow, when these two male characters in the play held each other and spoke the dreams they had of a life together, and kissed and began to move towards intimacy, you felt it okay to vocally speak out in the middle of the production these actors worked so hard to entertain us with on a Friday evening, and let those of us within ear shot of you know how this was “ridiculous” and made you sick, and how you were about to walk out of the theatre.

I hope you realize that when you spoke these words, you were not simply condemning what was happening on that stage, but you were condemning me, that sweet young closeted teenager on the row behind you who may bag your groceries each weekend, many of my friends, many of those I have loved and love, and quite frankly, if statistics bear out (as they usually do), many of those YOU have loved and love, even if they understandably haven’t shared this part of themselves with you. There’s the common sense side of this – in that you had to have known the play was about a gay love story (Lord knows it was in all the promotional materials and the playbill), and if you’re going to attend, you really shouldn’t be shocked when the play was, well, what they said it was going to be, and that knowing that going in, you should have had the good sense and decency to keep your mouth shut. But there’s also the deeper sentiment behind what you said. I’m not sure what about two men falling in love or being intimate makes you sick, but I can kind of imagine. You see, if I think too hard about your lady parts, I’d probably start to dry heave, too. I was born hard-wired that way pretty much like you were born straight. So you know what I don’t do? I don’t think too hard about it. But that doesn’t mean I think some man (or woman) isn’t entitled to find you to be a real catch. I hope he’ll be there for you in sickness and in health, through the trials of life and the happy times. In that vein, I also won’t be marrying/dating/having any kind of romantic relationship with a woman anytime soon, and I’d kindly suggest that if homosexuality is as repulsive to you as you indicated to half the theatre it is, that you not try lesbianism anytime soon. And, if the idea of gay people offends you so badly that you can’t look past a sexual attraction that’s not your cup of tea to appreciate a love story between two people who are different from you, you might not want to come to the play. It’s really that simple. Straight romance isn’t my thing. I avoid it (though I can get past my personal distaste for it to enjoy a lovely play or movie about a man and a woman falling in love). And you should avoid gay romance if it isn’t your thing, too. Live and let live, you know? And don’t be a jackass to those who are different from you in the process.

But… (and yes, I’m making some assumptions here, but having grown up in this area, I’m pretty sure I’m not too far off the mark)… I have a sneaking feeling you wouldn’t be able to stop there. You’d probably throw up some tired old argument about God, the Bible, homosexuality being morally wrong, etc., all leading to a conclusion that I shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and if you had your druthers, probably not even live as I would like at all. With all due respect… YAWN. As I mentioned earlier, I too am a Christian, and the Christ and true Christians I know and love are concerned about kindness, loving your neighbor as yourself, and building others up instead of tearing them down. The Christ I know said exactly nothing about homosexuality. But bigots past and present, like you, have taken the Bible and its message of love and acceptance and perverted it through the years in ways that have oppressed and inflicted harm upon various and sundry groups, including slaves, women, non-Christians, and homosexuals. These arguments embarrass me as a Christian, and they leave me heartbroken for members of all of these groups who have experienced this hypocrisy and hatred, coming from the very organization that should be filling people with love and extending grace. Furthermore, I bet you get all fired up about how our agenda shouldn’t be pushed on you. Here’s the thing: it’s not. My being able to someday marry a man I love, thus being able to file joint tax returns, make medical decisions for one another when we’re old and sick, ensure we can support each other financially in death, etc., really pushes nothing on you whatsoever. You saying I can’t do these things is actually quite the reverse. It’s you pushing a religious agenda upon me and countless other Americans.

So even though you may not have realized it, your comments brought back memories of being made to feel “less than” last night (something I got past long ago). I hope that’s not something you did intentionally. And even though I was relieved you left the show during intermission (in a vocal protest), I do kind of wish you had let your mind open up to something new. I’d ask you simply, even if you do disagree with me, to let me live free of a religious agenda I do not share (even though I am a man of faith), and to please have the courtesy to keep those opinions to yourself. And if your grandson, or nephew, or close friend, or the guy you really like who works at your favorite bakery does work up the courage to come out to you someday, send me a note and we can have coffee. I’d be happy to see someone open their heart to change and help along the way.

Very Sincerely,

The Gay Guy Sitting with His Female Best Friend on The Front Row to Your Right Whom You Probably Thought Was Straight

  1. September 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Much love to you.

  2. JAM-in-ATL
    September 30, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    I am sorry that this lady (a term I’ll use loosely) and her rudeness has stuck with you today. As I was the friend who was with you, I agree that she was hateful and obnoxious. I take some small amount of comfort however in that fact that her comments, especially in light of the setting and the support of the rest of the audience was, served only to show how ridiculous her hatefulness really was and was truly no reflection on the play, gays or anyone else and I am thankful that with each passing day, even in small towns in the south, she is becoming a part of an ever diminishing minority of people who cannot get past whatever ignorance or personal insecurities it is that makes people hate others who are different from themselves. I wonder how she’ll feel when she’s the one who’s marginalized because of her “values” (another term I’ll use loosely)?

  3. September 30, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I’m sorry you had to experience that, and I’m having trouble understanding why she was even there in the first place. You handled it a lot better than I probably would have though, so good job for not punching her in the face (I’m not saying I would have done that…but still…I’d have thought about it) 😛

  4. Jef
    September 30, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    I wonder if acting out like this is simply a reaction to more and more people accepting that homosexuals are able to have loving, healthy relationships. I believe experiences like this are a reminder that I’m a perfect child as I am, which makes me think of that Bette Midler’s cover of Uncanny Alliance’s “I’m Beautiful Dammitt!”

    “Ooh, now let me start loving myself!”

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