My grandparents were/are committed Christians. They've taught 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school for as long as I can remember. On the infrequent occasions when I attended their church, from kindergarten until I was about 12, I always pulled up a chair and sat between them while we were going over the lesson as a class and eat doughnuts my grandma faithfully bought every Sunday. They taught me about God, prayed with me, and told me of God's grace. We sang songs such as:
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…."
I had a girlfriend of three years before I came out in April of 2008. I was dealt the harsh truth: Jesus loves you unless you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, or queer. Jesus couldn't love gay people, because gay people didn’t exist!
My first nephew was born nearly a year and a half ago; my grandparents are now great-grandparents! They bask in their new role with zeal and eagerness along with awe and wonder as they babysit him three days a week. They revel the time they spend with him as they play their newest silly game of peek-a-boo.
The kicker is this: While my grandma never got so far as to tell me this in this heart-to-heart, fuzzy spirit-filled conversation, she has said she believes THERE ARE ex-homosexuals!?!? So, there are ex-homosexuals, but not homosexuals? It is a logic nightmare!
From this, I learned the simple, unvarnished truth: My grandparents are bigots. While progressive in a couple of ways, their racist views that have since long passed and their current views towards homosexuality are representative (reminiscent??) of many people in their generation who view the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the Scriptures inerrant.
Our three hour talk had somehow strayed into a series of invectives about my character and crescendo'd when it's affect on familial affairs were brought up: I was told that if my girlfriend of nearly three years and I ever got married (never mind that this conversation took place in 2008, and the fact that I lived in California and she in Virginia - at the time it wasn't even a logical possibility) I would no longer be allowed at family gatherings. My grandma said, "Homosexuals are fine as long as it's not in 'this' (meaning her) house."
At this point I knew: I knew that it would only be a matter of time before, as a lesbian, I would be forced to choose between fidelity to my sexual identity and acceptance and approval from my fellow Christian grandparents (and, by extension, the rest of my family). I knew it spiked a fear of further mistrust and oppression. I knew from the intense intuitive emotional reaction I had that the homophobic bigoted view of my grandparents were irrational and unjust.
And unfortunately, I learned the hard way that the divide between the gay and straight Christian community that I grew up in was large and all-pervasive. I was told that gays and lesbians are more depressed, aren’t normal, and that I definitely was not one. Believing that God allowed me to born with such desires while condemning me to hell/annihilation lead me to a year of suicidal ideations. My grandparents were able to shove me back in the closest, rationalize away my existence and effectively ignore an entire class of people with their childish thinking of peek-a-boo, I don't see you.
Up until then, I figured my grandparents would always love me. At that moment however, I learned the harsh truth that love is not unconditional. My grandparents claimed to love me, but she only loved the person they thought I was and the person they hoped I would be. My grandparents certainly don’t accept who I am, let alone tolerate the possibility of it even being mentioned. I haven't given up the hope that my grandparents may someday move past their homophobia, but my existence no longer hinges on their acceptance either.
I just wish they would have been more willing to remain a part of this grandchild's whole life - not just they part that they can accept. I wish they would uncover their eyes and see me, their grandchild, and the injustices I've suffered. I want them to know that I do, indeed exist!
[END NOTE: TODAY I DO HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH MY GRANDPARENTS AND MY FAMILY. UNSUPRISINGLY, I REMAIN UNOPEN AND ON GUARD. NEVERTHELESS, I DO ATTEMPT TO CONVEY MY GENERAL INDICTMENT OF PREJUDICE BY SPEAKING EUPHEMISTALLY OF "HUMAN TOLERANCE." I CITE LOVE AS A MOTIVATOR OF KINDNESS, AND I MAKE PASSING REFERENCES TO THE VALUE OF SHOWING UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE TOWARD THE FULL DIVERSITY OF HUMANITY.]