I’m linking up with Kate at the gang at Five Minute Friday today. Where most of us break the rules, but realize that the writing is more important than the rules. I did set my timer today, but what I wrote about wouldn’t fit into 5 minutes. I did edit, but I just can’t ignore blatant misspelled words, especially when that squiggly red line is glaring from the computer screen. Today’s word: Friend
A while back I attempted to enter another community to improve my writing skills. When I began writing there, I really had no idea, but I quickly found that I was definitely in the minority. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote that brought a friendly letter from one of the moderators telling me that they had removed my post because it didn’t fit the guidelines. We chatted back and forth by email and I thought we had come to an understanding. In an effort to show the community that I was in fact not a hater, and could love a person even if I did not agree with their lifestyle I wrote a factual story about my first ballroom dance partner. He was my friend who died of complications from AIDS in 1985. It went over like a lead balloon. The next letter I received was not so nice. It was then that I realized that there was nothing, could have been nothing that I could write to convince him, and the community, that I was not the enemy.
A few months later, I was at a salon in Knoxville. It’s an upper end cosmetology school that I love to visit when I’m home.
Forgive me for daring to stereotype,
but in order to tell the story, I must. This young man was extravagant. In some ways, he was more feminine than me. But you know what? I didn’t think about it, and I’m sure he didn’t either. We talked, we laughed and we had FUN! Bonus? I got a great cut from an up and coming stylist.
When he walked me to the desk to settle the bill, he hugged me. I mean a full on body slamming hug. I admit I stepped back a bit. But it wasn’t what you might be thinking. I was a bit startled because I’d never had a stylist hug me before. I wasn’t expecting it. He explained that he loved hugs, I agreed because I think hugs are better than melted butter on warm toast.
We didn’t discuss his sexual orientation, or mine. If we had, it wouldn’t have changed anything.
Sadly, that’s what the guy in the other writing community didn’t understand. And even sadder, nothing I could have said (and I tried) could have convinced him otherwise.
His mind was made up. He had concluded I was one of “those” evil haters.
Yet, who was really the hater?
He stereotyped me based on his fear not on facts. The fact is, I never gave him, or anyone in that community, a reason to believe I hated homosexuals. It’s not the first time I’ve been stereotyped and sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last.
It is sad really. So many people walk around paralyzed by fear. They’re on the defense looking for those they falsely think wish them harm.
I wish I could convince those that walk in that kind of fear that most of us don’t walk around looking for someone to hate. We are not that consumed with their lifestyle choice. We’re too busy taking care of our own life. Yes, of course there will be exceptions. But there are enough haters in this world without stereotyping an entire people group based on their religious conviction without even attempting to understand that standing in opposition because of conviction doesn’t equal hate.
Because of the actions of few, many problems are created where there aren’t any.
What happened to niceties? What happened to “live and let live?” What happened to “coexist?’ Why can’t we think the best of people instead of the worst? Why can’t we agree to disagree and move on and enjoy each other? And yes, I know why…sin entered the world through one man. But still, it seems like we should be to live at peace together.
Somehow, I wish that I could have met this man before finding the online community he helps moderate. I wish we could have had a pleasant friendly interaction. I wish we would have enjoyed each other’s company so much that we hugged. I wish we could have found common ground and even been friends.
Unfortunately, I doubt that would have convinced him that I wasn’t a hater. In fact, somehow I fear it would have made things worse. In these kind of situations there isn’t a way to win. My words, my actions, my friendship would have been twisted, and fear would have won instead of friendship.
Sad really isn’t it? Friendships lost before they’ve begun. Walls built because of stereotypes.
And in the style of our friend Andrew, I’ll leave you with a music video today. Come on people now, smile on your brother…
And if you’d rather watch the hippy version: