I imagine a crystal ball trained on the parallel universe in which Liam survived. He might have been gay, you know, the crystal ball says. Does that change anything?
I am his mother. He is my son. Give me my baby back, just as he was.
Sorry.... the stranger hisses, trolling my friend's grassroots campaign against a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage in Arizona. Marriage is a special and sacred covenant designed by God to be between a MAN and a WOMAN!
She invokes God to insist that only her kind of life is ordained. She puts conditions on human brothers and sisters, on me and on you. She denies love, that special and sacred gift designed to heal the world.
And so I reply Yes. Heterosexuals are God's chosen people, and all the rest are damned. Wait... no. White christian heterosexuals. That's it. Actually... no. White christian heterosexuals who remain married and never divorce for any reason nor cheat on taxes, tests or vows. And they must love their neighbours, be fertile, and choose to have children. And of course, they must never indulge conceit or pride. These are God's special and sacred people. Anyone not among them by choice, fate or birth deserves damnation. Indeed, the very definition of a christian ideal. My congratulations to you that you believe you are among the chosen few, at least on paper. Enough for a sound sleep?
In the muscle memory of our souls we've all been marginalized. Each and every one of us has had miserably timed turns at being poor, or protestant, or mentally ill, or black, or differently abled, or female, or jewish, or iroquois, or gay. In all those states we were born as a living, breathing expression of hope and renewal and love just as we were. In all those states we have been denied by each other. Too many of us forget to remember.
A baby dribbles cereal for the first time and we think Oh! Look at you go. Funny feeling, isn't it? Good boy! and at that moment he is a hairline closer to making his own way in the world. Then he crawls like greased lightening. Then he weeble-wobble walks. Then before we know it he's got the keys to the car and we hear the voice of our parents from our own mouths: It's not you I'm worried about. It's all the other drivers and we won't sleep a wink that night until we know he is safe in his bed.
Parenthood is one long letting-go. Our children grow up, up and away, and they need us less and less, and there's no use in resisting it, and that's just how it's meant to be.
Now step back. Way back.
The collective of human beings doesn't grow up, up and away. As we grow up—as we fumble to feel around the edges of this world we've been given—those edges close in. The world gets smaller, and rather than growing away we grow increasingly squashed together.
There's no longer enough space to remain cloistered in like-minded tribes. We bump and jostle, forced by sheer proximity and exposure to look at each other—really look—and exist among the unfamiliar scents and sounds and fashions of others.
In this cacophony there are now only two breeds of humans. There are those who grimace and whine Quit shoving! You stink. I'm better than you. And you, too. Shut up. Move over. He stepped on my foot! Asshole. I'll show you. This is unbearable. This is wrong. This has to stop. And there are those who shrug, knowing this is how it was always meant to happen.
I suppose ten million years from now, we'll all be just alike
same colour, same kind
and working together
and maybe we'll have all of the fascists out of the way by then
This growing together, this sharing space: it is as sure as tide, current in a bottleneck. To push against it is masochistic and misguided, inevitable failure proven time and time again. To turn the other way and surf it is the joy, the awakening that was designed for us.
I held my baby son as he died. Read this, the whole thing, and I think you'll understand:
"I always suspected that deep down inside the person yammering on about unconditional love was really trying to set himself up to get a piece of ass. Nothing wrong with that, but don't kid yourself about unconditional love. Until you've lived it, you can't know it. And the separation between those who can grasp the concept and those who have held the feeling is a yawning chasm that nothing but experience can bridge.
Until you love your child without ever knowing whether or not you'll ever get to hold her, you don't know unconditional love. Until your love for your child is greater than your need for her to live even one more day with anything less than the dignity she deserves, you don't know unconditional love." —Dave Spinrad, rabbi and bereaved father
Having been there—urgently, desperately—witnessing condemnation turns me inside out. How dare anyone put conditions on love—that which was planted to heal the world by the very god they invoke?
Imagine a crystal ball trained on the future of the child you hold in your arms. The child with the jack ‘o lantern grin, the succulent, cheesy neck, the chubby folds. The child that woke up twice last night in hot tears and needed you, just you.
She's going to be gay, you know, the crystal ball says. She's going to be gay and she's going to live far away but she'll be home every summer and for Christmas with her wife. She's going to be happy, and smart, and ordinary, and gay. Does that change anything?
Beg, plead: Just keep her safe and whole. I will love her forever, just as she is.