My husband had just gotten into our car and I'd closed the passenger side door, holding the umbrella against a cold downpour in a restaurant parking lot, late winter 2006, when I heard a man scream not far away. What on earth?
He screamed again, this time closer.
I froze, fearing his rage was directed at me, expecting to be hit from behind at any second. I remember thinking I had to move, to get into the car. When I turned to walk to the driver's side I glanced around and saw a young man with a group of three other young people approaching me. Without a doubt he was definitely targeting me. As I got into the car he yelled more words full of hate and anger while his friends watched.
I can't imagine the courage it takes live life as an "out" gay person. But I know how important it is for people to be true to their hearts. A close relative finally came out last year, having grown up hearing a lot of anti-gay speech -- from the family, from school friends. I think of the wasted years of this person's life, years which could have been spent in a loving, adult relationship.
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of singing in a choir "I Believe" by composer Mark A. Miller (no relation). While many in central Pennsylvania know of United Methodist minister Rev. Frank Schaefer, Mark A. Miller is known for the "Standing With Mark" campaign. His website quotes Cornell West: "Justice is what love looks like in public."
Here in Lancaster County some 20 years ago Laura Montgomery Rutt founded the Alliance for Tolerance and Freedom in order to bring positive change in many areas, including gay rights. She had credited Rev. Kit Howell of the Lancaster Unitarian Universalist Church for encouraging her to put her thoughts into action. She kept speaking and writing despite hateful backlash. She spoke up on behalf of Rev. Jimmy Creech.
Over the years many people have worked to promote understanding and awareness of the fact that gay rights are human rights. That love between consenting adults can never be wrong.
One can't help being astonished at the arguments, even violence, still taking place regarding gay rights. Many are amazed people are still having this conversation.
So let's talk about how human love includes being gay. How gender isn't black and white but many shades. Let people meet and have conversations. Talk is good. Screaming "Dyke bitch!" at someone is not. Civil, kind talk -- like justice -- is what love looks like in public.