I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately. I know it’s crazy to be doing soul searching when you’re 30 but come on people, I’ve lived a very sheltered life! I am a Wyoming girl through and through, I come from a ranching family, a Christian family, a bigoted family. One thing that got me to thinking about this was a political e-mail that was forwarded to me by my grandma. I usually delete them without reading them but this was titled something like “Who Will You Vote For” and I have to admit I am hopelessly torn this year. In years past my decision was easy but I have to admit it was easy because it wasn’t a personal decision. I voted along party lines. I voted for the candidate I knew I “should” support being raised a conservative republican. This year I’m not doing that. No, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, nor would I publish it if I did because I’m not a political blogger and I have no desire to become one. So this post isn’t so much about politics as it is about me growing as a person in this day and age and rolling with that. What I can tell you for sure is just because I’m a registered republican voter doesn’t mean I’m voting republican this year. I’m not saying I’m not, I’m just saying I’m not voting a certain way just because of my party affiliation.
So in filling out this silly form on this website it made me once again reflect on how far I think I’ve come, one of the questions regarded gay marriage and I have to say, a few years ago my answer would have been VERY different than it was today. I’ve come to realize over the last few years I was raised a bigot. I honestly didn’t even know that! I know you’re wondering how that’s possible to be raised a bigot and even have tendencies toward being a bigot without even realizing it. Trust me when I say it’s VERY possible. As a matter of fact a few years ago a friend and I were discussing an American Idol contestant. He was openly gay and without even realizing it I was using an offensive term when speaking about him with her. She had to point it out! I didn’t even realize it. After getting off of the phone with her I realized I was talking about him in terms of his sexuality, I was classifying him based on that, I didn’t use his name, I didn’t think of him as the person he was, I thought of him as the term I referred to him as. I’m not ashamed to say I was MORTIFIED!!! That was a very profound moment for me believe it or not. I’m sure my friend who was raised to be so loving and open minded doesn’t even know it was, she was offended by the term and said as much (nicely I might add) but for me it meant SO much more than that and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the past two years. Do you know if you had asked me if I was a homophobe I would have said no and it would have been an honest answer because I truly felt I wasn’t, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was a homophobe, a hypocrite, and a bigot, I thought I was a person open to differences in others, a person who could love everyone despite their skin color, sexuality, etc… I truly did, but I didn’t realize that deep down I truly wasn’t who I thought I was, I could say I was and even convince myself I was but I was lying to myself and everyone around me.
Anyway, this political calculator that asks where you stand on issues. Do you know I have to say none of the boxes fit me! I am hopelessly torn in my opinions on the issues. I think I’m torn but not because I am wishy washy and a flake, more because I am torn between whether or not I believe what I was raised to believe and what I know the popular belief is among the people I love and what I am learning is really the RIGHT belief to have. Know what? I love that they didn’t fit me! It means I am growing in the direction I want to grow, it means I am taking very strong steps away from the black and white I was raised in and in to the gray area that is life. Is that silly? The worst part is the people I love are GOOD people. I know some of you would disagree as someone who has the ability to dislike someone because of their sexuality can’t possibly be a good person, but truly they are. They, like me; just don’t realize what they’re saying and doing. They don’t think about it. They were raised a certain way and let’s face it, you can’t just erase years of conditioning just because it’s not PC conditioning.
In trying to fill in those silly check boxes I was also able to see again just how much I’m changing as a person, my beliefs are changing, my opinions are changing. In a lot of ways I am still that conservative girl from Wyoming, that may never change and in some ways, I am very old fashioned especially when it comes to my beliefs about family and mothers (but that’s an ENTIRELY different post). But in some ways, in a lot of ways that matter, I am no longer that same person. I am the person who has a gay uncle by marriage and who thinks of him and his partner as WHO he is not WHAT his sexuality is. It took me a while to get there I will admit it, we’ve been married 8 years this week and a lot of my changing viewpoints have taken the entire 8 years but I have to give myself some slack because in all honesty until him I’d never met a gay person so I wasn’t actually forced to consider the issue. There are times I am still a little put off by the lifestyle, I will admit that. There are times I watch a TV program with gay people living their lives and think “wow” when they kiss, but I am SO much bigger now than I was even two years ago. I can look at them and see they have an actual relationship and see that relationship not their respective sexes. I am not to the point I am totally comfortable with it, I can admit that I still feel a bit uncomfortable breaking away from the beliefs I was raised with, but I AM at the point where I can sit down with my 7-year-old and explain honestly why we should NOT use the term “gay” as slang under any circumstances. I can accept and embrace the world around me fully, I can look at people and not see their sexuality but rather see them as people in love who just want to be able to love each other without people like me seeing them as anything but. I like to think that’s a change for the better. I like to think I’m breaking the mold I was raised in, and I’d especially like to think I will be raising my son outside of that mold so that when his time comes he can say “I’m not a bigot” and it will be absolutely 100% true. Hopefully those are all steps in the right direction for me.