Ever since I was a kid, I’ve known what I believe in, and I’ve never backed down from fighting for it.
This became even more apparent to those who know me in college. I became active in protesting, and more so in writing. Articles, letters, anything I could get out. While I always tried to be fair handed, I did tend to write from the point of view that those that oppose my view were at best misguided, at worst diabolical.
The thing that changed this was a protest rally I attended in 1998 in Boston, Ma. I’m a firm believer in equality for all people. So I’m also a firm believer in marriage rights for same sex couples.. I’m passionate on the subject. I was attending the rally to show my support for this ideal. As a soon-to-be-married heterosexual woman, I felt my presence there was important. But on the way to the rally, I was hungry and so I stopped into a local Taco Bell for a little food before I stood for hours with my sign.
Waiting at the counter, a girl standing in the line next to me noticed my tee shirt. I was a theatre major, and I was wearing one of my favorite joke tee’s. A depiction of a scene from Shakespeare drawn with Dr. Sues like characters reading “Green Eggs and Hamlet” She was about my age, early 20’s, and she laughed when she saw it. We chatted the full 10 minutes we waited, exchanging small talk. I discovered like me she was a theater major. We liked the same shows. By the time I was leaving eating my taco, I was thinking how nice it was to talk to her, and wondering if I should have passed her my e-mail address and offered to talk more with her.
So imagine my surprise when, as I stood holding my sign outside the state house, I found myself looking into the crowd of opposing protesters to find my Taco buddy with a sign reading “Homosexuality is a sin”
We stared at each other across the battlefield, both with our mouths open. Suddenly “they” had a face, and one I had liked even over a brief conversation.
I’d like to say that we sat down and discussed our differences of opinion. But that wasn’t to be. She moved off into the rain, and I have never even learned her name. I remember feeling so sad in that moment.
Seeing her there did not change my mind about my belief in equality. But it did change my mind about letting myself make those I don’t agree with into faceless villains. Now, I try to understand the opposing point of view, and remember they are human like me. They have hopes and they have fears. I don’t agree with them, but I do want to understand them.
Now, I believe that to reach true equality you cannot dehumanize ANYONE.
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