August 11, 1992; the day I came into this world. From the very beginning my mother raised me to believe that every single person is equal, despite their beliefs or the color of their skin. For the past 5,861 days or so, I have stuck by those teachings, even now that I can make my own decisions and judgments.
My grandfather, or “Opa” to us kids, married Grammy when they were in their twenties and together had my mom and uncle. It was not until my mother was in her early twenties when Opa revealed that he was homosexual. My grandmother, to say the very least, had a problem with this revelation, but knew she could do nothing about it. Though it took some time, the family returned to normal; I was born, my grandmother re-married, and Mom and Opa closer than ever.
I didn’t realize that homosexuality wasn’t a socially accepted thing until I heard the word “gay” used in a disdainful voice. I never asked Mom why this was so or even about Opa’s preference. It just became one of those things I picked up from multiple sources. Even hearing a depressing amount of people repeating that what my grandfather was an abomination, I never believed them. How could I? I knew Opa, not them. They didn’t know the love I felt for him. They didn’t know the quirky, old man that would sew Barbie clothes from random scraps. I did.
For years I gathered information from the internet, from my youth group minister, from my friends, and all I asked was, “Why?” I searched for someone with a reason beyond “because the Bible says so” desperately but to no avail. Who says a book should decide whether or not my God-fearing grandfather goes to Hell? Then, even if God does truly only want man-woman relationships, why would they think they had the power to condemn my beloved family member? Opa has said that he has always known he was gay, but got married because “that’s what you did in the Sixties.” It was other people that drove him to make himself unhappy by marrying a woman (though, of course, I’m glad he did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here!). It is other people that keep him from living his life the way that would make him happy.
I think it’s sad, honestly. I don’t think it should matter what sexual preference a person has, who or what they pray to (or don’t), or what color their skin is. If they’re a nice person to be around, why would it matter? Sometimes I think Dr. Seuss had it right. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Of course I’m not saying that homosexuals are “small,” but it’s the same point. A person is a person, period.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.