This is a topic that has been weighing on my mind for some time now so I thought that I would finally put it out there in the universe. It's one that might be slightly controversial but it is something that I have come to believe very strongly.
Last month, I was privileged and honored to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). For those of you who don't know, this is the denomination's bi-ennial Assembly in which thousands of Presbyterians gather to debate and vote on lots of different issues affecting the church, some of them quite controversial. One of the biggest controversies at this year's Assembly (and the one that led to some of the longest debates) was on the issue of gay marriage. Specifically, whether or not the denomination should approve pastors to marry same-sex couples or change the definition of marriage so that same-sex couples can legally get married within the denomination. Ultimately, the denomination voted to maintain the status quo, meaning that same-sex couples who desire to get married even in states where it's legal will be barred from being married in the Presbyterian Church and pastors who officiate such ceremonies will be subject to legal action, even in states where it is legal. While the votes on these issues were close, indicating that there is hope for change at the next Assembly, what really stuck out to me was the debate on the issue. There was some really hurtful stuff that was said during the debate and I felt quite sad for my denomination that these people were a part of it.
What I specifically want to devote this blog post to, though, is something that several people said during the debate that really upset me. Several times I heard people say, "I love my gay friends but I don't support their right to (get married, be ordained, adopt children, etc.)" I really wanted to stand up and say that they are a really terrible friend. That's not real love. That's not the kind of friendship that I want to have in my life. A true friend is somebody who loves you unconditionally and supports your right to have everything that they have. A true friend doesn't support oppression of their friends and a friend who does isn't really a friend. Love, real love, is unconditional and unchanging. Someone who really loves and cares about you wants the same things for you that you want, whether that be marriage, kids, ordination or whatever else.
It's important to have people in your life that fully support and love you for who you are. You want to be surrounded by people who affirm you and who you are. It's one thing to disapprove of people's choices but being gay isn't a choice. Yes, that's right, I said it. I will say it again. BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE!! It's an essential and beautiful part of who you are and those friends who get that are truly your friends and are the people that you should keep around and be with. Those who don't get that or support that are not really your friends anyway and I would encourage you to re-evaulate their place in your life. I am not advocating completely cutting them out of your life. That's a decision that you have to make for yourself. I am, however, advocating re-evaulating your friendship with them and deciding if being friends with them is worth the energy. When their words and actions reveal what they really think. When they advocate on behalf of policies that want to oppress you. When they give their money to organizations that wish to imprison or kill you. When you feel like you can't be open and honest completely about your life with them. Are these people who you think would want to come to your wedding or your ordination service or your children's baptism? A true friend would and would have a wonderful time during it.
Yes, I do hear and understand the arguments that being friends with them could change their mind on the issue but here's something that someone told me recently that has really stuck with me regarding this: 'It's not your job to change them." That's not what your purpose in life is. Your purpose is just to be you and be around people who love you, unconditionally, and who want to hear about your latest relationship or your new baby or your wedding plans or what scripture you want read at your ordination service. People who love their gay friends but don't support their right to marry or adopt or get ordained don't really love their gay friends and your friendship with them doesn't benefit anybody. Take a long, hard look at your friendships and decide if the people in your life now are people that you genuinely want to have there and then make decisions that most benefit you in that regard. If that means cutting ties with certain people, then do it and let them know why. Maybe that will be just the catalyst they need to enact a change in their life. If not, well, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that it wasn't you, it was them.