The piece, which many media sites assumed was written in direct response to a Dec. 2016 Buzzfeed story that claimed the Gaines attend an anti-LGBTQ church, was lauded as “perfect” and “filled with love and compassion” by conservative and religious outlets. If you didn’t look closely ― or weren’t thinking critically enough ― it’s easy to understand why.
“Joanna and I have personal convictions,” Gaines wrote. “One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith.”
Aw. Thanks, Chip. That’s sweet.
“You wanna talk about how to build bridges between people that disagree? We want to be a part of that conversation,” he added. “Do you want to talk about healing and compassion and kindness and restoration? We’re in the restoration business, we can for sure make time for that.”
Healing and compassion and kindness and restoration? Sign me up!
“Disagreement is not the same thing as hate, don’t believe that lie,” Gaines implores.
“Our family wants to fight for a world that knows how to lovingly disagree,” he adds. “We believe it starts when we operate from a position of love in all things. If your position only extends love to the people who agree with you, we want to respectfully challenge that position.”
You were doing so well, Chip, but here’s where I have to stop you.
People disagree about whether New England clam chowder is better than Manhattan clam chowder or what to name their new iguana or whether or not Kylie Jenner has really gotten butt implants. But a church or an individual or a government telling a queer person that they are a sinner or that they don’t deserve to get married or that queer people should be treated any less or any differently than non-queer people merely because of who they are is not “lovingly disagreeing.”
It’s the same tired nonsense that’s continually peddled by folks who aren’t cool with queer people but don’t want to be called a bigot or deal with the possibility of a boycott against their businesses. And as much as it hurts to hear, in this case, disagreement is hate.
No, gussying up homophobia as a simple difference of opinion doesn’t feel or look as obviously offensive or hurtful as a Westboro Baptist Church protest, but in some ways, it’s even more dangerous because deceptive framing allows people to feel justified in their discrimination.
The bottom line is: My humanity is not something you get to disagree with. You don’t get to tell me that I’m morally corrupt or sexually deviant or unworthy of the same rights that you enjoy and then look me in the face and tell me that you still love me. That’s nothing remotely close to resembling love.
By the same token, if by some chance you don’t agree with your church’s doctrine, you don’t get to attend a church that’s anti-LGBTQ and not be called out. If you really care about me and love me and truly aren’t anti-queer, why would you look the other way? Why wouldn’t you publicly stand up and say something?
I like you, Chip, and I like your wife and I like your TV show (and so does my mom) and I’d love for you to come and redo my apartment (or at the very least hang a few pictures that I’ve been meaning to put up for the past 14 months). And I appreciate that you guys want to “change the conversation” in this country and help to make it a better place. I want that, too. But we’re not going to get there if we aren’t calling out bigotry wherever we see it. Otherwise, what’s the point? That’d be like spending thousands of dollars to beautifully redo a house but never taking care of the black mold happily rotting in the basement.
So let’s do this: You start unequivocally calling out bigotry (however blatant or incidental it may be) against queer people wherever you see it ― without any of the “love the sinner but hate the sin” or “I care about you, I just don’t believe in gay marriage” bullshit ― and I’ll do whatever I can to help you on your mission. Let’s plan a conference. Let’s start a national conversation. Let’s have a real honest to goodness come to Jesus moment. This country needs some fixing up and if you’re really serious about taking part in that, I’m in, too.