A very close friend of mine "just came out" to his brother as a gay man. He did the same with his mother about ten months ago -- and it didn't go well. . .with either of them.
He's a former soldier who worked on some of the most classified missions the military had going -- and despite my criticism of the Bush administration on its invasion of Iraq, I know that my friend had a hand in successfully delivering some of the world's real bad guys to the next world -- both in Afghanistan and Iraq. He reads my blog -- and he has kept an open mind about some of my criticisms of this administration and the national security course it has been on.
But his mother and brother have tried to tell him that if he's gay -- he must not believe in God, he must be a reprobate and must be such a deviant that his brother told him that he will never give him a moment's rest and peace about this issue.
My friend is earnest, a patriot, sober, sane -- and he's being betrayed in America by a lack of the kind of tolerance and modernity that our society is supposed to be about. Iran and any place under the control of the Taliban hang, stone, or castrate gay youth. Egypt imprisons them. In middle America, the intolerant who somehow have decided to channel a vindictive, judgmental, and sin-obsessed Christ harass, disown -- and in the case of young Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming or active duty sailor Allen Schindler -- kill them.
I hate to hold Dick Cheney and his wife out as models, but I'm absolutely going to in this case. Cheney is convinced of how right he is in matters of war and state -- but when it came to family, Cheney and his wife evolved. I know that he does not harass his daughter Mary. He accepts her, her partner, and his grandchild.
This is my personal message to my friend's mother and brother. Your son has options. He has friends and a family he can surround himself with until the end of his days as he is a prince of a person whether you see it through your judgmental eyes or not.
I'm sure when Lynn Cheney was not yet ready to broadcast discussion about her daughter being a lesbian -- she was privately tormented. The fact that her daughter. . .that's right. . .the Vice President of the United States' daughter is homosexual -- took time to accept. But they did it. They remained a family, and I credit them for privately demonstrating tolerance in a way that should influence the most theocratic corners of the nation. I have friends that argue that Mary Cheney hasn't done enough -- but she and her family are one -- and that's enough in my view. And it should be in the case of my friend's family.
Your views about your brother and son can't even be called Medieval -- because as we have recently learned, Medieval knights, lords, and nobility committed themselves to each other in property and love in much the way that civil unions are emerging today.
You think your brother and son "chose" a lifestyle that he has tried not to accept for years -- to the point of considering ending his life.
He made no choice. But you are.
You are choosing to reject him and who he decides to be. If Cheney accepts his daughter and her partner, you should think about why you refuse to do the same. Why aren't you able to join our modern world? Theocracy -- when it harms rather then helps -- is no better here than it is over there.
Merry Christmas, and if you get a chance during your lives to visit the site where Matthew Shepherd was brutally killed, I want you to think real hard about who is saved and who is not.
By the way, I forgive you -- but your son is going to live a good life whether or not you accept him for the great man he is.
I hope that something in this note may be useful to many of the others emotionally abandoned or victimized by a righteousness that has lost its bearings.
-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note