Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Friends like These

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Friends like These

Article excerpt

Before the battle for marriage rights was thrust onto the national stage, I maintained several fulfilling friendships with conservative Republicans who espoused a set of political beliefs that were vastly different from my own. My job as a novelist demands that I be open to a wide variety of opinions, and I saw these friendships as a wonderful opportunity to combat the hostile divisiveness the fight-wing media spends millions of dollars introducing into every home across the country. But as soon as my civil rights were turned into a political football, it became clear that most of my conservative friends expected me to respect their opinion that I should be relegated to second-class citizenship. I chose to exercise a different option. I walked away.

I wasn't the only one. A close friend of mine told a childhood friend that she could not stay in his home with him and his partner after

she expressed her belief that same-sex marriage was a "special fight." Almost all of my gay friends have had to ask family members to stop forwarding them conservative e-mails, often resulting in vicious, tearful fights. In the gay-friendly Clinton years, many gays and lesbians developed close relationships with their political opposites. Now those friendships are being placed next to the fire, and many of them are going up in smoke.

It was not an easy decision. Did I do it to prove a point? Absolutely. Gay activists who came before me had increased my community's acceptance and visibility to such a degree that I was able to form friendships with people who were allegedly my oppressors. Along the way I discovered they were flesh-and-blood human beings who sometimes provoked me to look at things in a different way. Now I hope my former friends will be able to recognize that our ruined friendship and the sense of loss that accompanies it are the only measurable results that would come from a nationwide ban on marriage equality. …

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