He has been my friend for thirty years--since long before I knew he was gay.
Friendship is a tricky, sometimes inexplicable thing. A lot of my friends either wouldn't or don't like each other, and while that's sometimes uncomfortable, it's just the way it is.
What do you do when the authority figures in your life--let's say, your church--asks you to shit on your friends?
The El Coyote restaurant used to be popular especially with many people in the gay community. But when it was revealed that manager, and niece of the owner, Marjorie Chrisoffersen had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign to strip gay couple of marriage rights business dropped off.
Marjorie told the public that she has “been sick at heart” that people are offended by her actions and said she has “family, friends, employees from the gay community who are treasured people in my life.” So then, why exactly did she help fund a campaign to strip those “treasured people” of their right to marry. Her answer was simple: “I have been a member of the Mormon church all my life. I responded to their request with my personal donation.”
Marjorie tried to meet with members of the community and take questions but when asked if she would contribute to No on 8 efforts she started crying. Her daughter stepped forward to defend their actions saying: “The church just tells you when to donate...”
A representative from the No on 8 campaign who meet with Marjorie said: “She is Mormon and she was told that she had to make that check and she actually didn't apologize for doing it. She says she loves the community, she loves the people that are here, but she had to do what the church told her to do.”
Here's the thing: belonging to a church or any other organization because of what you believe is one thing. Believing what they tell you, or acting on the basis of their orders without engaging your critical facilities ... is quite another.
Waldo is my friend, but being consistent on issues that surround my beliefs about the fact that civil rights are for all American citizens no matter who they choose to love is also sometimes ... awkward. So I ask myself how would I respond to this or that situation if Waldo were standing beside me.
[It's an artificial question, in that I don't think Waldo has ever needed anyone else to fight his own battles.]
I have another friend named Massie, who is black [he is the wrong generation to be African-American. He told me a joke that has haunted me for twenty years:
Q: When does a black man turn into a nigger?
A: When he leaves the room.
There's a very disjointed moral to this story, but it's ironic: if you get it, you won't need this post to help you.
If you don't get it, nothing I write her will probably make any difference.