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My Christmas 2008

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2008

This year was one of both pleasant and challenging experiences.

On Christmas Eve, I found myself at the home of a lovely woman. I was having a wonderful time when this woman’s son’s girlfriend announced that she had voted for Proposition 8. This was said loudly and proudly to the four gay people in the room.

I found myself unsure what to do. Frankly, I was shocked. I tried to pull myself out of the group and the girl came over to explain her position. She thought, “If they let two men marry, they might as well let three or four”.

Now this was coming from a girl who was waiting for the father of her daughter to finish Christmas Eve with his two other girlfriends, one of whom he lived with and the other of whom is pregnant. I found it more than a little perplexing that she felt entitled to an opinion about the legal rights of gay relationships.

And any efforts to make her realize that this was not abstract or theoretical but that she had voted to deny rights to people right there in the room only yielded her polygamy response. I finally realized that there was not going to be a rational meeting of minds and settled for the agreement that discrimination is not pleasant to the recipient, regardless of the reasons – though no empathy was present in that concession.

We went on with the evening – a meeting of very different cultures – and I found that I did enjoy the night. I even found that I enjoyed this particular girl.

I wonder if my response was correct.

I was a guest in someone’s home and at no point did anyone treat me with overt bigotry. Yet, someone sat and looked me in the face and told me that she had voted to make me inferior. Proudly. And no argument would sway the certainty of her position.

On the other hand, Christmas Day was delightful and without any conflict. It was a gathering of gay men (and a straight woman) for a delicious dinner, conversation, and watching (or, really, talking over) movies.

We also found that Oxygen On Demand had a karaoke channel which had Christmas songs. And I think the high point of the day was belting out Christmas Carols and seeing black and white, Christian and Jewish and Muslim and Native, singles and couples, all joining together in trying to reach the high notes on O Holy Night (Celene Dion version).

I hope that all of you enjoyed the holiday as much as I did.

Comments

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werdna
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

The word is spelled karaoke, though most gaijin do pronounce it the way you spelled it.

KipEsquire
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

The only correct response to “I voted for Proposition 8″ is “apology accepted.”

Sapphocrat
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

I would have risen, thanked my host(s) profusely, and gone home.

Narc
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with Sapphocrat that just leaving would have made a good statement. It would also have ruined your evening, but maybe that’s the price that needs to be paid. Maybe a little social shunning would be a useful thing.

Alternatively, you could simply have refused to engage her socially. Be polite and civil, of course, but do not make conversation. If you are alone in the room with her, leave to find other company. Basically, I’m trying to suggest a modern version of the cut direct.

Dave
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

You are way nicer than I would have been. Let’s just say my inner beyotch would have come out. I probably would have made that girl cry.

cowboy
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

It has been my experience at parties, those who are loud, are vulgar, are uncouth, are demonstrative, or are uninhibited: Usually have a glass in their hand…sloshing all over the place. Probably, her brain was sloshing too?

AJD
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

You may not have experienced any overt bigotry, but you certainly experienced polite bigotry.

This woman’s “loudly and proudly” telling four gay people in polite company that she voted for Prop. 8 was an act of passive-aggressive cattiness on her part.

AlexM
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

A person doesn’t need to borrow a sign from a member of the Westboro Baptist Church to be a bigot. Sometimes evil smiles very prettily.

I would have had a very difficult time being as nice as you, Tim.

John
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’m curious what the point of telling you that she voted for Prop 8 was if not to make you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I am not sure that I could have stayed while someone was trying to provoke me.

Bruno
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I think this girl came out of that evening feeling like she had held her ground and was morally justified in doing so. I agree, this girl should not have been engaged in any way by you from the moment she made her vote clear. It’s time that people like this realize that they are no friend to gays & lesbians, and we are the ones who have to demonstrate that to them at all times, at all costs.

Miles
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’m sick to f*cking death of being nice to these morons. You should have made your point loudly at the table, rather than being a polite, PC fag and leaving it alone. Screw ‘em. If you wanna make stupid comments to me, you’ll get lambasted, and I don’t care which imaginary friend is celebrating their birthday on the occasion in question, or who else is at the table.

Mark
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I don’t know what I would have done, on the spot.. I know what I think now. I think that sometimes we have to ruin a evening, end friendships, etc. For me, it is easier since I had a Jewish Grandfather who was in a camp. He always told me stories about how Jews in Austria let one civil liberty law pass after another, turning the other cheek, still maintaining friendships with neighbors, etc. He blamed the Jews of Austria as much as he blamed the Nazis. One group for being sheep, the other for being evil.

What to do now? Well, I would try to learn her contact information and send her a note. Tell her that it’s not just about marriage.. it’s about making special laws to deal with an unpopular minority, and remind her of the previous times this country has done this. Explain to your hosts that you no longer want to associate with people who want to pass special laws to control an unpopular minority, of which you are a member btw.

I am really glad that you brought this up. We should all have a prepared reaction for these kind of situations.

elaygee
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’d have peed in her punch and left

Ben in Oakland
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I think I would have turned it around.
I also think that she was doing it intentionally, in order ot let you know that she was superior to the fags. It was passive aggressive, using a holiday gathering in which she was trusting the rules of politesse to give her a cover for being nasty.

I’m not sure what I would have done. But i think i would have called her on it. “That you chose to vote for it is one thing. that you chose to inform me of it is a passive aggressive act designed to give you a cover for being a bigot. Your argument is ridiculous.If you let one man and one woman marry, why not three or four.”

I might have gone further, but i’m not sure. “I am no longer iwlling to break bread with people who think I am less than a human being and less than an american citizen. I think i’m going to go. Have a nice evening.”

Brad
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I would be surprised if that girl is still your hosts’ son’s girlfriend. She was insufferably rude, even, as you say, she tried to put a polite face on her bigotry.

jOHN
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

By doing nothing you have shown approval for her behavior and acceptance of her superiority…at least in the eye of those in attendance.

Which is your right to do still or until the next election takes that right away as well.

Bose
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I haven’t found any easy answers to living as an openly gay guy for 15 years, and loving my kids who have heard from a young age that I am deeply flawed.

They remain charming, wonderful, gifted people who I love so much. I haven’t always had the determination and fortitude to spend time together.

It sounds like you were in good personal space to stay, and be, and learn, on Christmas Eve, Timothy. Good for you.

Mad John
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’d have left. I wouldn’t break bread with someone who’d attacked my family. Shunning is appropriate for people like this.

Jonathan Justice
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

Your response was correct. Chalk it up to research. You got this post out of it. You make a pretty clear case that the young woman is quite some distance out on the limb she is sawing at. That she and her part time lover are willing to settle for framing their connection to their child in all of the assurances modern DNA testing and state law can provide is hilariously tacky. That she then turns out to be a good person to party with is a classic bit of why exclusionary politics are so wrong.

Commenters are right to raise the question of whether her response is diversionary. Either she is fronting the argument from somebody else without giving it serious consideration to get the rise she got, or she is concealing a desire to dump on gay men behind a silly piece of noise while operating in an environment of de facto polygamy. It is possible that she experiences just a bit of cognitive dissonance there and thus needs to dump on somebody before it gets to her.

Parties are not political demonstrations, street fights, or bar fights. People who think they are should not be invited in the first place. If the party turns that way, one should leave as a public safety matter. While it is true that a lot of verbal weapons are discharged at parties, if people are willing to make enough nice that the party is not disrupted by that, the people who accepted the invitations have something of an obligation to try to get it to work. Carefully considered subsequent comments to the hostess/host may be in order.

cowboy
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

So, you see, Tim was able to have a good time in spite of Ms. Sanctimonious. Why deprive you of a good evening because of just one other person’s social faux pas. Even if you could have said a snappy come-back or decide to leave the party you might make the host/ess uncomfortable…putting a pall on the rest of the party.

Accept the fact there are rude people everywhere…at parties, at work and at public events.

I remember advice Ann Landers gave one time about a similar event: “Sometimes silence is the best retort.”

Regan DuCasse
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

My roomie, had a similar problem. But it was with someone he considers a close friend. Not anymore.

My roomie was the best man at S’s wedding. Which, considering S’s previous divorce, and that he was Jewish marrying a Catholic…S’s own remarriage was an abomination in the eyes of heaven, and wouldn’t have been performed at all by the same excuses that the opposition is using to refuse gay couples.

S’s also voted for Prop. 8, this he said to his best man, a gay man. So to S, my roomie could ATTEND and stand up at S’s wedding, but my roomie has no hope of his own.

S’s wife, who is a very close friend to myself and my roomie is so mortified, she’s barely hanging on.
BTW, S’s marriage is in trouble due to his substance addiction problems.

Bottom line, heterosexuals are entitling themselves as if their orientation alone is virtue and homosexuality makes the same impossible.

It’s a perplexing as white people believing skin color makes one of higher intelligence, morals and ability than someone black.

Same impossible illogic, different minority.

I think my response would have been similar to that.
That her understanding of gay people wouldn’t fit on a pinpoint, and her comparisons, judgement and conjecture about what other marriage was inevitable was silly.

And such silly assumptions are a horrible thing to REDEFINE a Constitution with and redefine it to discriminate was worse than a gay couple could do to marriage.

Such people, S included, drank the Kool-Aid. There IS a kind of lack of intelligence in their decision, if not lack of compassion.

Being stuck on stupid is no reason to broker the human rights of any minority and a majority vote on an unpopular minority had only one outcome.
So the chest beating over the passing of the amendment is…mean in spirit. There is no other way to put it.

Personally, I never try to let an opportunity to let someone know just how irresponsible and mean they are when it comes to voting on the rights of a minority ALREADY many years under threat and with little legal recourse against it.

So I would have thrown in back to this woman, ‘so now that you’ve effectively put human progress between gay and straight back a lot of years and won’t save marriage from the thousands of divorces and adultery and child abuse that occurs…why are you feeling SO triumphant as if you accomplished something good and important?
You should have thought of saving marriage from your heterosexual peers who screw it up so royally, instead of keeping it from gay couples with more respect for it than that.’

mike/
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

with her argument of why she voted for Prop 8 – “If they let two men marry, they might as well let three or four.” i would have responded, and have, “what’s wrong with that? they did it in your bible all the time!”

these people have lost sight of the fact that marriage has changed over the millenia for many reasons. the current manifestation is not even 100 years old. marriage based on intense feelings of love and admiration came about after WWI, and the Jazz Age that followed, bringing feelings of alienation and distance to the fore.

prior to this, marriages were contractual arrangements, more or less, devised for very specific reasons whether power, money, status, etc. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Predjudice” is a perfect example in explanation.

these people need to get over themselves. of course, if they did, they’d probably realize that there was nothing to get over to begin with!

David
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’ve asked a number of Prop H8 supporters the following question point blank, in less convivial situations, so I’m guessing I’d have asked the young tart the same thing:

“Why do you enjoy harming other people’s families?”

Pat
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’m not sure what I would have done, based on the information given. First of all, this person is someone who you are not close to, and she may be out of the picture by next Christmas Eve anyway. And there are always going to be parties and family occasions where there are going to be differences of opinions, even to the point where some may view others’ views as bigotry.

Also, in what context was this announcement made? Were you talking about the wonderful stretch of weather, and she blurted it out? Or were everyone talking about politics, and in particular, Prop. 8. If it’s the former, it was totally inappropriate. If it’s the latter, what can you do? Sure, it seemed rude for her to do this, especially considering the company there.

So there were a couple of possible choices, depending on the people and the environment of the party.

- Remain quiet about it.
- Explain why you believe that her reasoning was flawed. Explain that polygamy existed (and still exists in some cultures) well before same sex marriage. You could also explain why you believe the slippery slope argument was inappropriate in this case.
- Return the comment (as was suggested, could have been passive-aggressive) with something like, “Well, I proudly voted for Prop. 8A, which bans unmarried single parents from dating others.” It might have been over the top though, if asked why, you said, “because you and the father of your child are exhibits A and B.”

Was she really that disconnected with her personal situation and the polygamy comment?

Rick
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I admire you, Tim, for being able to stay, for trying to transmit some understanding to her of what it’s like to be gay and oppressed. Her admission would have ruined the day for me. I would have simply left without a word, it would have been the only way for me to mitigate the harm she’d done. The older I get the less Qi I seem to have available for such confrontations. Thank you for trying.

Buffy
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

Oy. She stood there and proudly announced to several gay people that she’d voted to eradicate their rights. That was an act of overt bigotry.

Why is it that so many of us are buying the RRRW lie that if we’re not being beaten to a pulp in the streets that we’re not suffering bigotry or discrimination? Are we next going to start believing that they’re destroying us out of “love”?

The moment she said what she said I would have thanked my hosts and walked out.

Hank
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

You are a better man than I, for sure. I’m not certain what I would have done, but as I get older, I no longer suffer fools lightly. I’m sure I would have let her know exactly how I feel about her vote and how it impacts me personally and then I would have ignored her for the rest of the evening.
Best wishes for 2009 and thanks for all your great work! I am faily new to BTB and I love it!

Bruno
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

Jonathon Justice: “That she then turns out to be a good person to party with is a classic bit of why exclusionary politics are so wrong.”

I see it the other way. If we party with this woman and she comes away from the evening feeling like she can still be friends with the gays while taking away their rights, then we’ve lost it completely.

Pierre
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

I’m a little confused, was this girl’s boyfriend, the son of the ‘lovely woman’, the father of her child who also had two other girlfriends, one of whom was pregnant? If so it sounds like these people have some serious issues.

If any case I’m wondering if the whole fear of polygamy had anything to do with her personal situation? Without knowing any of the details I suppose it is impossible to know, but she may have been displacing her anger at the father of her child onto gays.

Also, who were the other gays there? Friends? Relatives? How did they react? And how did the other guests react? And how did the girl’s boyfriend react? Were they horrified or did they agree with here? Just curious.

Joel
December 27th, 2008 | LINK

“I would have had a very difficult time being as nice as you, Tim.”

Same, sarcam would’ve probably slipt through, with a smile of course.

“The moment she said what she said I would have thanked my hosts and walked out.”

oH DEAR NO.. that would, imo, be shunning yourself with no actual progress.

“Alternatively, you could simply have refused to engage her socially. Be polite and civil, of course, but do not make conversation”

I FAIL to see the point of non-conversation. Of course.. unless it has already been attempted over and over… and even then…

“If you wanna make stupid comments to me, you’ll get lambasted, and I don’t care which imaginary friend is celebrating their birthday on the occasion in question, or who else is at the table.”

I think i agree with you miles more than the ‘polite’ ppl.

“It’s time that people like this realize that they are no friend to gays & lesbians, and we are the ones who have to demonstrate that to them at all times, at all costs.”

I don’t think she doubts we are human or that we can be civil. what she needs a dose of reality. A witty, intelligent person might make her understand a point or two.

“Accept the fact there are rude people everywhere…at parties, at work and at public events. ”

And we should all accept their actions and ignore it. And the next time it happens you’ll do the same. And the next…. until she, again, votes your rights away out of pure ignorance. Of course you had a chance to attempt to persuade her out of her ill, slippery-sloped, disingenuous reason, and maybe even find a NO vote for the next time. But you decided to be polite… to accept that there are rude ppl. Surely taking her out in private was fine… but you should have surely tried a bit harder to at least feel.. as if you tried.

She decided to boast and essentially, like bruno said, felt “she had held her ground and was morally justified in doing so”. COnsidering you are equal to them you have the same right to do so and could’ve proudly displayed that you had voted yes. This might have opened her to publicly announce her reason and would have left you open (and the rest of you) to expose the flaws to her far-fetched argument.

I hope she has not one.. but two gay children. Maybe.. just maybe she’ll begin to understand(and empathize) the difference between polygamy and gay relationships.

Neil H
December 28th, 2008 | LINK

After some consideration, and agreeing with the people who describe this woman’s behaviour as both passive-aggressive and as an overt act of bigotry, I think my response in a similar situation would be to say “you’re looking for a fight. I’m not going to give you one”. Then I’d enjoy the party.

She wasn’t interested in being “educated”. She was interested in publicly putting you down.

Jason D
December 28th, 2008 | LINK

Neil H has the best response, in my opinion.

Although I would put it slightly differently “You’re looking for a fight by openly insulting several guests. I won’t give you the satisfaction, I have too much respect for __(host name)__.”

Graham Shevlin
December 28th, 2008 | LINK

Understanding the appropriate response does require some better understanding of context. For example, did the woman know that there were four gay people in the room when she made her statement about Proposition 8? If she did, then i would be inclined to respond with some variant of “that is very interesting, but I am curious as to why you decided to tell us this.” If she did not know, then I would probably respond along the lines of “you do know that you essentially voted for a measure to abridge the civil rights of a group of people based on sexual orientation. That sounds like discrimination and bigotry to me”.

Sam
December 29th, 2008 | LINK

I’m impressed that you were able to be in the same room with her the entire time. I would have thought about gotten up and left because I couldn’t stand being next to somebody who voted to take my rights away. If nothing would convince this girl that she did something very hurtful and wrong, I would have avoided her the entire time and hopefully never have to see her again afterward.

Besides, based on her polygamy response, it sounds like she wasn’t part of the college educated since they are the ones who are more likely to support gay rights than people who aren’t college educated. I can’t stand dumb people.

EdgyB
December 29th, 2008 | LINK

Is she the type of person who ‘has lots of gay friends’?

I think my response would have been “Yeah, that’s me! Destroying civilization, one romance at a time.” I’ve always had a pretty good time, giving nonsensical answers to crap like this.

Michelle
December 30th, 2008 | LINK

My sister and her wife of a year, partner for 10 yrs, has blown me away w/ her ability to respond to similar party/family gathering comments w/ grace, mercy, love and strength. It is the fruit of her persistent love for those who have rejected her because she is gay, that has led me to change my own deeply rooted fundie beliefs against gay sexual expression in relationships. (ok, that felt like a PC comment…but I’m still learning) Anyway, check out her website and newsclips. I’m so proud of her and her wife, my sisters both of them, for walking from LA to SF to hand deliver a petition to Revoke 8. Never has the gay community had such 2 beautiful, loving and kind people put a face to their beliefs. http://www.revoke8.com

Timothy Kincaid
December 30th, 2008 | LINK

Michelle,

My congratulations to Valerie and Tracie. Their efforts certainly help raise the visibility of real people whom this vile amendment has hurt.

Bobs Friend
January 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Somehow, I don’t think a nicely done group sing of “Oh Holy Night” can put a pretty face on this one.

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