We talk all the time about how much emotional energy it takes to teach people not to be bigoted. It’s unfair. It’s maddening. It’s beyond fucked up that we would have to given all of the resources that are out there for people to learn about the shit themselves.
So many people tell me that they won’t do it anymore. They say that they are tired and that some people just won’t change. They have ample reason to believe this. So many people more educated and more eloquent that I have tried to change the hearts and minds of bigots and have failed.
I will still keep trying. It is because of people like Corey, Caitin, and LJ that I am the person that I am today. At the face of me questioning them, they were patient with me. When I disagreed with them, they were understanding and tried to reason with me.
I will forever be indebted to the people who have done this for me. I would not have the goals that I have if it were not for them. I would not have Kiss the Sky if not for them. I would not translate texts into gender neutral pronouns if they hadn't taught me that my patriarchal mindset was harmful. I would not try to diversify my classroom so that students can learn about members of the LGBT communities experiences. I would not want to devote my life to being a better ally if they hadn't showed me that I needed to. Because of them, I have to try. I have to believe that people can change. I cannot live my life believing that even though I changed, bigoted people have something in them to where they won’t be able to change for the better. I cannot live my life believing that even though I was resistant to changing my bigoted mindset, that other people will be unsuccessful at any and all attempts that I make to think them think differently.
People have been patient with me so I have to be patient with other people. People were understanding about how my experiences made me believe certain things so I have to be understanding to other people. I have to be. I am such a better person because people thought that I was capable of changing. I would have been worst off. I would have been less happier and less fulfilled if people hadn’t been kind to me. I have to be kind to others and give them the same thing that others gave me. That sort of love and kindness is priceless. When you have it and really really appreciate it, you have to give the same things to others. There is just something about understanding how valuable it is to have people take the time and energy to help you decolonize your mind. There is something about understanding how valuable it is that calls for me to give the same thing to other people.
But also, I don’t know how I could be a christian and not try. God says to love people and to forgive them as God has forgiven us. These people who sin against me, who hate me, whose actions opress me and those that I love, deserve forgiveness and love.
I think about when the pastor does the alter call. I think about how guilty I have felt about sinning against God, about sinning against God’s people. I think about the overwhelming love God has covered me with at those alter calls. I think about how God’s love and grace filled me up with joy and peace. That sort of joy and peace called me to forgive myself and love myself in a way that I was still responsible for my actions but that I was not overcome with disdain for myself at what I had done. That is the most special gift from God, that God loves me so much that all God wants to do is to be closer to me, to develop a relationship with me so that I can live right and live well. My dream is for bigoted people to have that as well. I don’t necessarily mean that I dream for them to be saved. (I do) I am specifically saying that I want others to attain this sort of absolution in a way that they can be forgiven for it. I want them to be able to understand how their identity, beliefs, and actions have harmed others. I want them to change . As and advocate with God, I feel that it is my duty to give them that by helping them to question their beliefs through my teachings, lifestyle, interactions with others, and my writings.
Maybe I am a fool but I have to believe that people can change because other people believed in me and because that is just what it means to be a christian.