I've reposted this a few times since it was originally written in 2005. Each time I repost it, it always makes me feel as it did when I first wrote it...empowered. I know some of my friends and family are having a difficult time with my recent admission of being a "nonbeliever" (please insert label of choice here). I'm struggling with it also because it feels so foreign to finally be free of living a lie. I feel alone and I think it's human nature to seek out like-minded people, but in doing so, I find I have a growing need for the people who love me and who have journeyed through life with me to at least feel the same amount of tolerance towards my beliefs as I have for theirs.
The cage bird sings for freedom. It sings as a disguise. It sings because if it remains silent, it will fade away and die. Many times I have tried to place myself in other people's shoes especially those people who feel as if they have to hide or cover up who they really are or conceal the lifestyle they have chosen to live because they fear the stigma and rejection attached to it. I grew up being the black sheep of the family, but even the antics of a black sheep doesn't come close to type of reaction created by someone who is homosexual. I can almost understand why some people try to lead a straight life, be something they are not and never feel comfortable enough to reveal who they really are. The inner turmoil must be devastating. Yes, I know all those who say horrific things about homosexuality. I've heard all the arguments...all the pros and cons!!! I guess my views on the subject allow me to see the person as a human being and not as some perverted demon or freak of nature.
Several years ago my mother made a strange statement to me one day. She told me that I had changed her views on homosexuals. Me? I'm straight....how did I do that? She asked me if I remembered the day I first learned that one of my female cousins was a lesbian. I thought back to that day 30 something years ago and remembered what an uproar within the family that announcement had caused. Hey, at the time I probably felt relieved because the focus wasn't on me and the gossip was centered elsewhere! Yes, I remember being told! My mother asked me if I remembered what I said to her when she told me about my cousin. I thought back, but I couldn't remember my initial reaction. My mother refreshed my memory by telling me that I informed everyone in the room that my cousin was the same person as she was the day before they all knew she was a lesbian. As far as I was concerned, nothing had changed.
My mother said my words stuck with her and she knew what I had said was true. She stopped labeling my cousin and allowed her to continue being the person we always knew her to be. That acceptance broadened in time and allowed my mother to view others with different preferences and lifestyles as being just as human as she is and it made me smile knowing the black sheep can be pretty sagely at times.