Thursday, March 01, 2007
You're Someone Who Hates People You Don't Know...
Our December holiday party was attended by a diversity of people. These included four people in particular:
Emma and Katy are two lesbian women who have been together for three years are and formalizing their commitment to one another with a celebration and wedding ceremony this April. Sam and Bobby are two mentally challenged men, both in their late 50’s, who accidently met each other 3 years ago when they became roommates in a supervised living program. They have developed a friendship bond I expect will be life long.
Sam is Emma’s cousin. Emma drives 120 miles every Saturday to visit Sam and help him with his needs. She has gotten to know Bobby pretty well and after some concern and forethought, she has decided to invite them both to the big event.
I have some role as a case manager in this constellation. In checking with Sam’s family, I called the Rehab. House Manager, James, to ask him to gently evaluate and talk to Sam and Bobby about the fact that they will be attending a lesbian wedding. This seemed important for the comfort of all, including Sam and Bobby.
This is what happened when I spoke with James yesterday:
James: “kj, It’s already come up. Bobby was brought up to believe that gay people are child molesters. He said he could never like a person who is gay. I told him someone in this house is gay and he said that can’t be true because he likes everyone here”.
James: "Bobby told me, ‘That can't be true. I don’t know any gay people.’”
James: “So I told him, then you’re someone who hates people you don’t know.”
James to kj: “ We talked about people who are gay, about whether they are different from anybody else and why some gay couples would want to make commitments to each other and become a family. Then I explained about Emma and Katy. Bobby was shocked. He said, “But how can they be good people if they’re gay?”
James continued, “We talked some more. Finally I said, 'Bobby, you’re bigoted. You can’t go to that wedding'.”
I was ready to thank James. He had told me what was important to know. But then he said,
“kj, Bobby sought me out a few days later. He came up to me and said,
Bobby to James: “James, I was wrong. I like Emma. I know she is a good person. I want to go to their party.”
James: “Ok, Bobby. Then you should go. They would like you to go. That is why they invited you.”
James to kj: "It's been a good thing, kj. All the way around".
“You’re someone who hates people you don’t know.”
I’ve never heard bigotry and homophobia expressed so simply. I found myself relieved by such simplicity. Perhaps this is the #1 reason for so many problems and misunderstandings in the world.
I’ll be at Emma and Katy’s celebration in April. Jb and I will probably sit with Sam and Bobby. I’m happy to say that I imagine our biggest challenge will be reminding Bobby to eat with his mouth closed. Not so bad for another small step in a few simple lives….