Thursday, July 2, 2009

Are We Human, Or Are We Dancer?

I have a lot of Mormon friends. It's where I come from. It's where I've spent the past several years. It's who I'm related to. There's just no way around it--I have a lot of Mormon friends.

I met a lot of my Mormon friends as a missionary. I was really close to a lot of other missionaries. Like Elder C. He was a new missionary who lived in my last apartment. We got along great. We were friends. He didn't get back from his mission until a few months ago. When he got back, I added him on facebook. He didn't accept my invitation. Today I went on his profile to decide whether I should try again. I noticed that he is a "fan" of "Protect Marriage: One man, One woman." I decided not to add him again.

It's not that I don't think we can't be friends anymore because he opposes my future marriage. In fact, I'd say it's more that I assume he doesn't want to be friends because he opposes my future marriage. And the problem is going to get bigger. I have a lot of Mormon friends who oppose my future marriage. These friendships are clearly strained. I don't hide my political beliefs by any stretch of the imagination. But friends can disagree about politics and still be friends.

What happens when I announce an engagement or when I get married? What happens to these friends? Some of them may take the initiative and terminate our friendship. That will hurt. But what about those that don't? Can I be friends with someone who opposes my marriage? If I were a straight, active Mormon who married in the temple, would I be able to be friends with people who opposed temple weddings and thought they were of the devil? Is this the same? Unlike that scenario, the friends I have who oppose gay marriage actually have the power to outlaw my marriage in states like California.

So is it fair for me to delete (facebook makes it all sound so clinical) friends who are against my way of life? That would be hard for me. But can I justify being friends and maintaining acquaintanceship with people who want to deny me what will make me happy? I don't know, but I think it is sad that I have to ask these questions. I wonder what things would be like if I had gone to the Art Institute of Boston and made friends with people who support me. What if my newsfeed reported on people who were like me instead of people who hate people like me?


D-Train said...

That's a difficult situation. If you delete them, it gives them the satisfaction of knowing that YOU do not want to be friends with them, and makes them feel that you are being "immature" or "juvenile." I personally have made a conscience effort not to delete anyone, though it has been tough. I have restricted what one person can view on my page after a long string of anti-gay comments. He was a friend from the mission and he knows that I am gay.

I have never officially "come-out" on Facebook, though many of my Mormon friends are aware, and anyone with an IQ over 28 should be able to piece it together after everything I have posted. More than a few have complained that I seem to only post about one thing, at which point I invite them to delete me. More than a few have taken me up on the offer, at which point I usually like to publicize such events. I think it makes other Mormons hesitant to drop me, though I am sure at this point there are more than a few who have just blocked everything I say and hardly remember that they are friends with me. Many whom I still respected will not respond to my emails or posts, which lets me know that they are over me.

I guess my advice would be to not delete them, but to make posts in which you solicit input from Mormons about what you should do. I promise you that more people are reading your notes than you think. I never thought very many people read mine, but everybody I run into mentions my posts, and MANY have emailed me personally.

So I guess I say, don't delete them. Be the bigger person but let them know that if they want to delete you, they are more than welcome to. I sure don't add any more of the phony Mormon friends though. I mean really, if they will fight against my biggest source of happiness, are they really "friends?"

Alan said...

Christians are supposed to love everyone and try to overcome their own fears & prejudices, not punish others for them. So don't delete any friends just over this. If someone chooses to fall short of the ideals they espouse, let it be someone else, not you.

You can't control reactions to your future marriage, you can only control how you respond to them. I'd say the same thing, don't delete any FB friends over it. If some friends choose to sever the friendship over your marriage, yes of course you'll be sad. But you won't be the one who acted in an un-Christian way. And for those who don't, even though things might seem strained, I think the best you can do is try to act yourself as if nothing has changed. Treat them as you always have, with care and respect. You will be the human face of what may have previously been for them a purely theoretical issue in which it used to be easy to demonize the other side. You may make it much harder for them to keep doing that, and your example may change hearts and minds and eliminate some prejudice. It is never easy to be part of the vanguard, but that's often where heroes are made.

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

The main problem I have is not that people I knew and used to have relationships with don't have the same social/political/philosophical beliefs as me, but that they both want and have donated money and time to take away my civil rights.

To me, no matter how much you disagree with a person, once you step over the line to actively harming them and taking away their rights because they're just *too* different, they've already terminated the friendship.

Personally, it seems immoral to me to just let someone behave that way, and not call them out, fight back, and show them that there are real-world consequences to their intolerance.

I don't think that telling someone that if you try to dehumanise me just because I'm different that I can't be your friend is "un-Christian". I just don't think that's a good argument against standing up to oppression.

I think more than just defriending someone, a better tactic is to talk to them, either in person, or by sending them an e-mail, and tell them that they've really hurt you, that their actions are limiting human rights, and that is unacceptable, or whatever. It may not help right away, but I think they'll eventually start to realise that they made the wrong decision, or at least they'll realise that the consequences of fighting against gays means hurting real people they know, and perhaps even like/love.

Bravone said...

Daniel, One of the 'blessings' I experienced, by losing my faith and engaging in activities that jeopardized my membership in the church, is the realization that truly good people can be found almost anywhere. I learned to appreciate the diversity in our society. I came to respect others' use of their agency.

I am slowly regaining my faith, but I hope I never lose the valuable lessons of tolerance and truth I learned along the way.

Jay said...

It may be possible he is a "fan" so he can have access to posting things on the wall. Just a possibility...not a highly likely one... but there was one chat string that interested me and I had written a paper on the genetics of homosexuality so I became a fan so I could post a few things.

Daniel said...


He is also a fan of Boyd K. Packer, Missionary Work, and Jesus the Christ (depicted by the apocryphal work of Del Parson)

Der Orgelspieler said...

That's all very yucky indeed. I think it's unfortunate that, regardless, there will be people that should be your friends but will be very openly opposed to what you wish to have. Which, conveniently, is something they can have and never be in danger of losing. You, on the other hand, are at the disadvantage, and it makes it frustrating. Sigh...but just remember, Mormons are Christians. They don't hate the sinner, just the sin...aka BS...