I recently saw the reunion special of Real World: Denver where I saw the whole gang sitting together sharing stories. The interaction of two of the cast members took my attention. These were Davis and Steven. Davis was a gay man who was the victim of religiously-driven verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother. Steven was a strongly religious conservative who opposed gay marriage, and gayness in general. Davis came out to Steven the first episode. They had an initial talk about it, with Steven admitting "I think its wrong that you're gay" and Davis trying counterpoints like "what if I said it was wrong that you're black?" and "you really think God himself faxed down the words in the bible?" There was no change in views (in a two minute talk? please) but both agreed that they would just try to live together without trying to change each others views. They hugged and moved on.
I haven't watched much of the show since then, but I understand there's been the usual Real World over-the-top fights, with all the animosity that TV loves. I'll let someone else blog on that.
What I want to talk about was what I heard from Steven at the reunion as he described his friendship with Davis. Ironically (but just fitting for Real World) Steven's positive words began as a fight with Davis. In my opinion, I'd say Davis was the instigator. The reunion host had asked Steven if he still thought being gay was a choice. Steven said he didn't know, only a gay person would. That was a substantially different answer than what he gave that first day in Denver ("people choose to be gay"). Davis was not satisfied and started making some angry comments, with some baiting: "you think heterosexuals are going to heaven and homosexuals aren't?". He also said, "I'd think by this time you'd have learned something". To which Steven replied, "I'd think by this this time Davis you'd learn to get your head out of your ass and realize your not the only one [struggling]"
Steven was asked again by the host, "did you choose to be straight?" Steven didn't know quite how to answer that one. But he did give this answer:
"I came to this house very close-minded. Over time I learned a lot from talking with Davis. I don't have it all figured out. And I shouldn't be treated as the bad guy for not having it all figured out."
I can't completely judge Davis's anger. I've never walked in his shoes or been a victim of the homophobic family abuse he faced. I think he has a lot to be legitamitely angry about, especially since his mother seemed to have recently deceived him to get him to an ex-gay conversion therapist. So much for redemption.
But Steven is clearly not the threat that Davis's mother was/is. While I do think Davis's suspicions about Steven's "lingering prejudice" are probably true, we the people who oppose homophobia should be embracing Steven's evolution. I mean, how quickly do any of us unlearn everything we've been taught was true? Its easy for us to sit on the outside and find fault with this word or that. But the process of change is, by nature, a slow one and we should be extremely grateful when it does happen.
I hypothesize that there was other shit the two of them fought over. And I'm not qualified to say how much of that shit is worth "getting over". Holding a grudge is a grossly undervalued virtue in my book. I've written a few of mine down to remember.
But we need to keep some measure of control of ourselves and give the people around us the tratment they deserve. This advice doesn't really address the conflict, which I have little understanding of, but I hope that this idea might help to keep a lid on some of the bad words we say.
Because holding back might be all we can do.