I’m a former Eagle Scout, a former U.S. Air Force officer, and a Vietnam veteran. I’ve attended church regularly for over 60 years. I married my high school sweetheart. Together, the two of us raised three wonderful children who share our same values. Our eldest son is gay, and he married another man. We wouldn’t change a thing about our family.”
Don’s story is only one of many highlighted in a multimedia awareness campaign launched by the Cimarron Alliance, Central Oklahoma’s premier gay advocacy organization. In a video series, gay Okies and the people who love them talk about who they are: your neighbors, friends, co-workers, family.
Don loves his gay son, as does Kay, a former schoolteacher. Lisa, a Republican, called her gay brother her mentor and her hero. Gay people are loved by their families, these videos tell us, and they love their families right back. They love Oklahoma and America. They will not be the architects of the nation’s downfall; they do not aspire to be.
This is not a culture war. These simple, quick monologues serve only to say, “Hello. This is who we are.”
And still, “culture warriors” stand on an imagined battlefield hurling bombs: Bible verses, distortions, untruths. (I promise you not a single gay person wants to recruit 2-year-olds.) The other side — hurt, wounded, afraid — responds in kind. The common wisdom is that the first side to give a little, show humility or share goodwill, will be defeated and devoured.
The fact is, the two sides of the divide may never reconcile. But Scripture promises, in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3, that “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
We can be those people. We can find homeless people to feed. We can find elderly people living through a heat wave without air conditioning or fans. Let’s find those who are hurting and frightened the most in our city, and alleviate just a soupçon of their suffering.
There’s only a culture war as long as think there has to be one, as long as we all agree not to cooperate. As long as we keep calling our disagreements a “war,” that’s what we have: a war. Waging a war against our neighbors — against our own family — is a road to somewhere worse than nowhere. Human history shows this time and time again; Scripture and our higher natures admonish us to be better.
The people in this campaign don’t hurl insults, demand theological or political advancement, make accusations of hatred or bigotry, or declare bombastic visions of America’s downfall.
“Here we are. Hello.” A gentle declaration and introduction is the purpose of the campaign, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of gay Okies and the people who love them. They hope to get a “hello” in return, and then maybe just a friendly wave, an invitation to lunch, a Christmas card, a smile.
We may never agree, but these can be our sacraments. Amen.
Gunter is an Oklahoma City-based writer.