Let’s stop excusing bad, hateful, bullying behaviour with “everyone is entitled to their opinion”.

My best friend is one of the kindest, most supportive, hilariously witty, genuine people I know. She is strong, amazingly intelligent and organised enough to be well travelled on top of everything else.

She has been by my side through every heart break, every life crisis, and has been there to celebrate with me through every achievement, every joy, every new love, every exciting opportunity.

She has been a rock for me during my darkest times, loved me when I didn’t know how to love myself and never once said I told you so. (Even though she absolutely could have at LEAST 277 times over the years of friendship.) She is the best kind of human and I thank my lucky stars for her every single day.

My best friend is also gay.

In all my life, I have never seen more bad behaviour excused on the basis of ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’ than when it comes to peoples sexuality.

She is currently living in Australia, where they are holding a referendum on whether or not to consider legalising gay marriage. It has been going on for months with the final closing date being November the 7th.

While it has been going on, I have listened as she has cried and broken heartedly sent me pictures of hurtful mail that has been put in her letterbox, of billboards that have been erected with incorrect statistics about children of gay parents, of the hateful images she has come across, and the ads that she has seen on television, urging people to vote no.

I have never seen her in more pain than I have these last few months.

I grew up in a religious family. I went to all girls Catholic schools, from the very beginning of my school days. I know the beliefs that lead to the religious disagreement with gay marriage.

I don’t agree with them – I don’t believe that who someone else loves affects anyone but those two people. But. I am also a firm believer in the basic human right to an opinion, to their own beliefs and the right to express those beliefs.

What I do not believe in, is using personal attacks, ugly words, hateful names, and rage to get those beliefs across.

I don’t believe in allowing yourself the right to hold a belief and then horrifically denying other people the right to express theirs because it is different with bullying, threats of violence or intimidation.

I remember the day my best friend told me she was gay like it was yesterday. We had known each other for all of our high school years, but only became close after we both took a year off before heading to University and ended up working together. It had been a few months and we had plans to ‘hang’ one weekend. She arrived, not her usual self. She seemed off, but I couldn’t figure out why. Until we sat down and she said she had something to tell me. She was so afraid.

The conversation went a little along the lines of:

Her: “I think I’m gay.”

Me: “OH, is that all?! I know!”

We laughed, and she cried a little and we joked about it and then got on with our day of fun.

Even now, after all this time, she thanks me for the way I reacted that day. A thanks that at first I didn’t understand. A thanks I felt was so completely unnecessary because her sexual orientation didn’t suddenly change the incredible friend that I had sitting in front of me.

In the years since, I have watched, listened to and discussed other peoples coming out stories and sobbed as I’ve heard them talk about the friends and family that have disowned them, walked away from them, shut them out from their lives, for being brave enough to say out loud, who they truly are. I’ve come to understand the gratitude she expresses so often and I’ve come to understand the fear in her eyes that day, all those years ago.

It’s human nature to be afraid of the things we don’t understand, but on the other side of every hateful comment, every incorrect statistic thrown around, every hate flyer passed out, every hurtful billboard erected, every nasty comment on Facebook, is someone – hundreds of someones even, taking it all in, reacting to it all. Dying a little more inside each time.

The only way that we are ever going to be able to live in a world where people aren’t discriminated against for the colour of their skin, the level of education they have received, who they fall in love with, their religion, or how they dress, is if we learn, if we teach our children to love people for who they are. For the kind of friends they are, for the way they treat others, for the good choices they make and the way they treat other people.

We all have the right to disagree with anything we like, hold our religious and political beliefs, stand by them if no one has ever been able to give us a good enough reason to change our minds. It can be easy to get worked up, it can be easy to feel like the opposite of what we feel so strongly must be wrong, but we have a responsibility to express our views fairly. There can be passion without hatred.

Fight for what you believe in, but fight fair, fight honestly.

Our differences are what make the world such an incredible and beautiful place.

With all the terrorism, the natural disasters, the uncertainty going on in the world, we could all do with spreading a little more love, a little more acceptance, a little more kindness.

Let’s stop excusing bad, hateful, bullying behaviour with “everyone is entitled to their opinion”.

dee

4 replies on “Fight If You Must, But Fight Fair

  1. Great Post. Your right not everyone is as supportive as you were to your best friend. Our oldest daughter has come out to us, telling us she is Bisexual. I said something along the lines of “I kind of suspected” and then we went about our day. I told her father, he said ok cool, and that has been it. It does not change our amazing daughter into someone we don’t know!
    Our youngest daughter came home the other day and told us that one of her friends (12 years old) told her father she wants to be a boy, he apparently took her phone and smashed it into the floor, and she is now not allowed to go to any friends houses. I ask you how is this going to change anything, besides making her retreat into herself and hide who she truly is. I really do not understand some people.
    Thanks for your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It makes me so sad that this is some people’s reaction. Especially when it’s that of a parent. Our voices, the words we choose, the way we react to situations, we shape their inner voices without even realising. It’s our job to be our kids biggest fans. If only to teach them how to be their own!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If so many hadn’t been hurt, We could laugh at the stupidity and misconceptions about what people like to to do with each other’s organs. Unfortunately, the situation is anything but. I hope your friend’s father understands rather than her having to wait to be of age to tell him where to go with his bigotry.

    Liked by 1 person

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