I had an experience a few weeks ago that made me realize just how lucky i am to live a fairly prejudice-free life. I am generally surrounded by non-prejudiced people in a fairly non-prejudiced town, at least to the point where something like this actually took me by surprise which is a good thing.
I was at a band gig when one of my band mates was talking about his family trip to Disneyworld. This individual is a very generous generally great guy but he’s also an old country boy farmer. Sometimes these things just don’t seem to go together, such as when him, his wife and their teenage daughter were talking about how they happened to be at Disneyworld for gay pride day. And, oh my goodness, they were surrounded by GAY PEOPLE! Shock! horror! And, I quote, “It was disgusting!”
I sat there kind of fuming trying to figure out exactly how to handle this. I had no idea what to say or do. I wanted to speak up but in a non-confrontational way that would hopefully reach them and make them think instead of just alienating them but I just couldn’t think of anything to say. I ended up muttering sarcastically, “Oh no, gay people,” but no one really heard and I didn’t want to make a point by repeating it or whatever. I think the real shame is that their daughter, who is a bright, intelligent girl, is having this kind of thing put in her head.
There are so many people in the world and the vast majority of them are going to be different from you in at least some ways. Sometimes you have close friends who are good people and yet have some pretty major differences from you. Sometimes that can be really hard. I actually wondered, albeit only briefly, “Do I really want to be in a band with people like this?”

1 Response

  1. Jess says:

    Yeah, I’m very familiar with this feeling. I particularly hate being in a situation where people read me as being on ‘their side’ (eg. straight, or gentile) and start on their tirade of bigotry, expecting me to fall in line agreeing with them. Makes me feel like I need a shower.
    There are many people who are otherwise ‘nice’ or ‘well-meaning’ or ‘it’s just the way they were brought up’ or whatever, but really I don’t think it excuses the way people think. And I definitely don’t feel comfortable tacitly condoning it by keeping the peace. So I guess it may lose me some friends here and there, but if that’s what they would ditch me over, I’m better off without them. Someone who’s a real friend will make an effort to respect your point of view.
    Of course the other side of this coin is the effect that you often get where, in trying to get along with you, they still hold all the same old views, but they’ve managed to interpret your objection as “you mustn’t say that in my presence.” As if just sweeping it under the carpet actually helps, especially if they’re teaching their kids the same things.

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