Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cultivating Hatred 2: A Perfect Example

Yesterday I received an anonymous comment posted to my blog regarding the Grand Rapids Press article entitled “Warrior Mom.” This comment is just too rich to leave in an obscure location -- I’ve given this message its own post so we can parse it. Here’s the verbatim text:

“to the bloggers, dont believe everything you read. A very important part of that article in the paper is not true, and Mrs. Beighley needs to speak the truth about "her" children....
My son is gay, and my husband and I certianly dont focus on that and that alone as the Beighleys do. They have some REAL issues. GOod luck, and remember to tell the TRUTH. You know what Im talking about, Mrs. B.
oh my, I dont think she will approve this one...........
just goes to show...”

Obviously “readers” are not “bloggers” but we’ll fly past that one.

Let’s dive in. First of all, she writes with such mystery about that which she says is untrue. There is neither further comment nor substantiation. Next.

Onto the “her” children comment: This is some kind of code. Does this refer to my beautiful Ari and Chloe? Well, I was quite present when they were born. They're mine. Or is it a very mean-spirited comment about my stepsons Nate and Collin? If so, I would only say that my relationships with Nathan and Collin are some of the most beautiful gifts I have received in my life and they show me grace and love by calling me “Mom.”

I also consider my daughter-in-law Sarah one of my kids. Is this a challenge to that relationship? If so, I would add that Sarah is one of the great teachers in my life, and anyone who knows her can attest to the fact that she is ferociously loyal to her family. I’m definitely claiming her! As far as children go, I could not forget our beautiful Jeremy who lived with us one winter when living with his own family was no longer possible.

I do not say that these amazing individuals BELONG to me, if that’s the inference. But I would say my life is rich because of each of them. I am grateful to say they are part of my family. And, though I annoy each of them in the ways that mothers do, I sleep just fine at night knowing they would each claim me as well.

Regarding her son being gay: Interestingly enough, in the over 10,000 emails I’ve received in the past three years since Ari’s coming out, when a parent refers to his or her son being gay, it has always been followed by a pronouncement of love. That’s blatantly missing from this writer’s statement.

About the claim our family only focuses on Ari’s being gay, I have this to say. I could read these words and claim that I know something about the writer based on the spelling, grammar, and punctuation challenges presented. But I don’t know her. I don’t know who she loves, who loves her, what she is passionate about. For this writer to say that she knows anything about our family is a statement made in complete ignorance. In fact, if she knew our family, she would never make that claim.

The assertion that our family has real issues and "remember to tell the truth" made me laugh. It brought a visual of some nightmarish first grade teacher standing over a six-year old hoping to shape the child’s behavior by shaming her. The shame thing -- it's a no-go with me. As a family therapist, I believe every family has issues. In fact, those issues are what we call “life” and are woven into the very fabric of our experience. This writer’s statement is both condescending and arrogant … as is calling me “Mrs. B.”

“You know what I’m talking about” is a kind of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” attempted intimidation ... and, again, completely lacking in substance.

David and I have been the recipients of unsolicited and generous media attention in the past year. One of the reasons I believe this is so is that we are willing to lend our names and faces to bring into the light the bigotry that exists in our communities and to say that our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters are not only being denied the basic human rights this anonymous writer enjoys but are also daily the victims of discrimination and hate violence.

“Just goes to show”: Just goes to show what? It just goes to show that writing an anonymous comment which trashes someone’s family is an act of cowardice. It just goes to show that hatred is cultivated in the dark places – in places where people say judgmental, ignorant, arrogant, and condemning words while enjoying complete anonymity -- in places where people put white hoods over their heads and conduct heinous acts.

Labels: , , ,


At March 13, 2008 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Michael in Norfolk said...


As a blogger, I receive nasty comments from time to time, often from religious fanatics. Funny thing is that the person leaving the comment always does so anonymously. They can make the nasty remarks, etc., but lack the guts to attach their name to their statements.

As for the truth? I suspect this woman has a gay son and has NOT accepted him, perhaps because she is a fundamentalist Christian who lacks the willingness to analyze and think through the larger Gospel message: love of God and love of one's neighbors. Rather she clings to a few lines from the Bible written in a far different time and with a far different understanding of sexual orientation. Remeber, the Bible was used to say the earth was flat, that slavery was OK, and that women should be chattel. Not exactly an infallible document.

If such is the case with the writer, it is a very sad thing.

At March 21, 2008 at 11:07 AM , Anonymous Jeannie Radley Miller said...

cI read this persons comments with interest and amazement, mixed in with disgust. She acts like she knows some "secrets" about your personal life and is urging you to come forth, yet she (and yes, I believe it to be a she) is such a coward that she refuses to post her name. Well, so be it. You are above that Colette.
I came across your blog quite accidentally today, while actully looking up Susan Harrison Wolffis, a write I truly admire. I read the Muskegon Chronicle online daily and am always so glad to read Susan's inspiring, touching, hearwarming Human Interest stories. I "knew" Susan through other people we knew in common. I am from W. Michigan initially. In any case, let me tell you that I admire you, Colette.

Had my mother been alive now, she would find much release and support in writing about her OWN gay son, John, who passed away from complication of AIDS 15 years ago this October. John was the light of the family. He was an amazing person and my best friend. His "Gayness" was part of who he was, but did not define him. It did allow him to be more sensitive and less "macho" and we never thought of him as simply gay. It was his sexual orientation, but not his very being.

Being Christians, we accepted John's gay pronouncement when he came out as a true Christian. Would Jesus shy again from gay people? I think not. He loved ALL people from all walks of life.
There are those who have told me that John did not go to Heaven when he died because of his sexual orientation. Let me tell you, I KNOW that he did. A week before he passed, he sat up in bed and spoke, his arms lifted up high. He had been too weak to even move on his own and speech was limited to a weak "yes" or "no". This night he sat up with a beatific look on his face and spoke these words: "Yes, I'm ready" and less than 7 days later, he passed.

The ironic vision we had of John, as he lay dying, his dark curly hair like a halo around his beautiful head, his beard dark against his anguished face. was of Christ, dying on the cross. Jesus, the persecuted one, spat on and thought to be heritical by many and betrayed by his own people, is always having words attributed to him and HE would never have meant them as they are interpreted by people who sin daily, yet are hateful to those they assume to be sinners. Hypocrites in the truest meaning of the word.

I didn't mean to go on and on about my brother or even about our family, as this blog is about your life, but it came out and I guess it had to.

Keep on writing. Your heart is pure and beautiful and your children are fortunate to have you as their mother.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home