Written on September 16, 2014
I don't like Christians...which is ironic, considering I am one. I find it far easier to like, and even love, my atheist and agnostic friends. Of course, it's easy to love my Christian friends who support me; the ones who believe it's perfectly okay that God made me gay. But the ones who spew such hatred toward me, are hard to love.
Tonight, I like Christians even less than normal. Tonight, I am ashamed. I am ashamed of the city I love. The city I have chosen to make my home. Just earlier this year, I wrote a post praising the actions of our Board of Aldermen after Starkville became the first Mississippi city to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. However, tonight, I have no praise for them; only shame and disappointment for the cowardice they displayed.
For the last three hours, I have found myself sitting in an unbearably uncomfortable chair listening to scripture and hateful rhetoric. Surprisingly, I wasn't in church. I was at a Board of Aldermen meeting. Although, one attendee did tweet that if they would just go ahead and serve communion, she could just skip church this week. Like a good Baptist, I tweeted back an “Amen, sister!” and told her to pass the collection plate.
The Board of Aldermen thrust the city into controversy once again this month when they passed what has become known as the “Plus-one” insurance coverage option. The basic idea was that a city employee could add one adult to their insurance coverage, without having to take out a substantially more expensive family plan. Likewise, a single parent could cover a child in the same manner. It was supposed to save hundreds of dollars a month for our severely underpaid city employees who found themselves needing to cover someone without needing the full family plan.
The coverage was originally passed unanimously; an accomplishment that was applauded by many in the national media. From the Washington Times to the Advocate, our quaint little town was getting positive media coverage for something that didn’t involve a touchdown or teen pregnancy rates. Several aldermen claimed to not know what the phrase “plus-one adult” meant and after a shameful meeting tonight, they amended the plus-one coverage to only cover legally married heterosexual couples.
It was shameful for a number of reasons. From the bigoted comments of many citizens to the internal fighting and accusations thrown about by Aldermen; it broke my heart for my beloved city. I stood before the board and voiced my opinion. I even included a quote from Plato, which I was quite proud of and referenced the proud Baptist tradition of separation of church and state. Then, I sat and listened to the opinions of all my fellow citizens who elected to speak on either side of the issue.
It was brutal. My blood boiled at many comments, as fellow citizens questioned our faith and told us that we could not be Christians. They quoted and often misquoted scripture out of context to twist it to support their own hatred. But the one recurring comment that got me more angry than any, is the “I have a gay friend, but…,” type comments. It always makes me angry when I hear those words, because rarely do those individuals show me love. It sounds much like another phrase I’ve heard quite a bit in my lifetime; “I’m not racist. I have black friends, but…”
There are times, well most of the time, when I am basically an overgrown kid. While my friends may go out and drink to relieve their stress, I relieve mine by watching cartoons. Personally, I'm a fan of the classics; Buggs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Tom and Jerry, and far too many others to name.
One of my favorite recurring characters in the Bugs Bunny cartoons is Hugo, the abominable snowman. In one scene, Daffy Duck was dressed up like a rabbit when he had an unfortunate first meeting with Hugo. Hugo, eager to love a cuddly little bunny, grabs Daffy proclaiming, “Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him...” Daffy struggled to free himself from Hugo trying to convince him that he was not, in fact, a rabbit; while Hugo was literally squeezing the life out of him.
I often feel a little like Daffy; having the life squeezed out of me while Hugo-esque Christians are trying to make me into a bunny rabbit. I find it difficult to love the Hugos in my life. I struggle to find love for Tony Perkins, Anita Bryant, Bryan Fisher, Fred Phelps, and even the couple who was sitting next to me at tonight's meeting. Love is a struggle sometimes and I don't think it makes me a bad Christian to admit that. I think it makes me an honest one.
Melissa Grimes is a graduate (and now employee) of Mississippi State University, and a resident of Starkville, MS. She is involved with Spectrum, the LGBTQ group on campus, and an active member of University Baptist Church. You can reach her by email at email@example.com .