Caitlyn Jenner

Friends Who Make Me Think

I love having friends who make me think—make me think new thoughts, thoughts I hadn’t considered before. Sharon is such a friend to me. I’ll come back to this in a moment. But first…

I went to the dermatologist this week. A “thing” near my temple looks like it might be a basal cell carcinoma. They took a biopsy. Oh, the joys of growing up on the sunny Gulf coast and paying for it years later! (Wouldn’t trade it for anything!)

Caitlyn JennerAt any rate, the office was all abuzz about Caitlyn Jenner’s photo on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. I admit the transformation really was rather unexpected: I didn’t even recognize who it was at first glance, just a beautiful woman. But the ladies at the dermatologist’s office were having a difficult time with it.

She is beautiful! But, oh, you know they airbrushed her. That was nothing but Photoshop!” said one.

She’s probably right. Graphic artists airbrush and retouch/remake everything we see in print, online, and on TV. Few people appear in these media as they really are.

Another had a less respectful approach, that hinted at jealousy, as she spoke with a haughty tone,

I don’t care what anyone says. He‘s always going to be a “he” to me.”

Bruce Jenner when youngNow, I freely admit, I don’t understand why a person born as a guy would feel any desire, or, even more intensely—a need to be a woman. And, nothing against being a woman, the reverse is equally outside my capacity to understand. I simply can’t get my head around that.

Another case in point: a GA high school principal this year had to work through a male student who is sexually attracted to females who has begun the sex change process to become a female because he identifies with himself as a lesbian. He will keep his same girlfriend who just came out to her parents as a lesbian. I mention the principal working through this because the male (soon to become female) student wanted to come out as trans at school, and the principal wanted to do everything s/he could to make the school a safe place for that student. Again, this is something I just can not understand. But, must I?

It took me maybe 30ish years to get to a point in my life where I no longer felt a need to understand everything. Somehow I naïvely thought I should and would understand everything in my life’s path. Boy, was I naïve back in the day.

Then today, my friend, Sharon, posted this on her Facebook timeline:

Is it that important to us that people present a persona I am personally comfortable with, or is it okay for each person to live in his or her own authenticity? Am I going to assess each person’s value based on my own comfort level or on whether they hew to what my deeply-held religious beliefs might dictate for others inside that faith system, or can I have a big enough heart to embrace others with a different or wider experience?

Is it important that your particular religious community speak hatefully of Caitlyn, when she is harming no one, and if it is, is it important that that same community is defending a young man who molested his sisters? And if so, again, perhaps there are conversations we could be having, because there is disconnect there. Caitlin, to my knowledge, doesn’t claim to be a spokesperson for Jesus, while the child molester of whom I speak does claim that. If you are harshly commenting on Caitlyn who is only living her own life and not harshly commenting on the Duggars who are defending a molester, this is something to think about.”

Sharon is an author of children’s books and an attorney. She is bright, beautiful, sensitive, and articulate. She posted another completely unrelated thing this week that made me stop and think, too—about music. I’ll write about that later.

We seem to be in a new era in this country, a time when if we don’t approve of something, it becomes a personal assault to us. We now seem to feel entitled to lash out, even physically, when someone is hurting no one, is just living their life. And if their life offends our sensibilities, we feel entitled to make them change by any and all means available to us. I don’t understand that either.

When we have an uncomfortable feeling about someone, that does not an assault on us make. A feeling is a feeling. Feelings can certainly be very powerful, but they exist in a completely different space than physical or sexual assault. And, we are not entitled to change anyone because we don’t like how they make us feel.

And when someone does physically or sexually assault another person, especially another person who is vulnerable to them, that is just flat out wrong and deserves harsh condemnation and redress.

This staggering level of hypocrisy (condemn Caitlyn but defend Josh) is the very reason people are fleeing Christianity in this country by the millions.

Thanks, Sharon. You make us think. Sometimes you hold up a mirror, so we can see ourselves more clearly. Sometimes we shouldn’t like what we see and should desire to change.

3 thoughts on “Friends Who Make Me Think”

  1. Good essay. Don’t understand the Hatred. Understand the Curiosity, understand the possible Discomfort (we each have our Accumulated Personal Matching Luggage), can even understand discomfort so troubling it leads to Avoidance. But why would you hate a person or thing that is Harmless, not Threatening in any way? Or are we talking threatening? Is the Hater so precariously a part of the Universe that a quirk of biology or ideology or philosophy or any other of our many possible differentiations is so dangerous as to engender Hatred? What a sad and constricted twilight world the hater must live within. “Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in ‘t!”

  2. Tim,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. It was only a few years ago I too was an unreconstructed fundamentalist, but I’ve had the opportunity to get to know you and others who have helped me to understand gay people as people to be loved and valued. Thank you for impacting my life in this positive way.

  3. We are all unique individuals…no two the same. We are each created for our own purpose and our own talents to be shared and enjoyed by one another. I believe it is what God intended. To be allowed to be FULLY who we are is the completion of His most beautiful gift, that of LOVE!

    Oh, and by the way, WOE to whomever attempts to stifle that!

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