Gay for a day

Friday, April 19 is the National Day of Silence sponsored by GLSEN. It is a day of action in which students across the US vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in schools.

But what can old farts like us do? I would like to invite you into a little immersive experiment.

Be gay for a day.

What do I mean by this? Well, this is a bit of a challenge for my straight friends. Those of you with boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives – for the next 24 hours, imagine that the one you love, the planet around which your heart is in orbit, is someone you can not openly acknowledge in any conversation – anywhere. When you are at work, do not talk about your boyfriend or husband. When you are at lunch, don’t mention the Friday night date you are looking forward to. When you are grabbing that mid-morning coffee, don’t talk about your weekend plans with the wife. When you are walking to your car at the end of the day, don’t talk about how much you’d like to hit a happy-hour if only your husband and kids were not near melt-down waiting for you to get home. When your buds are bitching about how their girlfriends are too emotional or when your friends are mooning over their boyfriends – don’t speak of your own romantic frustrations or longings. If you are recently engaged and planning a wedding – don’t talk about the florist you are consulting or the hors d’oeuvres you are considering. If you are married and happen to have a doctor’s appointment where new paperwork is required, don’t answer the marital status question.

Better yet – when you go out to dinner with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife – don’t hold hands, don’t walk arm in arm – don’t even look too long into one another’s eyes. Glance around nervously to check if people are looking before you rest a mere pinky on her hand across the table. Whatever you do, don’t kiss in public. No matter how overwhelming your affection, your love, your passionate commitment – do not display even an ounce of that when you might make anyone else feel uncomfortable or risk your own safety.

So here it is, a challenge – be gay for a day. Really, really – I invite you to give this a try. For 24 hours beginning on the morning of Friday, April 19 live your every moment as if the people you love are just friends, roommates, strangers and then stop back by this blog and share your thoughts and feelings. Leave a note today if you are willing to take up this challenge then return on Saturday to share any thoughts and feelings from your experience.

 

 

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.wordpress.com James Jarvis

    Kimberly,

    I want to thank you for giving the push I needed to finish by blog post on marriage equality. I don’t want to hijack your blog but I would be interested to hear from any of your readers that read it. Because my denomination still does not support marriage equality I am a bit scared about how some people at my church will greet me on Sunday. I think it says something when the one place people are most afraid to speak out in favour of marriage equality is church.

    • Kimberly Knight

      James,

      Thank you for sharing this important post. I deeply appreciate the chance you are taking within your own community. Your courage is amazing and I hope that the people you love will respect your voice. Just in case folk who stop by here can’t find the link here it is http://limpingtowardsgrace.wordpress.com/

  • Matt

    Thank you for yet another insightful post. It felt so familiar too, as it reminded me of something I once said when someone pointed out that being gay isn’t “who I am, but just a part .” It may be only one facet of our multi-faceted beings, but when you feel it is something you have to hide, the time and energy required to keep it out of any and all situations becomes all-consuming. I became very good at hiding when my extended family “wasn’t supposed to know,” and I hope that people who read this will gain a new understanding of what people who are asked to remain in the closet “for the good of the family” are being asked to do.

  • Nikki

    I too am out but I want to share that I still encounter those awkward moments that straight people take for granted. I am a school teacher, kindergarten. I have always been out and when applying for a position I disclose this fact so I don’t waste anyone’s time. I have been so fortunate to have a school that embraces the true meaning of diversity. At the beginning of each year, we introduce ourselves to each other by sharing a family board and mine always includes my wife of almost 19 years, my dog, and my brother (no intentional order). The children ask, “You married a girl?” I answer yes and then they are satisfied. The most I have heard is “I didn’t know you could do that!” When my wife and I decided to renew our vows when it was legalized in California, my class threw us a wedding shower. When I returned, I was informed that a child in my class was pulled out of the school because her complaints about my sharing my relationship with her child fell on deaf ears. She was simply told that she was probably not in the right school. We have children with two mommies and two daddies, I celebrate my family because not only am I proud of it but to make sure they know they should be proud as well! All this to say that even as out as I am, when outside of my inclusive community, when presented with a situation that a straight person wouldn’t think twice about… “Do you have a husband?” I have to think, is this child’s parents going to call social services if I correct her child and say, no, I have a wife? There are times when my wife and I have been invited to a wedding or attending a funeral we have to prepare ourselves for condemnation by the minister. Do we hold hands or do we keep the attention off of us so that her family can mourn without distraction? I usually go with what feels right to me but the fact that I even think about it is something straight people don’t have to experience. Being gay for a day is a wonderful idea to invite our straight friends subtly into our world briefly and offer them a deeper understanding of our fight (for supporters) or a new light for our oppressors.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Nikki, thank you SO much for sharing a small glimpse of your story! I really appreciate your willingness to open up about the nuanced way you are living the life you’ve been created to live. I hope your sharing here is a candle in someone’s darkness.

      Namaste

    • http://limpingtowardsgrace.wordpress.com James Jarvis

      Nikki, I am so moved by what you shared. I am am always amazed by small children and how accepting they are.
      Teach, your parents well, your parent’s hell, will slowly go by.
      with apologies to CSNY

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.wordpress.com James Jarvis

    To all my LGBT brothers and sisters, forgive me for the times I have been silent when I should have spoken out. Most of all forgive me for guarding tongue in the presence of those who use religion as a cover for bigotry and hate. Pray for me as I pray for you. As a matter of conscience I can no longer remain silent for the sake of harmony within the church. So here I stand, I can do other.

    • Kimberly Knight

      James,
      I both appreciate your apology and feel as if it is not entirely right to want it, need it…but I understand from where you speak and I greatly appreciate your heart. Now, let’s not live looking backward at what we could have or should have let’s move forward doing what we know is right when ever we can.

      Peace,
      Kimberly

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Even if I cannot participate in the exercise, just thinking through it as you have described re-emphasizes the difficulties. I continue to support gay acceptance and openness as well as gay marriage.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimgerlyknight Kimberly Knight

      Thank you!

  • Mary

    Hi Kimberly,

    I have not spent a great deal of time on your site but I will say that everytime I have come here that your kindness and honesty touches me. I am not gay and I am not dating either so I can’t really participate in your exercise. However I think that I can imagine some of the pain of being gay. It is not the same thing but I have a mental illness and have had to deal with a lot of ignorant attitudes about that. I haven’t dated much for over twenty years because I am afraid of rejection. I really only feel comfortable in the company of friends that I have made at a mental health social center.

    I know that all this cannot compare to the pain of gay people because they also have to deal with violence against them as well, which breaks my heart. However many people equate mental illness with “evil” so there is a bad stereotype there. Others think it is a “choice” and that you can snap out of it through positive thinking. Basically if you are doing well then it is “proof” that you don’t really have a mental illness. If you are doing badly then it is “proof” that you are selfish, willful and only doing this for attention since you were doing so well before.

    So even though I am not gay I do understand rejection very well. This is why I am always on the side of the underdog and support gay rights. I will say though that I have been extremely naive in the past about the gay struggle for acceptance. I live in California which is a fairly liberal state. For a while I attended a church with a few gay people in it and I never batted an eye. I have always believed that you can’t judge a person without knowing them first. When I did get to know them it seemed obvious that they were good people and that the difference in sexual orientation mattered not at all. It baffles me that people can take one minor difference and blow it up into *A * HUGE * MORAL * ISSUE * and ignore the good in the person.

    Anyway I have been literally shocked at the backlash against gays in the wake of demanding marriage equaltity because I was safe in my cocoon believing that, at least in California, that gays were generally accepted. Part of this is my own fault because I tend to get depressed by the news so I was not paying attention. But the last few years have really opened my eyes. I have always been for the most part politically neutral, but as I have seen the fanatisism of the religious right in regards to many issues I have become a democrate. When they have written into their political platform that gays are out to destroy civilization then that is so patently ridiculous and offensive on so many levels that I cannot and will not ever accept that. Even when I was raised as a conservative Christian and for a little while in my early adulthood I believed that homosexuality was wrong I still never went that far with it. I still felt that it was their business and not mine to decide how to live their lives. Basically if I deny anyone their right to live as they choose then I am denying my right to live as I choose as well.

    Anyway I just wanted to let you know that not all straight people are ignorant assholes. Some people “get it”. Keep up the good fight because I believe eventually these issues will go the way of the whole inter-racial marriage issue. I still believe that most people are reasonable, even though it odesn’t always seem that way. Once they see that their misconceptions about gays are false then they will change their minds. I think this is already happening, especially when people see the kind of ridiculous arguments that people have. How the hell does gay marriage lead to communism? These rubes are just making fools of themselves and a lot of people are seeing right through it.

    Anyway I really like your blog and look forward to reading more.

    Peace.
    Mary

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimgerlyknight Kimberly Knight

      Mary,

      Thank you so much for your support and for sharing so honestly and intimately about your own journey. Everyone’s struggle in this life is hard and equally important so I don’t believe my own pain or oppression is any more or less deserving of love, compassion and healing than yours. I am glad you have a group of friends who do support and love you – truly community is so important.

      Thanks for being at the table and enriching the conversation with your voice.

      Kimberly

    • GarlicClove

      For all of us with mental illness, thanks for speaking out!

  • Jo Malone

    I guess this is a nice sentiment, but the cynic in me equates this to living on $2 a day for a week to see ‘what it’s like’ to live in poverty. It’s easy to live on $2 a day when you have a roof over your head, your car to drive to work, and so on.
    While you’re on your ‘gay for a day’ date, be sure to have random people yell “faggots” or “dykes” at you on your way home. See if your partner can have a small medical mishap so you can see what it’s like to not be included in their medical decisions at hospital. To cap off your romantic evening, see if you can book a hotel room…
    I should lighten up – as of last night, I have the right to marry my partner of 6 years :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimgerlyknight Kimberly Knight

      Jo,
      I completely agree that a mere day of pretending to be like someone else can in no way replicate the full experience of being that other when one knows they can simply stop being the other. My hope though is that by even trying it for a day that people will consider things from a new perspective. I have had many conversations with people about the simplest of things that I can not do as freely as them and they often say “I hadn’t thought of it like that”. This is just another invitation to broaden and deepen folks understanding and move beyond “issues” and closer to people.

      And congrats on winning your right!

    • Andrew

      Jo, I agree with your sentinment. In no way can a 24 hour “experiment” equate what it’s like to walk in fear. I do hope and pray though that when people read this, or when it is shared with them they may ponder what it feels like. They can never understand, just as I can never understand what its like to be black, handicapped, or to not speak English in America… I do understand that these people need love and fair treatment just as we do. You don’t have to be black to understand words that shouldn’t be used, and what is appropriate when communicating. Therefore, yur don’t necessarily need to be gay to feel the pain when “faggot” is hurled at someone. I have many close friends who I believe feel the pain as bad, if not sometimes worse than I do when I am bullied and harrassed. I have become “used to” it, and attempt to shrug it off though… My friends though aren’t, and they’re ready to go to war with those who are disrespectful towards me or other LGBT people. I believe it is Kimberly’s goal to share the what we face and hoping to find empathy in the readers. I know that her paragraph about going to dinner struck a cord with me, as I know what it feels like. That is the life that we face. Thank God, and all the powers that be, that our equality is within our sights, and its a matter of time until we are a more accepting planet. Walk in love today.

  • Laura

    Kimbo, this is a beautiful alternative/addition to the day of silence. I think that the day of silence is a good idea and an important day of protest and awareness raising, but there is something very powerful about experiencing what it is to be silent while in conversation. Queer folks have had to develop the skillful art of avoidance in conversation and in many ways it would be much easier just to not talk at all. Asking folks with hetero privilege to participate in this way shines a spotlight onto a more accurate way that queer folk experience silencing and the survival skill of artful conversational avoidance.

    • Kimberly Knight

      A- wow, my cousins called me Kimbo when I was little – flashback…

      I hope folks will really and truly take me up on this challenge and consider what it feels like.

  • Monica Williams

    Kimberely,

    How do you explain the Bible’s view on homosexuality in Romans or the original creation of marriage in Genesis with Adam and Eve? Thank you for your viewpoint.

    Monica Williams

    • Kimberly Knight

      Monica,

      Please take some time to look at other blog posts of mine and read what many other gay (and ally) Christians have said in response to this question.

      Grace and peace,
      Kimberly

      • http://lesbicrafty.blogspot.co.uk Sonja Faith Lund

        You get questions like this on every post, don’t you?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight Kimberly

          Sonja,

          I do, and the questions like this are rarely actual questions. They are often passive aggressive statements the commenter thinks is a clever way of saying something that they presume I’ve never considered before they brilliantly shed light on the bible in a new and creative way. They are thinly veiled jabs at my own faith and theological integrity. No worries though, I try to answer them every time as long as they don’t cross the line to personal attacks or ugly, hate-laced language.


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