Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before—I took down a previously published blog post.
Last week I wrote about Kim Davis—as have so many. It was a tongue in cheek piece poking fun at her misguided “religious freedom” crusade. However—while the humor was aimed in her general direction, it was not really meant to be about her. I meant to shed light on the absurdity of her claims in general—and to make light of her voice, in particular, in a way that I hoped would be healing for those who are hurt the most by her brand of bigotry.
But in the week since I posted that article, the Kim Davis “joke,” as it appears on the national stage, has become a joke about all women who dress like her; a joke about all Christians; and a joke about all Kentuckians.
Being a Christian woman from Kentucky—I did not want to play that any more. I knew and loved far too many women growing up who looked and dressed just like her; or who were raised by women who did. I know and love far too many corners of Kentucky where that particular brand of faith still reigns. And I know that these people are not evil. They are often victims of a particular time and place that limits the way in which they see the world; and the opportunities they have to see past it.
I took down my post, not because I felt like I should be “nicer” (I don’t); but because, for one thing, this whole story has become a caricature of my home; and also because, in the grand scheme of the public narrative about marriage equality, this moment in history has become about one person. And that is too easy.
It is too easy to say, “Kim Davis is so backward/delusional/hilarious,” and excuse the rest of us from being part of issue at hand. She might be the current face of homophobia—but she is absolutely not the problem.
The problem is that with any social change comes the last violent death cries of privilege. It happened when women wanted to vote; it happened when black people wanted to sit at the counter; it happened when America elected its first president of color; and it’s happening now, as marriage equality becomes the rule and not the exception. I’m beginning to see–and I bet you are, too—people who never had an ill word to say about gay people, getting angry that “they have to be so in-our-face about everything now!” Wondering “why it has to be such a big deal?” and “why the states can’t just decide” and “when can we go back to don’t-ask-don’t-tell, because everybody was happier then?”I know these folks, and you do too. They are our neighbors, our friends, the family that we love. They are members of our churches (yes, even our “open and affirming” churches). They might even be us, in some little corner of our privileged worldview. The rise of the other is never met with loud unanimous applause.
But the rise of the self-proclaimed martyr? Yes, THAT will be met with loud, unanimous applause. And a rousing chorus of “Eye of the Tiger,” apparently.
For the love…
IT’S NOT ABOUT HER.
What I see when I look at Kim Davis is a woman whose whole life has been manipulated and defined by the rigid gender roles of fundamentalism. That is what her hair and jumper say to me, and it’s not so funny when that harmful fundamentalism garners such loud and public support.
I also see the ill effects of a self-indulgent media fiasco; one that has descended upon a small town in Eastern Kentucky that is ill-equipped to handle the exposure and the traffic.
And I see, hovering there in the wings, a sea of opportunistic politicians who—make no mistake—could give a $*^t less about who marries who. Don’t get me wrong, the Huckabees and the Cruz-es and the like are no friend to the LGBT crowd—but also, they aren’t REALLY in it for Jesus. They are simply the face of the values vote, and they know where to show up for some good exposure, and maybe a little barbeque. They aren’t in it for Jesus, and they sure as hell aren’t in it for Kim Davis. If anything, she may be a victim in all this.
Because for all that she has “sacrificed,” it’s not about her. It’s never BEEN about her. And all the jokes meant to detract from her position or make light of her authority—which, let’s face it, is troubling—have only served to MAKE it about her. And the teeming masses crying religious freedom have only fed her delusions that she is somehow the face of a legit movement.
This is a defining moment in history. The more we make of her–whether we are making fun, or making a martyr–the more we diminish the importance of this shift in the narrative; and the more we limit our ability to take part in the real change it marks in our history. Time to dim the spotlight, call home the circus, and do the hard work of transformation in our own communities. Maybe even in our own selves.