I am finding it increasingly difficult to write here lately. I am finding it hard to write in general. There is a magazine I used to write for and I just realized it had been a year since I wrote there.
Part of the problem is that I realize I have been writing to find a hook as opposed to just telling stories. My specific problem here is that I feel like writing in the secular community is like writing in the Christian community in one respect. It often feels like you are tap dancing in a mine field.
I have seen friends who are criticized brutally the higher their profile gets. When they challenge the accusations leveled against them, the response is this weird logic better suited to online trolls then self professed men of reason.
I have run out of things in this world to prove. I’ve no interest in insulting the other paths that people walk unless that path steps on the rights of my son or someone else that I love. I am a parent of a trans youth. That alone is an arduous road. When I am not dealing with court systems and school districts and insurance companies to insure his rights and voice are equal to others, I am having to read the thoughts of secular people and people of faith who would deny or mock him from a space of willful ignorance. These high profile voices remain unchallenged by their peers and fanboys.
We now live in a very scary and very real age of the incoming Trump/Pence administration which has many parents of trans teens concerned. We are watching closely, talking to lawyers and hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.
Now for the story. Because I finally have something to say.
Last night, the woman I am dating wanted me to meet two of her friends. We went out for dinner and drinks with them and then took an an art show. I had my son with me as well. She had not told me a lot about the couple, but she did tell me that I would love them because they are our age, liberal and atheists. Almost all of her friends are as wonderful as she is, so I had no doubt we would have fun.
We did have fun. Tracey and John are delightful people who are both in IT and homeschool. John was interested in my past as a former minister. We had a great dialogue about that. We also talked of camping and hobbies and all the other things you do over dinner and drinks. Then came the transition.Tracey found my son to be fascinating and she asked him some very straightforward and respectful questions about gender identity. I am not sure how long the conversation went on for, but we all got involved. We were all animated and my son was treated as a peer and as the expert at the table in this field. He was also assured many times by more than one of us that if a question was not appropriate, he could say so.
Gender identity, sexual orientation, acceptance, hurts, joys, medication and so much more was discussed. In the midst of this, a parent beamed with pride about how his son conducted himself. Strangers became friends. My girlfriend once again showcased her unconditional acceptance and love for my son. Mutual respect was had by all. We had fun. We will be doing it again soon.
I have a point to all of this.
This is what we need more of. Conversation where all are equal regardless of age, race, or income level. At our table we had various genders, incomes, orientations, races, education levels and ages. None of that got in the way of mutual respect and tone. No one made impossible evidentiary demands like we do so often in our online discussions. No one defended bad behavior and if a question pushed boundaries, the comfort of the person was respected and honored.
If I could write about more enlightening conversations full of beauty and wonder and respect, I would write more. If I knew I could write and not have to worry about a simple disagreement turning out into all out character assassination, I would write more. If I knew I could speak openly about my son or the woman I fall in love with a little more each and every day and not have to worry about their safety, I would write more.
Can we create this community? Can we have these tables? Can we respect each other? Can we disagree without personal malice? Please?
I am just a guy who wants to tell stories, raise my kid and follow this rabbit hole of love and see where it leads. I’ve nothing to prove, but a lot to share. We all do. We are worth listening to. Not everyone here is a scientist or published author. Sometimes we are artists, IT consultants, and even teenagers.
If I am being honest, sometimes it feels safer to be openly secular at a church picnic than it does in our very own online circles.
Thank you for reading. Now go find a table and meet good people.