The Face of Bigotry. ~ Amy Taylor

Via Amy Taylor
on Feb 19, 2013
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Source: via Robin on Pinterest

I want to believe that I am capable of being close to someone who sees the world differently than I do.

After all, isn’t that the mark of an evolved human being? That you can see beyond the differences to the innate, human similarities?

The story about the Indiana teacher promoting a straight prom made me cringe though not for the reason you might think.

See, I know this woman. She’s one of my best friends.

Okay, I don’t really know this particular woman. But I know women like her.

I grew up in the enlightened shadow of Boulder but now call Indiana home. I have plenty of progressive-minded pals, many who hail from other places but some who grew up around here.

I also have friends whose beliefs fit the demographic.

One friend and I stroll through our hilly neighborhood with her dog. Our sons have been close for years.

I brought up the topic of the Boy Scouts, although I should have known better.

My friend is concerned that current policy may be changed to permit gay members and volunteers. The logistics would be a nightmare, she claimed. Where would everyone shower and sleep? What about those boys huddled together, three to a tent, on chilly nights?

Something could happen.

At first, I didn’t know what to say. Then I responded that, of course, predatory behavior—and, really, all sexual activity—must be forbidden.

But, yes, something could still happen. Even between boys who are not gay, or not out.

Eventually, my friend conceded that it might be unkind to ban boys who want to be Boy Scouts. But surely no gay man should be allowed to volunteer since his motives would be suspect.

I felt a growing sense of unease. Did my friend really equate homosexuality with child molestation?

A quiet gulf grew between us.

I want my friend to feel comfortable speaking her truth. Even if I am uncomfortable hearing it.

Still, my gut felt wrung.

This friend is one of my emotional pillars. And yet, it’s clear that she believes people who are gay do not deserve the same privileges and opportunities as those who are not.

Meaning…if my son is gay, she’ll think less of him. And, were I to be widowed or divorced and choose a partner of the same sex, she would think less of me.

I guess I view sexuality as more fluid; I believe we all have a bisexual flicker. My friend buys into a moral code which ranks her higher than others due to her heterosexual marriage—and convinced she has the right to be judge and jury of those who don’t follow this code of behavior.

I love my friend. But I’m ashamed of her bigotry.

So, I’ve been wondering, does this mean I need to backpedal from the friendship?

I want to believe that I am capable of being close to someone who sees the world differently than I do.

After all, isn’t that the mark of an evolved human being? That you can see beyond the differences to the innate, human similarities?

I still love my bigoted family members. But friends are family you choose. What does it mean to choose someone whose beliefs perpetuate harm?

In important ways, our friends help shape who we become.

Still, I didn’t care for the tomato-throwing of the piece I referenced earlier. I don’t think that’s how we should treat one another. I don’t believe there are many terrible people, only misguided and fearful ones.

So, where’s the light? Where’s the peaceful path through this place?

Because right now I’m finding it hard to see.

This is where I intended to stop. And then I heard that voice that asks, like an incessant 2-year-old, “Why?” 

Why does my friend cling to bigoted beliefs? What is she afraid of? 

Well…I’m not sure. There are many possibilities.

She could be afraid of her child being hurt. She could be afraid her child is gay and she couldn’t cope. Maybe she’s concerned about what her community would think or what her God would think.

I know she worries that the structures that support our society seem to be dropping away. Sometimes it seems like everything is changing, and quickly. What will hold us?

I can understand these fears. Some, I share.

So, maybe I don’t need to disentangle myself from my friend. Maybe I can stand in my truth and still find compassion for the reasons she feels the need to stand in a very different one.

Maybe I can focus on our common prayer for a world in which children and families can live in peace.


Certainly I can see that there’s more to “Bigoted Indiana Teacher” than a sound bite.

Like enlightened society on facebook.

Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


About Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor writes about parenting, yoga and other journeys for, GaiamTV, elephant journal and others. Find her biweekly columns here. She completed 200-hour YTT at CITYOGA in Indianapolis in 2008 and teaches classes for all ages at  Community Yoga. When she's not writing or practicing yoga, Amy loves to read, research and have adventures with her husband and twin sons. Follow her on Twitter.


5 Responses to “The Face of Bigotry. ~ Amy Taylor”

  1. michael says:

    As a gay man you need to not judge her but love her from a distance…trust me!

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for your comment. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that my dharma is to reconcile. But I don't want to be part of the problem.

  3. Erin Hart says:

    In the end, compassion for everyone, including those who have blocks in their hearts or minds that keep them from fully loving and accepting other human beings, is the only path for me. But I agree with Michael, loving with boundaries is what keeps one healthy and able to continue being compassionate. If I feel that the conversation or situation is getting too intense, I gently bow out or change the subject so that I'm not actively participating in the judgmental talk. Or, if I think the person is open to it, I will lovingly ask, "How does that belief serve you?" or "Is that belief helping you be your highest and best self?" It's pretty amazing what that one question brings up for folks.

  4. Amy says:

    I will have to work on some questions I could ask. I'm not sure my friend would be receptive to the ones you suggest. But others have encouraged me to consider how I might be a beacon for her. I will continue to think and pray about it. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Jessica says:

    I really needed this article today. Thank you.