My grandfather’s much-younger brother, he was in his late forties and had never had a wife, no children.
But he had friends.
And sometime around 10 or 11 years old, the puzzle pieces formed a picture for this rather sheltered girl and I realized my uncle was gay.
I’m sure my parents mentioned it at some point, and I’m certain my inquisitive mind thought up a few questions. But I don’t remember a specific conversation. I don’t remember being told he was evil, to shun him.
I remember holidays and funerals and occasional visits. And I remember phone chats and birthday cards filled with pocket money. I remember the night my grandfather died and how this younger brother wept.
Years sped away on a cold wind and I spun in circles at its bidding. Voices spoke and I listened intently. Some gentle, some loud and forceful.
But when it came to homosexuals, they were nearly always laced with the same thread of poison.
Eyebrows raised, lips pursed, they spoke it.
Abomination. Hate. Excommunicate. Despise.
I nodded and took notes. I wanted to agree. Wanted to please.
But somewhere in the close corners of my mind…
I would think of my uncle.
He was a friend. So was she.
When the grapevine grew and I heard she had a girlfriend, I caught my breath.
I thought of the poison. I thought of the curled upper lip that had spoken it and the upturned noses.
But we had been children together, she and I. We had grown up side by side and were bonded by a shared past and cloudy days.
And when she called a few months later and asked if I wanted to go to dinner when I was in town,
He told me he’d met him on a trip, that boyfriend.
He said he had known for years, but couldn’t, obviously, say so.
Because of friends. Because of family. Because of the guillotine he knew he’d face.
But he said it now and he stepped away. From the people, from the guillotine.
He understood, he said, that I may need to walk in another direction, knowing this about him.
He knew I may decide never to talk to him again.
I told him I couldn’t do that.
He was my friend.
I heard someone talking that following week.
“Excommunication is loving the person enough to show them that they can’t have fellowship with righteousness when living in sin.”
I thought of my Savior. I thought of how He ate meals with prostitutes and swindlers. How His kindness brought repentance.
And I thought about my uncle, her, and him.
This issue, so explosive, so filled with emotion,
from every angle.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is certain
they are correct.
I have an opinion, too.
Of course I do.
But what about when The Issue becomes so much about The Issue that we forget about the person?