Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cross-Current: Friends Like These

When I was in grade seven during middle school, this girl and I were really close friends. We were constantly talking during classes we had together and roaming the halls of the school. There was this phenomenon going around the school where two people would share a notebook, write personal messages in it during class, pass it back to their "notebook partner" between classes and they would write back. She and I were notebook partners. It kept middle school bearable (I hated pretty much everything else about middle school). Given how close we were, I was gutted when I found out she would be going to a different school during grade eight. That separation was the bad news. The good news ended up being that the separation would be short lived when we ended up going to school together again for high school.. Those four years were really great, and this friendship was part of that greatness. 

Heritage High School
Those four years, as high school tends to be in hindsight, were also fleeting. After high school as was the case with so many people I knew from those days, even the ones I went to university with, she and I lost touch with each other. These were the days before FaceBook, Twitter, and MySpace. Hell, most people still did not have cell phones yet, so keeping tabs on friends across the miles (everyone going to disparate colleges, joining the military and so forth) was not particularly feasible. Besides seeing people during breaks, most of the months were spent buried in books.

HHS's flag in Iraq (we are everywhere)
And so the years marched forward. College came and went. Friends got married. Some had children. Some moved hundreds of miles away. A few joined the armed forces. We all went farther down our diverging paths in life.

Some years after I had started a FaceBook account (I was a little late to the party on that one), I received a friend request from an unfamiliar name. I looked at the profile and found out that it was her, who I had not seen since we graduated from high school. The name was different because she had gotten married (she also had two or three kids). I was excited that she had looked me up, but that feeling did not last. As I was looking through her profile, I noticed that she had joined some FaceBook groups that were anti-gay (the likes of the so-called National Organization for Marriage, though I do not recall off-hand the exact groups she had joined). I had been on the verge of accepting her friend request. However, after seeing these groups affiliations I ended up ignoring the request instead. I didn't make a pointed decision to do so. It was more that I am not particularly interested in being friends who would have me be a second-class citizen under the law. To be fair, she didn't/doesn't know that I'm gay. Still, I can not consider such a person a friend.

This story may seem a bit out of the blue. There is actually a reason that it was on my mind. Many times, I have heard politicians who have very anti-gay voting records and have made very anti-gay statements say "I have gay friends." I always find this statement strange. Of course there is no doubt in my mind that this is said so that they will not appear to be bigots, but I think that they fail in doing so every time. The latest anti-gay politician to say they have gay friends is the loathsome Rick Santorum.

If you have "friends" against whom you have voted in terms of rights and personal freedoms, how can you  call yourself their friend? How can they consider you a friend? I believe that friends see themselves as equals. Friends want the best for each other. Friends do NOT under any circumstances discriminate against one another or vote against each others rights.

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