This post is a continuation of Dining With Bigots (Part 1 of 2).
I manage to get out of that home and away from the conversation, and I begin this internal conversation:
Is it acceptable to be friends or even casual acquaintances with people who espouse bigoted beliefs, or values that I find objectionable? This man would not be a natural friend, but when someone invites you into their home for dinner and these comments only start coming out afterward – what do you say?
Can people’s other redeeming qualities ever outweigh a single bigoted belief? And to what extent should you try exposing people to another perspective as opposed to conceding that some people just will not change? Further, do I try to put myself out there as an advocate?
When Yair and I were in San Francisco, we attended an author talk and book reading of “Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires”. During the talk, the author mentioned that earlier in life she worked at an Orthodox synagogue in Berkeley. As an Orthodox Jewish lesbian, she didn’t know for years if there was anyone in the Jewish community who she could confide in. It was tormenting and she explained that even a small symbol like a rainbow flag in someone’s house or office would have created a safe space and been a sign for her.
Reflecting on her comments, do I put a rainbow sticker somewhere on or in the RV, subtly creating a safe space as we make our way through very Christian areas? Or does that welcome unwanted attention, hostility and other potentially dangerous unpleasantries depending on where we travel?
We don’t have an Israeli flag flying on the outside of our RV – should this be different? But gay and lesbian people are 3 to 7 times more likely to commit suicide (depending on the study) and what if a simple sticker or show of support could actually help someone?
Since I’m on this topic, I would never do a Faces program for an audience that hates black people and minorities. So should I also not consider speaking and presenting Faces of Israel at evangelical institutions and for Christian groups that are very interested in Israel but are outspokenly anti-gay?
I imagine that we will have more of these situations as we begin to explore Texas and the south over the coming months. I have more thinking to do on all of this.
Where do you guys weigh in?
posted by ayo