How much are our opinions shaped

simply by whatever view gets there first?

(I feel like I mght have written approximately this same post before, but it was on my mind tonight so here you go.)


My parents were quietly but very firmly committed to not pushing their political views on their children. They did not tell me which candidates or parties they voted for. They rarely talked about politics at all, and usually only about issues that were more about economics or science than social issues. The churches we went to were also very non-political.

So I think it’s possible that the very first time I saw anti-gay-marriage/anti-gay talking points explicitly expressed*, was this thing I saw online which treated those views as absolutely ridiculous and easily refuted.

It did this through ideas that seem inaccurate, or at least very outdated, now– “born this way”/”unable to change” rhetoric, snarky questions about whether anti-gay Christians care about the other however-many commandments in Leviticus. I didn’t receive it as a chain email, but it seemed like it had probably been one at one point, something that got reposted over and over, spread from one person to another. Maybe you’ve even seen it. I think it took “Dr. Laura” as its target anti-gay spokesperson. I still don’t really know who that is.

I don’t remember if that was really the first moment I thought seriously about homophobia, but I do remember that as soon as I knew homophobia existed, I was against it, reflexively– long before I even considered that anyone I knew, much less myself, might be gay.

Probably a lot of that was because I’d seen that snark, because it sounded good, because I was hearing those homophobic ideas in chain letters and similar things, and not from the mouth of an authority figure in my life. But some of it was because the things people were saying against homophobia resonated with things that I already felt.

“People can say it’s wrong, but how can it truly be wrong if it doesn’t harm anyone?”

“It’s not fair to punish someone for feelings they can’t control, for being the way they naturally are.”

Those were the kind of things I thought to myself, when I was punished or bullied for breaking rules (school or social) that I didn’t know about,  rules that were supposed to be obvious but made no sense to me, rules that seemed impossible for me to follow.

I knew about arbitrary rules.

I knew about being punished for things you didn’t mean to do.

I’d like to think that at least part of it was because I recognized that similarity.

So then, a pretty big chunk of the course of my life was shaped by little-me crying and saying “but I didn’t mean to, I didn’t know.”


* as opposed to, like, kids saying “that’s gay” as a generic negative thing


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