Many times I opt out of controversy by what I like to call, “playing Switzerland.” What mother isn’t a pro at remaining neutral in a sea of chaos and diverse opinions? Having lived through some pretty hard-hitting life events, I strive to deal with real problems, not imaginary ones. I knew I had found a doozy of a real problem upon hearing that the state of Arizona passed a bill giving business owners, on the grounds of their religious beliefs, the right to refuse service to homosexuals.
Confusion stepped to the front of the line before fear and concern for the ripple effect this could have on our great melting pot of a nation. A few questions: How will business owners know who is gay? Will snappy dressers be instant suspects? Will you have to show your “heterosexual card” at the door? Good Lord, I hope you won’t have to divulge when you decided to be a heterosexual because I don’t recall when I made that decision. Also, even though I am a card carrying “hetero” I have been on non-active status for some time—hope my card isn’t revoked. Maybe it would be simpler to issue t-shirts or stars—wait, I think that’s been done before. What if business owners decide to extend restrictions to other sects of our society? Maybe kids with ADD/HD will be next. I know many a restaurant server who has counted to ten silently in their head as my child took 18 minutes to order a hamburger only to end up getting the soup of the day.
Lessons learned in elementary
If I honestly looked back to my elementary school days, I would have to say we were a strange class. “Mark the Shark” would chase other kids around the playground while using his hand as an imaginary fin. The only kid he didn’t go after was Harry who thought he was a T-Rex. Eugene, who always ended up as my gym partner, would constantly suck his shirt sleeves and Andy would have a contest (with himself) of how long he could stare cross-eyed. Yours truly, an introverted and skinny girl, would get charged as a teacher going through the lunch line due to her height. Then there was Alan, whose mother took him to Disney on Ice and his life was forever changed. He would come to school in a cape and crown and twirl around the room. Our quirks and differences were many but we shared one important thing; we were loved. I will never forget the look of pride on the face of Alan’s mom when he took his “ice show” to the school stage for a talent contest. The thought that somewhere a “twirler” is being refused service saddens me beyond description. One of the biggest compliments my youngest child ever gave me was upon hearing her say to a group of playmates, “I can break stuff, forget my homework, and I could even be Lebanon and my Mom will love me.” I think she meant lesbian. Regardless, she (who grew up to be a card-carrying, flaming heterosexual) received the message that I am here with unconditional love and respect.
What does different mean?
I don’t know what it feels like to be refused something I desire or shunned for simply being me. When battling cancer, I experienced what it felt like to be “different.” I continually felt like I was on the outside looking in. I never realized that hair and menstrual discomforts were major topics of conservation in women’s circles until I had neither and my heart sunk when I was referred to as “sir” one day by a bookstore cashier. My mom would always say, “Kids like to be unique as long as they’re like everyone else.” I so desperately wanted to be viewed as “normal” during that time. My variances were temporary and I am back to as normal as I can get. I greatly admire the strength of those who live a lifetime of being unique.
At our last social gathering, our home was filled with an agnostic, conservative Jew, two Muslims, four Catholics, three liberal Protestants, our Suz, whose giant spirit can’t be contained in her small frame and wheelchair, and kids dealing with everything from bed wetting to stuttering. I attempt daily to live my life after a man who hung around tax collectors and hookers without a second thought. On a much smaller scale, I regularly perform the miracle of somehow feeding four hungry kids plus all the extras that enter this house. Like Him, I do not make anyone “different” go to the back of the line, segregate them by color or faith, or refuse to feed them. In this house, all are served, even legislators from Arizona.