Life is about building bridges, not walls

[Begin vent]

I feel the need to vent.  I haven’t used this forum to do that too much, I don’t think.  Only for important things like EJ not getting a Grammy nod for the Union (smile).

But this week, something happened to me – nothing earth shattering, truly – but it affected me nonetheless.  Silly, really, but then I guess I need to develop a thicker skin.

So the story goes like this…

Someone de-friended me on Facebook this week because of a political figure that I follow.  And then posted to my timeline how that essentially made me anti-gay and a bigot.  I was crushed, not because this person de-friended me (good riddance, frankly), but because no one has ever called me anything like that before.  And it stung.

Now, I do follow several political figures on Facebook. Though I shouldn’t have to qualify this or justify myself (because I know who I am and my true friends know who I am), let me say one thing: Just because I follow someone does not mean I support him/her.  (Some I can’t even vote for)!  Unless you’re truly a Facebook dolt, you should realize that there is no “follow” in Facebook.  There is only a “Like.”  And in Facebook land, “Like” doesn’t always mean “Like.”

So, you might ask, how does this relate to Elton John?

Well, I have been an Elton John fan since I was 14 years old.  When he came out in Rolling Stone, there were many people who wouldn’t listen to his music any more.  And, for many, many years, whenever I told people I was an Elton John fan, I was usually greeted with an “Oh, the gay singer.”  I used to respond, “Yeah, so what? There’s not enough love in this world as it is.”  Now, that doesn’t make me a saint or a big thinker, but it never once dawned on me that I should ever care what his sexual orientation was/is.  It just plain didn’t – and doesn’t – matter.

I’m happy to report that I don’t get that response very much any more (thank goodness) when I tell people that my favorite musician is Elton.  I think that’s a statement of how society has evolved.

[Deep breath.  Venting (ranting?) sometimes requires one to take a breath or two].

Now, I’m not claiming that society doesn’t have a hell of a lot more evolving to do. Nor am I claiming that I ever had to deal with flagrant bigotry (although I can say that I’ve had to deal with some inequity because I’m female).  But to call me anti-gay and imply that I am also a bigot was not only very hurtful, it was just plain wrong.  And to do it through Facebook was cowardly.

Of course, there are homophobes, racists, bigots and haters out there.  No question.  And hate is wrong. PERIOD.

In any case, I quickly deleted the post from my timeline and attributed it to the rantings of a Facebook bully. But (as you can tell), it still bothers me.  So, the goal of this post is to get it out of my system and turn the “bothers me” into a “bothered me.”

Back to how that relates to Sir Elton.  When he played at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding, Elton was the recipient of vitriol from both sides of the political equation.  He has since talked about how he and Rush have become friends, and that (I paraphrase here), even though they don’t agree politically, “Life is about building bridges, not walls.”


And I quote Sir Elton again:

“One of the old adages in life is never judge someone until you meet them. I didn’t like his policies but I have to say when I met him, I found him charming, I found him well informed and I found him determined to do something about the AIDS situation so I changed my opinion of him. And his wife was astonishingly kind to us well. So it was — I learned a lesson.”

Who was EJ referring to in this statement?  Believe it or not, George W. Bush. And if Elton John can say this about W – truly, what two people could be more diametrically opposed (except for maybe Elton and Rush!) – then we all can take a lesson from this.

There, I’ve gotten it off my chest.  Have I moved to the it “bothered me” stage? That remains to be seen.

In any case, I feel a little better.

Perhaps we should all give these words some heed.

[End vent]