I have been sitting on this story for about a week now. I am not entirely sure what to do with it. It isn’t my story really, and it isn’t public, and I don’t really own any part of it. So it feels somewhat wrong to tell it.
But I also have children, and that includes, in my mind, some people that I love like they were my children even though they aren’t. And I would never want this to happen to them. So the story is general, and the names are not there, and hopefully that is enough to protect those that should be.
And maybe stories make a difference.
As I said, this isn’t my story. It is in fact the story of a friend of a friend. This person, a young girl, twenties, is a lesbian. She has known for some time, and been out to her parents for a couple of years I believe. Her family is mormon, though that isn’t particularly important. It is enough to know that they never understood, never agreed, never accepted who their daughter is. And while the religion isn’t the reason, it certainly played a part in that lack of acceptance.
A little while ago she came back home to visit the family, and her mother had set her up on a date with a boy. Now as I said her mother knows, and this girl has been in a relationship for a while now. To even suggest such a thing is pretty inappropriate. But as a good daughter she agreed to go out with this guy, you know, just this once.
The next day she wakes up at his place, and she can’t recall the entire night before. Now those of us who keep track of such horrible things have a pretty good why that is, and what happened, but she was in shock. She called a few friends, asked for opinions, and ultimately decided she didn’t want to face the obvious. She instead backed up, cut her visit to see family short, and went home.
This isn’t the upsetting part.
A few weeks later her father calls her up, and asks if she was raped. She says that she doesn’t know. Her father says he does know, because the boy Mom set her up with felt guilty about it and confessed. To her father. I can only imagine not only being raped, but having the person then ignore you and instead admit the crime, to your father.
This, also, is not the upsetting part.
The boy in question did it based on the idea that she, as a lesbian, just didn’t know what she wanted, and had simply made a bad choice, and that if she had a night with a man, she would be “cured” and no longer a “sinner.”
This, I will insist again, is not what upsets me.
It was Mom who set up the date you will recall. And provided the idea that engaging in hetro-sex would cure her daughter. And helped him get the drugs.
To be honest however, as deeply disturbing as that set of actions is, the part that really reaches in and hits me where I live and takes my breath away and leaves me with a hollow feeling in the chest, is the realization that these ideas, this notion of what it is to be a person and what it means to be the “other” in our world, that isn’t just some crazy woman who had her daughter raped. It is all around us.
When society drops a little homophobia in a movie for no reason, or teaches 6th graders that saying “that is so gay” is an insult, we are creating a culture that is hostile to one particular group. And this young girl paid the price for it.
When we say it is OK to cuff and drag a gay couple off of the temple grounds, after all it is private property, we are adding to that culture. When we feed stereotypes we are adding to that culture. When you laugh at the homophobic joke your co-worker tells, or listen to people with no evidence on their side claim that gays can be “cured” despite the evidence, you are allowing the idea that there is something wrong, rather than something simply different. And you are adding to that culture.
When Paul and the Sutherland Institute swing around their “it is a choice” battle cry, we need to see that it is equivalent to the guy who defends rapists by saying “she had on tight clothes, she was just asking for it.”
When we watch the LDS church claim they aren’t homophobic, and that common ground can be reached, even while they destroy bills that would help reach that ground, we are just watching a big, none too subtle, wink and nod at the culture of hate. When we see the single largest cultural influence in Utah raise money to take rights away from people based on beliefs they have no right to export onto others, we are simply watching the same long drawn out battle that has gone on with women, non white races, youth, counter culture, etc etc etc. We are watching fear and ignorance and a desire to hold on to power being turned into a poisonous brew that claims to be the culture of family values. And it certainly won’t be exported in the same way to everyone, but it is still poisonous.
Because in that culture, a culture that teaches people in a million subtle and not subtle ways that to be GLBT is to have something wrong with you, to have something that should be cured, or fixed, some people get the message more directly than most. And act on it.
And that is their “family values.” When your mother arranges your rape.