As most probably know, Jerry Falwell has died. He was someone’s father, grandfather, husband, and friend, and I hope those in my community will remember that, though I have already read some nasty things on the topic from the left in general.
I just went over how I view love and hate in this debate, here. Referring to the terms in that post, I don’t know if I can say Falwell felt tough love for gays, or something more akin to hate, and I don’t think anyone could say for sure. One could, again, look at actions. I remember just after 9/11, he blamed gays, in part, for the tragedy. It’s such an old tactic with regards to gays, and it struck me as threatening and, sure, it felt hateful to twist such a horror and aim it at my home. I also remember when he warned parents that the purple teletubby was a gay propagandist (Everyone in gay command knows it's the red one). In short, he was no friend of the gay community. He did a lot to harm our families in his activism. But he had his reasons for those actions, and none of that matters now, tough love or hate. The actions can be the same for both and they are done, and a man, one who many did love, is gone.
While, it’s too easy to feel the good feelings of love for gays when you're hurting them, it’s also too easy, in our position, to let anger get a barbed hook into us. It’s too easy to create a demonic caricature of those who’ve done the same to us. It feels good, like you’re gaining some ground, tit-for-tat. I know. There’s a good couple years in my late teens and early twenties when I was quite an angry young man. But it’s not healthy, it’s not helpful, and it’s not honest when any human is dehumanized. If there is time more wasted in my life than the time I spent in the closet, putting off my orientation, it was the time I spent angry at those who encouraged me to waste time in the first place.
Sure, I still get angry at the circumstance, as I did a couple days ago, but I make sure none of it lasts--I can’t take it home--and I can’t keep such emotion up for a person anymore, even when I want to. It just takes a pause to think about why they do what they do. Everybody has their nurture and nature behind them, and most try their best to do what’s right even when they’re doing a lot of harm. As I’ve said before, and as something I take as a way of living in this struggle: to be angry at another person is almost as useful as being angry at the weather, the main difference being that anger at the weather isn’t likely to make the weather worse.
Even after the first stone is cast, I believe we’ll do better for ourselves, our health, and those we love if we don’t decide to throw anything back in anger. And if you feel anger for a man past his death, or joy at the end of his life, you should stop and wonder if you’ve not begun doing to yourself the same sort of damage that was the impetus of your anger in the first place. Simply, wherever the young gay men on the brink of choosing their life end up, I’d simply have to hope they'd not take that common anger with them. You won’t acclimate to that poison, and wouldn’t want to.
[Edit: I see now, a handful of gays in the Castro district have set up an anti-Falwell "memorial", story here. Sad, if I had to split the world into us-vs-them, I’d put such gays right there in the other camp with the anti-gay activists.]