Something really challenging happened today. I belong to, and feel invested in, a wonderful international online community that has gathered around a central something that all of the members love. It's a place where I've been welcomed warmly the past year or so, met some really creative and interesting people, and even made some good friends. Because of some self-discovery of late, I've really come into my own as a full-fledged geek, and as such, this community is one of my favorite places.
As everywhere in this country, the past several weeks have focused for this community - at least sometimes - on the Presidential election and various local races and measures. The subject of gay marriage has been discussed off and on since the CA supreme court overturned the ban in that state, and has come up again with the passage of Prop 8 in CA and similar measures in AZ and FL. I think that the various members of the community have different views on the subject, but think that the majority of the group do not support codified bans on gay marriage. I obviously see constitutional amendments banning gay marriage as abhorrent, and view gay marriage as an inevitability in this country. (I've written previously here about how if I was to set the much touted GAY AGENDA, marriage would not be my move, but as I said to my great friend kapo today, I hate people telling queers that they can't marry more than I hate the idea of queers seeking to join in on the already broken institution of marriage.)
What I'm struggling with tonight is this: how can a cordial, respectful community of people who exist all across the political spectrum (and with some who aren't political at all) maintain cordiality and respect when one or more members are deeply and personally offended by the expression of views by another member?
When I stepped into the virtual bar that is our community meeting place this morning, I read through the posts I missed from last night like always and was really stunned and angered by a post from a member who threw out the same tired old conversation stoppers of "incest" "polygamy" and my personal favorite "NAMBLA." It was the standard if we allow gays the right to marry, then WHAT will come next? argument. It described efforts to legalize gay marriage as attempts to make gay sex "normative" and called queerness a "condition." It included the gay people already have the right to marry -- people of the opposite sex argument. The our man parts fit right inside of the woman parts; this is obviously what we were made for argument. I have heard these arguments multiple times. They aren't new to me. I've heard it before. But, damn, it made me angry today.
My internal dialogue wonders if I should bring this frustration to the community, or just keep it here. It wonders if I should do what marginalized people always do and stay quiet because everyone wants to move on. It wonders if I should just stay away from the "bar" for a little while until I've forgotten about this.
I'm not sure what to do. For now, sleeping on it seems prudent.