Yesterday I wore this shirt which was painted by comic book artist Alex Ross (Kingdom Come, Marvels) a few years ago. Right away when a person sees someone wearing a shirt like this, you know what their politics are and the person wearing said shirt knows they're going to get comments from people they encounter. Knowing my customers as I think I do, I was pretty sure that just about all of them would be on the same page as me regarding my shirt and my politics so I wasn't expecting any negative comments for wearing that shirt.
I'm sure I have some customers who aren't Democrats, who think homosexuality is wrong, and or just don't share any of my political leanings, but I haven't had anyone offering their rebuttals to my positions. I try not to hit people over the head when sharing my political beliefs, but I do have an Obama Hope poster hanging in my store, I have three different Obama shirts I wear from time to time, and I've been wearing an Obama button every day for at least the last couple of months. Whenever someone asks me about my support of Obama or me being a vegetarian (vegan), I'll (to the best of my ability) discuss why I've made those choices, so I certainly hope that anyone who feels (thinks) differently will try to engage me in a dialogue.
Well yesterday I was more than a little surprised when one of my friends whom I've known a long time (even though we no longer hang out very much) said: "Cute shirt, it almost makes me not want to shop here anymore." He was in the middle of talking to another of my friends (Kyle, singer in Nine Fine Irishmen at the New York, New York casino) here at the store and the store was pretty busy at that time. I didn't say anything back to him because I was busy ringing up people and I was actually shocked that he said that. Now I shouldn't have been shocked because I know some of his religious beliefs (which I think came into his making that comment more than as a political reason of his), but I also know that he holds some liberal ideas that don't go step and step with his religious beliefs.
It's often said that one shouldn't discuss politics or religion in mixed company and one shouldn't air their politics in their place of business because you run the risk of alienating / losing customers. I don't agree with this because I think more communication should be taking place between people about important things and not just the superficial things (such as a show we watched last night or a sports team's performance) we talk about most of the time when we see our friends or anyone else we talk to.
Anyway, I didn't confront my friend about what he said yesterday and I really wanted to because I think confronting someone about their beliefs is good for everyone. I've not been the best at confronting others in the past and I've always felt bad about it upon reflection as I'm certainly not doing the positions I hold any favors, nor did I communicate with the other person in a significant way, but I think I'm getting better in this respect and in turn getting better at communicating why my choices are what they are.
So next week, when I see my friend who made that comment about the shirt in the photo above, I'm going to ask him what he meant by what he said. I'm going to approach him in a manner that hopefully doesn't come across as if I'm attacking him for his positions because of course he's entitled to his opinion, I just would like him to try to make me understand where he's coming from. It's also very possible that I'm blowing his comment about my shirt way out of proportion and he was just joking and or was grossed out at the idea of Cheney and Bush kissing (is there anyone who doesn't think that's gross - grin!?). And it's also true that all of us have dicotomies within what we say and what we actually practice, but the more we recognize this and talk about our thoughts on topics such as homosexuality, the better we'll be to see the fallacies in some belief systems and then change them.
If I find out that my friend said what he did because he thinks homosexuality is wrong, well I'm going to have a problem with that. I can understand not liking the idea of homosexuality as a personal choice, such as not liking brussel sprouts, but to extend your dislike for homosexuality towards the belief that others should not be in homosexual relationships if that's THEIR choice, well that's just wrong - I think that line of thinking is as wrong as being racist or a misogynist.
I'm amazed with this being the 21st century, that everyone can't see how wrong opposition to homosexuality is and that hopefully not too far in the future, people will see that legistration that regulates what sexual orientation a person chooses for themselves, is as ludicrous as not allowing women or black people the right to vote. Two states that I know of, California and Arizona, have on their ballots this November, a question that would make gay marriage unconstitutional, and sadly I'm not too encouraged that they won't pass, so America still has quite a way to go before it's truly a country with equal rights for all of its people. Communication and confronting people who hold these opposing, outmoded beliefs, is the key to making this discrimination obsolete.
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