The post in which I realize my uncle is a bigot

I am a very lucky person when it comes to my family and my sexuality. D is also pretty lucky. Neither one of us was disowned, and our parents and most of our siblings are supportive of us. When we had our wedding 3 years ago, all but 4 people came (and those 4 were my brother and his wife and kids because they live really far away and were having money issues at the time). So yeah, we have a ton of support. Or so one would think.

I have a really small extended family. I have 2 uncles, 2 aunts, 2 female and 2 male cousins (1 on each side). My father only has 1 brother (Uncle Jan) and my mother also only has 1 brother (Uncle Stephen). Both of my uncles dislike my life (it’s not a lifestyle – so I won’t call it that). My mothers’ brother is a Rabbi, but in the past was a Pastor of a born-again christian church, which we attended for half of my childhood. He and my aunt have always completely ignored D and refused to acknowledge her existence. Because of this, I refused to go to any family functions in which they were involved, and also did not invite them to our wedding. My cousins on that side are much more accepting and my female cousin even told me she is secretly bisexual when I came out. I never see them (the cousins) anymore – we all live far apart – but at least I know they have my back. They (my aunt and uncle) both acknowledge me, and have given me presents for Christmas in the past – but never have they ever sent a card that mentioned D – nor have they even looked at her the few times we met with them in person. The funny thing is that my aunt’s sister was with a women for decades. I heard she recently broke up with her long-time partner and began dating a man. (UGH!!!! As if it isn’t hard enough to explain I was BORN this way and cannot change – she changes and goes with a man!) I think eventually she broke up with the guy and is now with women again, but cheese and rice it pisses me off!*

Anyway, my father’s side of the family was different. My aunt and uncle do not necessarily fully accept my life, but they have always been kind to D and included her name on cards, etc. When I first came out, they told my mother “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. That has really stuck with me and pisses me off too. They are very conservative right-wingers, but I always have felt like they really still loved me and were making an effort with D. I thought we had changed their minds about gay people. We even invited them to our wedding and they came! Both of their children have been very supportive of us and have posted positive things on Facebook about the DOMA rulings and how everyone should have the same rights. Yesterday my male cousin posted this:

“I’m still trying to figure out how either side of politicking can get away with trying to remove human rights based on what their opinion of ‘proper’ behavior is. If gay people want to get married, why does that effect you? If law abiding citizens(aka people who dont want to murder you) want to carry guns, why does that effect you? If I want to share a song I bought with a friend via the internet, why can’t I? Inalienable rights are being attacked everyday by our own politicians…and I like every other american on here, barely get out of my own chair to do anything.”

While I don’t totally agree with everything he said, obviously he is sticking up for gay people here. And with having the parents he does, this is very admirable. A lot of people responded, and then my uncle said this:

“Just because I do not believe that the meaning of the word marriage should be changed from it biblical origin, I am called a bigot! So now not only do they want to change the biblical meaning of the word marriage, but they also want to change Websters definition of the word bigot!”

Okay, here is the Webster’s Dictionary definition of bigot:

big·ot

noun \ˈbi-gət\

Definition of BIGOT

: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
big·ot·edadjective
big·ot·ed·lyadverb

Examples of BIGOT

  1. He was labeled a bigot after making some offensive comments.
  2. <an incorrigible bigot who hasn’t entertained a new thought in years>

I would say that comment places him squarely under that definition, and his comment truly offended and hurt me –  but I left that part alone when I responded with:

Uncle Jan, marriage is not strictly a religious institution, so why should only religious people get the word? What about people who were not married in churches and/or do not believe in organized religion? Are they not married in your eyes? Why should I not be able to have the word but you can just because you are straight? Am I not a human too? I claim the word marriage because that is exactly what it is, and is no different than any straight couples marriage. I love my wife just as much as you love yours.”

Both my cousin and my wife “liked” this comment. Another commenter wrote this after my comment:

So, according to genesis 29, the biblical meaning includes marrying both sisters if you want the younger one and the older one isn’t married yet, and according to verse 31, if you don’t love the older one equally, god disapproves and makes the one you love barren to even things out. I guess there were fewer people then so they had to cut corners. This isn’t the only example. Biblical marriage is actually pretty creepy.”

And my uncle responded:

All I was saying was that by expressing my opinion does NOT make me a bigot. And if you want to live by the old testiment go right ahead but even Jesus didn”t think that it was all right!”

So basically he ignored my comment altogether. I am his niece! His flesh and blood! Yet he still cannot wrap his head around the fact that we are all human. We are all alike! He has his head stuck in his bible and nothing else matters to him. Needless to say, this conversation has left me sad, dejected and sort of angry. It’s been on my mind all night and all day today. I didn’t write anything else to him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I just don’t think it would make a difference. Am I wrong? Should I have stepped up more? What would you do?

* I have nothing against what people do in their private lives. If someone is bisexual, so be it – it just makes it harder for the gay community when some people profess to be lesbian and then end up going to men.

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About thelesbiannextdoor

I am a 40 year old lesbian, living with her wife in a small town. I have a 22 year old step-son. Who knows, I could be your neighbor ;) (Unless you know for sure your neighbor is not a lesbian - then I'm probably not!)

Posted on July 1, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. The thing is, you can never make headway with a moron. So take the high road. Having intelligent, factual conversations that make clear cut statements are the BEST way of facing these kinds of people. Keep your cool, stay level-headed and let the morons do what they do best – look like morons. 🙂 (This is not to say that I wouldn’t totally have a conversation with him the next time you see him…if you think it is worth it (sometimes talking to a brick wall isn’t exactly the best use of time!)). 🙂

    • Thanks Alison! I tend to agree with you. I probably won’t be seeing him for a looooooonnnnnnngggggg time anyway (cause they live in another state), but if I do, I may bring something up. It’s upsetting, but I know you are right. Sometimes you just can’t change their minds!

  2. Cause Jesus was really concerned about the meaning of words. “Nevermind the poor and hungry, let’s talk about the word marriage and what it means in this book they’re going to write about me later.”

  3. It’s issues like these that bring out people’s true feelings. There are tons of things that the bible preaches we should follow, like slavery, and marrying your rapist. People pick and choose what they want to believe and what suits them. Just stay strong. 🙂

  4. What is it about Facebook and bigoted uncles? We have a lot in common- right down to the supportive-family-minus-the-uncle-who-is-bigoted-and-you-didn’t-know-about-it-until-Facebook-told-you-thing!

    Allison is right, you can’t argue with these people and trying often just gets you a headache! I blocked my bigot…. I got tired of the right-wing propaganda-masquerading-as-commentary showing up on every post I made! But then, I will be 100% okay if I never see or hear from him again and he lives 2500 miles away, soooo not really missing anything there! Maybe you could block yours too if it comes to it and you find you can’t prevail with dialogue alone.

    • So sorry to hear you have that in your family too! I’m not to the point of blocking him yet, but someday it may come to that. I would love to have a conversation with him face to face, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon!

  5. Facebook is not the place to have discussions regarding your beliefs with family members. I’m sot saying that what you did by standing up for yourself following what he said is wrong, just that the way forward with him, perhaps would be to express how his comments have hurt you in a more private way.

    Plus … I have the utmost respect for people who find it hard to understand ways of life other than their own, but that they accept and respect them, anyway.

    • I rarely ever engage in personal battles on a public forum like that, but it did upset me and make me feel like I had to say something. I guess I stupidly thought that if I was like, “Hey! Remember me? Your niece? Someone you purport to love? Yeah, I am reading this too and it hurt me!” Guess it didn’t work out that way. I get what you are saying, but I didn’t feel like I could just sit back and pretend it wasn’t happening.

      I respect him, but it’s also hard not to feel like you can change the minds of people who supposedly love you.

  6. I think some people leave certain social skills IRL behind when they engage in social media. Things they would never say in the presence of certain people because they keep their opinions to themselves out of respect for family, they spout off on FB, forgetting that those same family members are FB friends and will see it. The filters come off.

    I’m hoping the tendency will fade as younger generations who grow up with social media develop more solid etiquette around it.

    Sorry you had to deal with that. I suspect my own parents may hold similar beliefs, but they know better than to verbalize them around me, including on FB.

    • I was just saying to the wife the other day that it’s this older generation holding on to archaic beliefs. Hopefully we will live long enough to see a real lasting change!

      Sorry that your parents may hold the same beliefs, but I am glad to hear at least they have some decorum and restraint not to post it on FB!

      • Unfortunately, the beliefs I still hear in younger people, though perhaps fewer of them–such as a number of my law school classmates. But again, they’re more likely to keep it to themselves and stick with being polite most of the time–the same kind of surface shift without real change in underlying attitudes is at least starting, like it did with racism, and it is a start. it may happen faster than it has with race because of the fact that we’re parts of peoples’ families, and with strangers you don’t know necessarily when you’re in “mixed” company–except perhaps on the internet where people can cluster and associate by belief system (or think they can).

  7. I think you are right ravinj! Or at least I hope you are 🙂

  8. Oh, sweetie. I’m sorry you have had to deal with this. I definitely don’t know what you are going through because so far, the family members who would be against my family don’t say so to my face – but I can imagine how hurtful this is for you!

  9. I don’t think you can change peoples’ minds by stating your case over and over … I think it happens more just by living your life and being who you are and letting them see, incrementally and over time, that you are a normal, worthy equal human being. I know it’s hard sometimes and seems ridiculous that you have “more to prove” (ugh), but I’ve come to the realization—in LIFE in general—that people come into and out of their own beliefs and opinions at their own pace. Hope that makes sense. In short, you be you and he can get on board or not … and even if it seems like NOT, he might surprise you one day.

  10. Unfortunately, there is only ONE person you can control and that’s yourself. Let Uncle Jan say what he wants. Opinions ARE subjective and I do believe that everyone is entitled to their values, morals and beliefs (but that doesn’t mean their beliefs are correct). I am SO sorry that you had to deal with this. It breaks my heart that the mentality of this age is still so conservative.

    • Thank you for your support. I agree that he is entitled to his opinion. I guess I just wish he would have come around by now. I have been with my wife for 9 1/2 years and out for 7 years prior to that. Some people take a long time I guess.

      Thank you for reading along!

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