Faith Writings

The Only Functional Response to Hate

He has changed so much. He has really grown. He is doing good things. These are the words the man said. Talking about me. A couple months ago. At a gathering for celebration of my seven years sans alcohol.

My celebration was ended in a cruel, intentional moment of pure ignorance and prejudice. Evidence clearly concluded that this was no accident. A purposeful act. Intended to bring pain to me. Its mission was accomplished. All I could think of was that I needed to respond, rather than react.

I suppose the interspersing of a breath or two has resulted from the knowledge gained by activism. That effectiveness is not nearly so much a product of reaction, as it is a product of response. And I did respond. Simply making it clear that what had happened was unacceptable, but steering clear of causing additional harm.

The gathering soon came to an end, and true friends who witnessed the inexcusable attack on my soul, came to my side. Needing to know for their own well-being, as well as mine, that I was ok. A particularly wonderful friend suggested that we hop over to the neighborhood coffee bar, and visit for a bit. I was all too happy to receive his genuine act of love.

As we visited for perhaps an hour or two, I began what would be a month long adventure of processing all the things I thought required by those two or three minutes of purposefully-delivered pain.

I had the power. I had the power to bring harm to my perpetrator. Serious, significant harm. Yet I do believe that the only functional response to hate, is love. Through grace greater than me, I chose to do no harm.

A couple weeks later, on Thanksgiving evening, the same friend who comforted me, and a very dear sister-friend, were helping me talk about the things about which I needed to talk. You might not want to hear this, she said, but you might not have a right to the answer you’re looking for. Of course, she was right. I was trying to understand why it had all happened. And she was right. I do not have the right to possess that answer. I was holding onto something that was not mine.

And so, the matter of processing moved from the arena of why did it happen, to the arena of why did it hurt so badly. There was never any conscious thought that what happened was about me, or my womanhood. My mind never considered it. Not even for a single moment. But my heart doesn’t always have access to the same information as does my mind.

Another couple weeks later, sharing a meal with my very dear sister-friend, the answer to this question – which I do have a right to – had become clear. As luck would have it, I find myself attracted to men. If sexual orientation were a choice, I would make a different one. However, I don’t get to choose my sexual orientation.

On the rare occasions when I am referred to in the masculine these days, it is nearly always by a man. Almost never by a woman. What my heart believed, that my mind knew was not true, was that this man’s inability to see me as a woman was a statement about how all men see me. If a man does not see me as a woman, how on earth will he see me as a person with whom he can share his life.

For a month, my heart held tightly to the idea that my prince would never come because he would not be able to see me as a woman. There is a new mutually-agreed-upon understanding between my heart and my mind. My prince will see me completely as a woman. And he is out there somewhere. Just waiting for the right moment.

I have always been me. I just lived in a very small, dark world for a very long time. I did not become a woman. I stopped pretending to be a man. My, how much different it is, to live in the light. My heart is healed. At least, my heart is healed enough to feel sorrow for a man who still lives in a very small, dark world.

And I still believe that the only functional response to hate, is love. I am blessed to have a great many people in my world who teach me this on a daily basis. Strange that I should learn more about love by standing up to hate.

I suppose the interspersing of a breath or two has resulted from the knowledge gained by activism. That effectiveness is not nearly so much a product of reaction, as it is a product of response. And I did respond. Simply making it clear that what had happened was unacceptable, but steering clear of causing additional harm.

© February 4, 2013, Stephanie Mott

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