I remember thinking, "Oh, cripes, here it comes," and bracing myself for the wave of revulsion that I knew was going to wash over me. I mean, when a man has over forty years of the "proper" social conditioning, the reaction is involuntary. Consider: I was baptized into the proper faith, a member in good-standing of the 1st Baptist Church of an all-white Bible Belt Community, and I voted almost exclusively Republican for 28 years. I knew how I was "supposed" to feel and react.
I was about to confront the last big taboo.
But it didn't happen the "correct" way. I remember watching as the couple parted with a sweet kiss outside a business where one of them obviously worked. Her partner glanced at me and smiled.
God help me, I smiled back. In completely violation of everything I'd been taught, I smiled back. It felt good.
I smiled because I knew how she felt; I've been there, I understand. I saw it in the radiance of her smile. She was in love, and she was proud of that, and wanted me to know it. How could I not, as a human being, understand? Whatever might have once separated the two of us, irreconcilably, vanished.
And I wrote a short account of that simple incident so I wouldn't forget it. It was a landmark in my life; an evidence of a change I wanted to see in myself.
Friends, there are things, unspeakable things, happening in this world every single day that are infinitely worse than two people of the same gender finding themselves in love. I'm just glad I realized it, even if it was awfully late in my own life. Who wants to grow old harboring some unjustifiable prejudice? A prejudice based on fear; who wants to live in the grip of fear?