Sunday, March 3, 2013

Team Switchers

One of my previous posts, "Heroes and Villains," talked about honoring those people who stood by you, stood with you, and may have even stood up for you when you might not have been able to stand for yourself.

What about those who switch teams? By that, I mean a hero who may become a villain, or rarer yet, that villain who becomes a hero.

What do we do then?

I think it depends on the situation.

Often, our heroes may have a differing viewpoint on an issue that is significant to us. And when they express that viewpoint, do they become an out-and-out villain? I remember many years ago, in 1988, a then-friend and I were approached by a person collecting signatures for California Proposition 69 which stated (emphasis mine):
  • "Declares that AIDS is an infectious, contagious and communicable disease and that the condition of being a carrier of the HTLV-III* virus or other AIDS-causing viral agent is an infectious, contagious and communicable condition. Requires each be placed on the list of reportable diseases and conditions maintained by the Department of Health Services. Provides each is subject to quarantine and isolation statutes and regulations. Provides that Health Services Department personnel and all health officers shall fulfill the duties and obligations set forth in specified statutory provisions to preserve the public health from AIDS." 
My "friend" had no problem signing it. This was talking quarantine! Separating families; parents from children, perhaps regardless of age. Plus, this was all coming out of mass hysteria, no one was sure exactly how the virus was transmitted; yet everyone seemed convinced gay men were at fault since we were the first victims. I fumed at her. My partner at the time tried very hard to console me, stating she had the right to her opinion. He was right, of course, but what hurt most, was that she was indirectly responsible for my coming out, and she stood by me during that time. And then to turn and sign something as dark and evil and misguided as this? I should have realized this attitude was the beginning of her more conservative nature emerging. She later found religion, and we slowly drifted away from each other. There were other issues as well that began wedging their way between us.

While she never actually set out to hurt me, she and I eventually grew in different directions. Does this actually make her a villain? Not really. And in all honesty, I can't really think of any hero who has actually turned on me, specifically to hurt me.

Nor can I think of any villain who has come running to my side expressing a sense of remorse for past misdeeds. Except one.

My brother.

When I came out to the family in 1985, they were scattered over the country, and I felt the best way was to come out to all of them at the same time. So, I did it through a letter. My mother called me, crying it was all her fault, while my youngest brother said he while he didn't agree with homosexuality, he was still proud of me for taking a stand. My middle brother, a born-again Christian, said I would burn in hell, but always welcome at his house. (Really? Why would I want to visit?) We stopped speaking. Ironically, both my brothers have traded places. The youngest and I no longer communicate, and the middle one made the trip to California for my wedding, and even wanted to talk some sense into my ex just after our separation. It seems people evolve. (Right, President Obama?)

While our villains may indeed be villains, I think we have many more heroes than we realize.

I think it's time we begin to honor them, for as we honor them we honor ourselves.

*HTLV-III (human T lymphotropic virus type III) was an early name for the virus which was later renamed HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in 1986.

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