Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's your sign?

On Saturday, my daughter and I were driving by Wal-mart. A woman, flanked by two young children, stood at the entrance to the parking lot. She was holding a sign that said, There is no such thing as a Christian homosexual. I had to wonder what prompted this woman to gather her children and parade her sign before all those people. Was there a recent controversy I missed, or was she simply spewing her views before the largest gathering of folks she could find? Did she feel her family was so threatened by these opposing values that she would risk ridicule rather than to sit in pew with someone who was gay?

This sign fascinated me because of the characters in my book, SUMMERS AT BLUE LAKE. The opening scene, which takes place inside a church, introduces the protagonist's grandmothers and outs them as lesbians. The entire book emerged from the opening sentence which juxtaposes the words lesbians and grandmothers. It gives a tension in the mind as we counter contemporary gay rights issues with our sociological history. On one hand is a population that is still being shunned (as evidenced by the woman's sign) and on the other hand we have a pair of grandmothers (Who doesn't love their grandmother?) belonging to the revered WWII generation. I will admit that I deliberately set the stage in a church to take advantage of the tension. In my earliest drafts I was very hard on the members of the congregation--judging them for their judgments toward my characters. It took many rewrites to soften my words to the concerns of the congregants. The scene was post WWII America. The happy family was the ideal. Rec rooms. Backyard barbecues. A reality worth preserving against all perceived moral threats. But...What if the church-goers genuinely liked Anja and Lena, the grandmothers? What if they had a hard time applying their moral certainties?

I don't carry any signs. I envy people who have convictions so powerful as to take a stand for what they believe--even if it is, as in this case, a belief counter to my own. I have never marched on the capitol or stood on courthouse steps. I have contemplated both, but I guess that makes me a contemplatist not an activist. I consider things deeply, perhaps to extreme. For every truth I have been taught, I have asked a question. Maybe--just maybe-- that's what makes me a writer.

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