Do I Look Gay to You?

gay_segregation_3017185035A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through some old photos when I ran across one of my son Brad from when he was four years old. He was completely decked out in his yellow fireman coat, red helmet and black rain boots as he fought an imaginary fire in our back yard with a green garden hose tucked securely in his little hands. Brad was forever and always dressing up as some sort of character when he was young, donning one costume after another as he created countless storylines and acted them out. As I sat gazing at the photo of Brad, I realized I see something different now than I saw all those years ago when I snapped the picture. Dressed in full firefighter regalia, I only saw what Brad looked like on the outside. I didn’t see the creative, talented, intelligent, gifted filmmaker he is today. I saw Brad’s firefighter costume, but I had no idea that beneath his costume was a little boy who was writing, producing and directing countless movies in his mind.

Recently, I spent the better part of two entire days stretched out on my couch watching television. That’s out of character for me, by the way, as I normally don’t watch much television anymore … unless, of course, I’m feeling down and looking for a way to escape the sadness. Such was the case on the two days I mentioned … lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut would be a good description as to how I was feeling, hence my hours upon hours of television watching. I was channel surfing in an attempt to find something that would hold my attention when I came across the movie “Philadelphia.” The film stars Tom Hanks as an attorney who is wrongly dismissed from his job when the partners in the firm where he is employed learn he is gay and suffering from AIDS. Denzel Washington plays the role of the attorney who defends Mr. Hanks in the lawsuit against his former firm. I’ve seen the movie numerous times, but on that day, one scene practically jumped off the screen and into my heart as I watched.

As he is shopping at a local pharmacy, Mr. Washington is approached by a tall, masculine, young law student who commends Mr. Washington’s work in defending Mr. Hanks. Their conversation is cordial and respectful, so much so that Mr. Washington offers the young man his card and tells him to give him a call when he graduates. The young man mistakenly assumes Mr. Washington is gay since he’s representing a gay man, and he suggests that perhaps they could have a drink together. In an incredibly powerful cinematic moment, Mr. Washington says, “What’s wrong with you? Do I look gay to you?” to which the young man, who is wearing a jersey and clutching a football, replies, “Do I look gay to you?”

The question “Do I look gay to you?” has become the focus of great debate and discussion recently as lawmakers in several states, including my own, attempt to pass legislation allowing people with certain religious beliefs the right to refuse to provide goods and services to those of us in the LGBT community. While I am certainly far from being a militant lesbian or a political activist, I simply cannot remain silent on this issue. This legislation, if enacted, is, in my opinion, blatant and open discrimination in its truest form. To legally grant persons the right to refuse to allow me to purchase flowers or eat at a restaurant or attend a school play or receive medical care or any other form of goods or services simply because I look gay to them is morally, ethically and spiritually wrong.

The Jesus I know taught me to love and have a servant’s heart for all people … gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor, Christian or non-Christian.

The Jesus I know never taught me to hate or discriminate, and He certainly didn’t teach me to try to make it legal to do so in His name.

I am a Christian, and I am a lesbian. I look gay. I have short, spiky hair, and I wear suspenders and bow ties and wingtip shoes. But I would also look gay if I wore dresses and sequins and high heels. I look gay because I am gay.

My only grandchild is two years old, and she lives in Canada. I don’t look gay to her. I look kind to her. I look loving to her. I look funny to her. I look giving to her. I look goofy to her. I look compassionate to her. I look understanding to her. I look playful to her. I don’t look gay to my granddaughter. To my granddaughter, I look like her Ghee. I don’t look like her gay Ghee … I just look like her Ghee. My hope and prayer is that one day, others will see me the way my granddaughter does … she sees me as me. My hope and prayer is that one day we will all see one another as we truly are … people created in the image of a loving God in whose eyes we are all the same.

So tell me … do I look gay to you?

photo credit: shizzy0 via photopin cc

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Johnson-Terrie2TERRIE JOHNSON is Senior Editor for a nationally recognized advertising agency in Kansas City, and author of Lord, Help! Here Comes Mom! and God Even Loves Wiener Dogs.  

She is an awarded public speaker, writer of the daily blog, The Tree House, mother to three adult children, and grandmother to the most beautiful, intelligent little girl ever!