When “Them” Becomes “Us”
This past December, we were at our best friend’s house having dinner with a set of their parents. I don’t remember what led to the comment, or even precisely what was said, but the father made a derogatory statement toward the LGBTQ community.
Of course, our besties know about our daughter, so there was a slight pregnant pause.
While I was weighing the option of saying something in return, my girlfriend lovingly laid her hand on her father-in-law’s and gently said, “Dad, please be careful what you say. The four of us have people in our family circles that we love very much who are part of the community you’re speaking against. I just thought you’d like to know.”
She didn’t give specifics, or “out” our daughter. (It would have been fine if she did.) She didn’t get mad or rail against her father-in-law’s prejudice. She honored all parties present.
Her father-in-law looked a little surprised, but quickly apologized and said something about his old age getting in the way of his manners.
What struck me, though, was how my girlfriend’s quick thinking brought an us perspective to a them rant. She owned my daughter like she was hers, too. “We have people in our family circles,” became synonymous with, “She’s my family, dad, so please be careful.” It stopped that vein of conversation in its tracks. He didn’t bring it up again.
So often people judge outsiders out of fear, taught theology/ideology, or even ignorance. They haven’t met anyone in “that” group, and have only heard stories that promote their prejudice. The Them vs. Us case grows.
But in reality, when they start to get to know them, they realize there are hearts attached to those bodies that long for acceptance and love just like they do.
All of a sudden, them has a name and a face, hopes and dreams, and a recognizable need to be seen. They are now brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, extended family, and they belong to us.
It was a beautiful gift my friend gave me that day, and I vowed I’d have a similar reply ready the next time a situation like that comes up. And let’s face it, it probably will.
I pass this on to you so you can think of ways to sweetly and compassionately help those who are against them see an us.
I experienced first-hand the difference it makes.
P.S. Click here to read my post for other ways to handle non-affirming people.