The Tears of the Sexual Left

It’s like they saw us for the very first time.

They have heard about us. They certainly talk about us enough. They psychoanalyze us. They mock us. But they never really see us.

Perhaps they thought we were an embarrassment from the past, cringe-inducing folks from back home, odd ducks living down dusty roads, dangerous creatures living in malarial fever-swamps.

They know we may turn elections, even elections about marriage and even in liberal states. This is a puzzle to them because they certainly don’t know any of us on the Upper West Side of Manhattan or the Hollywood Hills.

But they saw us last week lined up by the millions waiting sometimes hours to buy chicken sandwiches. We celebrated the day in our joyful, quiet, and respectful way – and it profoundly freaked them out. Rachel Held Evans is a left-wing Christian blogger. She wrote:

Images of lines snaking out of fast food restaurants, taunts and jeers on Facebook, tearful conversations with gay friends, failed attempts to understand and explain both sides. . . .Suddenly my religion is alien to me – small, petty, and reactive. My faith has lost its bearings. I don’t feel like praying anymore, not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.
I am hanging on by the tips of my sweaty fingers on this ledge of faith, wondering if letting go will bring freedom or death. I’ve hung on before – through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars – but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place.

Her post got 290 comments before she shut them down. And most of them were like hers: in addition to being wildly self-dramatizing – unbelieving, dispirited, defeated.

Is this the first time they have ever seen us? I do believe it may be the first time they have ever seen us en masse, certainly on the marriage issue. They saw our numbers when before they only saw the result of elections or the rumors of our numbers but they had never seen us with their own unbelieving eyes.

     Chick-fil-A’s president and COO, Dan Cathy

One of them wrote, “The aftermath of yesterday has left me numb and almost without hope. I cannot recall a time in my life when I have felt such deep and profound pain and hurt. I think I have walked twenty miles in the past twenty-four hours trying to find a sense of inner peace.”

Their dispiritedness sometimes ran to the deeply strange and even unhinged. Has anyone not seen the video of the guy berating the drive-through Chick-fil-A girl? His voice is practically panicked at what he is seeing. Finally, he is in a strange land. Like most of them, he is likely used to being very vocal about supporting homosexual marriage and aren’t all those Christians really bigoted haters. No one challenges him because most people are cowed into silence.

And then there was the reporter Mark Krzos of the Fort Myers, News-Press, who wrote on Facebook, “I have never felt so alien in my own country as I did today covering the restaurant’s supporters. The level of hatred, unfounded fear and misinformed people was astoundingly sad. And I can’t even print some of the things people said.” His paper distanced itself from his Facebook comments and his Facebook page came down pretty quickly.

It is very doubtful that Krzos met anyone who said anything he couldn’t print. One of the memes of the other side is that we are a bunch of vile, vulgar haters. Many of us got this from friends and even family. “Why do you hate gays so much?” “I am so tired of all the bigotry.” And so it went all day long.

It is a tiresome discourse and shows the intellectual weakness of the other side. As anyone who spent time in the long lines knows, it was a profoundly respectful day. People stood aside and let nuns and soldiers go to the front of the line. It was a quiet party.

Our side is used to being battered on this issue. Even so, we come out and win election after election on the marriage question (32-0 in statewide elections). We have won even in liberal states like California. We have won even when the election is held during Democratic primaries. The polls always go against us because people are afraid to speak their minds, particularly to strangers and even to family and friends. But get into a voting booth and we win every time.

And so this whole episode was important. We came out in droves. We came out by the millions and we voted with a buck and a cluck. Normal people. Not hate-filled bigots. It was a quadruple victory. First, we won. Second, they lost. Third, they know they lost. And fourth, they really saw us for the first time.

Perhaps as important as them seeing us for the first time is that we also saw ourselves. Face it: this issue can be lonely, lonely in the workplace, in popular culture, lonely among friends, lonely even among family.

Our opponents like it that way. They want us alone, isolated and defeated. They harp on the inevitability argument and it is quite effective. But last week the tables were turned. Last week we weren’t so alone were we? We were huge and didn’t it feel amazing?  Didn’t you shyly smile at others in line, like we knew a secret? Well, it’s not a secret anymore.

Whoever thought that “Eat Mor Chikin” would become a secret password and a rallying cry for Western Civilization?   

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-Fam.