While I was visiting an elementary school the other day, a woman stopped to thank me for sticking up for people like her son who is gay. We talked in a hurried manner since she was going one way and I another. At one point we stopped and she said, "You know, I spent a year trying to talk my son out of it, but there was no use." I quickly tried to connect the dots. This is the land of Michele Bachmann so I know people who hope to "pray the gay away". She kept talking, and I finally figured out that she was talking about teaching-- she had tried to talk her son out of becoming a teacher! She worried about the climate of acceptance he might find himself in, and she felt the pay was not going to support his dream of becoming a father. Adoption is expensive, and it would be the only option for him. She laughed when I confessed where my train of thought had headed, but she also nodded her head in recognition of the truth I had spoken. She became sad for a moment. "Believe me. I know who I can and cannot talk to. I have learned that the hard way. But thank you for what you have written. It's nice to know I am not alone." She gave me a hug, and we went our separate ways.
I am not sure what this says about this world, how I fit in it, and what my future holds. It becomes easy to second-guess the value of a message you believe in when you live in a bubble of like-minded souls. But it's not enough if you are hoping to have meaningful conversations that promote a different way of thinking. It was good for me to meet someone living in the real world, someone who has to watch what they say and to whom they say it to. It reminds me that while I feel free to speak, not everyone does. As much as we say it is a "free country", for many it is not.
And, if I needed another nudge or a tap-tap-tap to let me know whether or not I am headed in the right direction, I think I got it.