Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day XLVI: Faggot II

GOD HATES FAGS

They say you shouldn't say nothin' about the dead unless it's good.
He's dead. Good!   

    -Jackie Mabley, comedienne

It's the first day of spring 2014. 

With spring comes filthiness and grit and change. And from it we are gifted rejuvenation and birth and, well, change.

On those ever blustery winds of change blew in news that Fred Phelps passed away at the age of 84. Responsible for founding and sustaining the Westboro Baptist Church, Phelps and his family and congregation have been responsible for the picketing of over 50,000 events. While some have been as inconsequential as Lady Gaga concerts, they've managed to disrupt the funerals of soldiers and LGBT advocates. The destruction and irreversible conditioning his church has engineered into hundreds of adults and children is horrifying. The suffering, embarrassment, and sadness he has created is baffling. And the bigotry, intolerance, and hatred he has vomited upon this world is impossible to quantify. 

GOD HATES FAGS

I was fourteen the first time I heard about the Westboro Baptist. I remember the blazing red, orange, and yellow signs that flared and danced in the hands of adults and kids, kids that looked younger than me. I can hear the chanting and shouting. I still feel the damning words and raging glares pouring from the mouths and eyes of people that looked just like you and me.

And their faces lit up. I can recall how happy and proud and successful they felt when any attention was sent their way. While they cast America and its people into the immolating, toxic, eternal fires of hell, sent us into the blazing pits of fire and brimstone, and condemned us to wallow in our pain and torment for the rest of time forever-and-ever-and-ever-amen: they smiled. They glowed with joy and reverence. They were radiant in their conviction, steadfast in their hatred. 

GOD HATES FAGS

The second time I was called a faggot--of three that stick with me--I was in 9th grade, watching Shirley Phelps in an interview on television. She told me I was going to hell. That I deserved it. That it was what happened to people like me. That when I spent the rest of eternity rotting and burning in the pits of the underworld, it would be exactly what god wanted.

She told me: thank god for AIDS.
She told me: thank god you'll burn.
She told me: fags are nature freaks.
She told me: thank god for dead fags.

She told me: GOD HATES FAGS

When you're fourteen and already hate the skin you're in. When you're fourteen and ask god every day why you have to be this way. When you're fourteen and you can't find a reason worth living. When you're fourteen and cannot figure out why. When you're fourteen and pray that you wake up in a different life. When you're fourteen and hate everything you see in the mirror.

When you're fourteen and every moment feels pointless, you start to agree that

GOD HATES FAGS.

When I read this morning that Fred Phelps had died, I stopped breathing. 

For so many years, perpetuators of hatred and religious elitism held me in the sweltering palms of their hands. I felt suffocated and frightened of the "truths" they spit into the world and understood that I was lesser and unworthy. When your church called me a fag and damned my soul: I believed you.

But it's been a long time since I've subscribed to that notion. It's been years of work and accomplishment and effort and strength. Now, I stand on the other side of that hatred with the knowledge that I am thousands of times the person you or anyone in your congregation will ever be.

When I read this morning that Fred Phelps had died, I smiled.

I smiled because the world is lighter without his hatred.

I smiled because that's one big glob of anger and intolerance that no longer exists.

I smiled because he hurt so many people around the world, and that he cannot hurt them ever again.

I smiled because I forgive Fred Phelps.

I forgive him for being a catalyst for pain and evil and suffering.
I forgive him for ruining lives and hurting families.
I forgive him for damning without right.

I forgive him because I am a better human than that wicked, wicked man. 

And I think that's what would make him suffer the most: knowing that this faggot, this fag that god hates, forgives him and would tell him face-to-face to rest in peace.

Fred Phelps doesn't deserve my forgiveness or sympathy, and he wouldn't  want it anyway. 

But I didn't want to hear him, either. So I hope, somehow, he can hear me now.

I forgive you.

While you damn me to hell, I hope you find some sort of stillness in your death. A stillness where no one listens to your cries or your words. A stillness where any thoughts or ideas you present are met with overwhelming silence. A stillness where your assertions and positions are meaningless.

A stillness fitting of the demon you played on Earth.

I forgive you. And I thank god for your death.

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