Through These Eyes: And So We Speak


Listen to Justin read this piece:  And So We Speak

I write because I like to write. I want to make you smile and think about things that don’t matter, and some things that do. My reward is hearing you speak. Writers publish words, and readers publish thought.

Writers inform. They persuade. They inspire. They entertain. They pull together disparate and complex information and make it manageable. Without their words, we miss out on Modern Family and 60 Minutes. We overlook our celebrities and their gossip. Actors’ talents are wasted. And Anna Wintour’s out of a job. Without writers, the only drama we have to bitch about is our own (and maybe Snooki’s).

I’m a squishy writer. I’m no journalist. I don’t break news and what I write is hardly noteworthy (or even profound), but I write nonetheless. I write because, for some reason, I think I have at least something to say. Something that will stir something inside you–that will resonate in some way.

Journalists don’t create the news, nor do writers create drama; they aren’t the arbiters of thought. We all are. Writers simply put it on paper–to trigger an “oh yeah” in our minds. But the biggest “oh yeah” moments are the most surprising ones–the ones that come from the most unassuming places.

Nothing proves this point better than when a 10 year-old sums up the LGBT equality movement with a single thought so striking in its depth and simplicity that it moves his listeners to tears…

I recently took a trip with a friend to Cozumel for a long weekend to detox from work (and retox on sun, too much food, and alcohol). I turned my phone off while I was there. There were no computers. No Facebook. No email. No text messages. And our only indication as to time was an occasional passerby (and vague guesses based on where the sun was in the sky).

My trip made me forget drama at home–stress at work, my perpetual and annoying bachelorhood, that random/scary seizure I had in January, the occasional bar gossip, and the marriage amendment (you know, where everyone gets to vote on the civil liberties of other human beings). Anyway, point is my trip was relaxing.

Back to Minneapolis and back to reality, the first message that popped up on my Facebook profile came from my friend Kate. She and her 10 year-old son, Bobby, had taken a trip to Colorado. While I was gone, she’d sent me a message detailing a conversation she and Bobby had on their plane ride back to Minneapolis. The following comes from Kate:

“Bobby: Mom, is Justin going to have another seizure?

Kate: I hope not.

Bobby: Me too. (Thinks for a few minutes) Mom, why do some people hate gay people?

Kate: I don’t know, Bobby. I guess people are afraid of what they don’t understand.

Bobby: Well if they knew Justin they would understand. Nobody could hate him.”

Bobby’s point wasn’t about me. He referenced me, but he was talking about all of us. He alluded to the point that the people fighting against us don’t know us. They presuppose a notion that fits their agenda and run with it. They don’t pursue understanding, and they don’t lead with compassion. They pursue and lead with ignorance.

So after four days of forgetting the world in Mexico, a 10 year-old–not a writer–reminded me what was important (and made me cry). His comment summed up the hope I’d forgotten, and ignited motivation to chase it again. He spoke to our humanity. I’m just passing it along.

In less than six months, Minnesota will pose a question to its electorate: shall we ingrain in our state constitution the prohibition of same-sex marriage? And rather than preaching why this is wrong (you are the choir, after all), I just ask you to search for the kind of motivation Bobby gave to me, rather than forget hope or pass the buck.

Please continue to speak. Encourage your friends to vote “No” in November and join the fight by contributing resources or volunteering your time to Minnesotans United for All Families: 

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