“There is power in our presence,” writes Chinese American journalist Jeff Chu in the Washington Post. “So we keep making our appeals, not through amicus briefs or oral arguments but through our mundane lives.” Chu is the author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America.
Jeff Chu reminds us that it is our courageous and loving presence among our family, friends and communities of faith that really changes the world. This is especially true in the difficult places where LGBTQ people have not found acceptance yet. Our presence in our beloved communities undergirds the social change we seek.
If you went red on Facebook this week, take some time to call, visit or write the loved ones in your life and share with them about why these Supreme Court decisions are important to you and what you had for dinner with your significant other.
But the court does not have the influence that faith does, at least not in families like mine. The justices can compel the government to give us tax breaks because we’re married. They can’t make my relatives add a seat for my husband at the Thanksgiving table…
Some friends have suggested that I simply walk away: “Why go where you’re not wanted?” That’s precisely wrong. I am wanted. My parents pray for me — and for my husband. They desire what they’ve been taught is best for us and for our eternal souls.
What kind of love is extended only when and if I get my way? I’d no sooner leave my country because of a law I disagree with — there are plenty — than I would abandon my family. And given that ditching them would only cement the sentiment that I am, as a homosexual, somehow lost, how do I change anything if I don’t stay?
There is power in our presence. So we keep making our appeals, not through amicus briefs or oral arguments but through our mundane lives. We maintain what ties we have and try to tighten them. I send postcards from our vacations. I write e-mails with updates about what we’ve been up to, testifying to the normality of our home — how we had fried rice for dinner, watched “Top Chef” and enjoyed the sermon at church on Sunday. I include my family in my life, in the hopes that they will, someday, include not just me but us in theirs.
Progress, if it comes, will happen not through sweeping judgments but by small measures. In my family, for instance, we rarely show affection verbally, and we’re not big huggers and kissers, which is not unusual for Chinese clans. My mom, a wonderful cook, has always shown her love through food. Whenever I visit, she prepares a farewell meal for my plane ride home; it’s her affection, boxed up for the road — some dumplings, perhaps, always her fantastic fried rice, yellow with egg and fragrant with scallions. On my first visit to my parents after coming out to them, I feared that she wouldn’t. But on my last morning, there she was at the stove, crying while stir-frying. The fried rice that day seemed salted in equal measure by soy sauce and tears.