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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Monday
Aug232010

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it

I just read The Help this weekend. Couldn't put it down. Turns out everyone was right, you should read it. Now I'm all worked up about civil rights and such because we got the same battle on our hands now in **motherfucking 2010.

No matter how horrendous our history, people just don't learn.

I'm going to go ahead and say some things again, Soap Boxy things, because they need to be said no matter which god fearing, gay right denying relatives decide to write me off. It may not mean much to someone living in New York City where generally they don't give two shits what freak flag you fly. But here, in Utah, surrounded by the things I'm surrounded by, reading the Facebook threads of people from my past... sometimes I just want to scream.

Today is one of those days.

A few years ago, right after we moved back from Brooklyn, a good friend of mine went to a party attended by several mutual high school friends (all Mormon). One of the other girls came up to her and said something along the lines of "What happened to Monica, I heard she's gone all crazy?" Now, if by crazy you mean this, well okay then. But if by crazy you mean this and maybe this... well, sister, if that's crazy I don't want to be sane.

I've spent a significant amount of time wondering which kind of crazy this particular friend meant and I have a sneaking suspicion it's the latter. But who the hell knows? Except her.

There are relatives and friends I grew up with, people I know who are well-intentioned, good people but people I couldn't spend five minutes in the same room with because I know how they feel about The Gays and such. I mean, Jesus wants us to do unto others and all that but he didn't mean The Gays did he? I could say, oh well, let's just agree to disagree. But I can't. Not about something like this.

Because that sweet gay couple down the street who've been together twenty years is going to give marriage a bad name? And that motherfucker Larry King ain't?

All you religious folks I grew up with who learned about slavery, MLK, the KKK and the desperate battle for civil rights? All of you who read To Kill A Mockingbird and wondered how people could be so horrible to millions of others based on a skin color?

You're doing it now.

You can argue about the morals of your religion until god done calls you home but you'll still be hypocritical, ugly on the inside, all the while justifying your intolerance with talk of god. Some of you, hell, most of you are good people that mean well. But if you stopped listening to what other people say for once in your life and dig down deep and really listen to that "still small voice" y'all give so much lip service to you would know the answer.

The reason I'm saying this? About hundreds of people with whom I grew up entrenched in the Mormon religion? The reason I'm saying this is because laws are changing in spite of your bigotry. Times, they are a changin again and in twenty years, when I look back on this battle, our generation's battle, for civil rights, I want to know I stood up loud and proud and said what I believed in. Will you be able to do the same?

**And where the fuck are all the hover boards?!

Reader Comments (25)

Amen sister

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Just yesterday, while biking in Golden Gate Park, I spotted the cutest, sweetest, tiny girl wearing a sundress and riding her wee bike while being tended to in the gentlest way by HER TWO DADS. If that isn't a reason for legal gay marriage, well-- just shoot me. Put me out of my misery, as the pea brained mutherfuckers just continue on....

Shall I get started on the NYC cultural center? Monica- you are crazy, in the very best way! We love you.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

You said it, Monica!! Thanks for standing up and being counted.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Well said! Especially the part about the "still small voice". Thanks for always being able to put into words some of the exact same things I think/feel/believe in. Wish I had your talent.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnjie B.

Exactly! I've got goosebumps!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBee

Hear hear!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Love it!! Jesus said love everyone..

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm

Apart from agreeing with all the above - I'll just say this. The most god loving, bible bashing, religious zealots that I have known - have turned out to be the biggest philandering, hypocritical liars I have ever met. Head of my Sunday school? Ran off on his 3 kids and wife for another woman - that he had been seeing for over 15 years... And that is just one. I always find that those who protest so greatly, do so a little too much. Is it because they want to ignore their own gay tendancies? Or because what they don't know scares them? Better to damn folk instead. I'm always suspicious of those whose lives are governed by a learned behaviour - shoved down their throats. Are they afraid to just be themselves?

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCrummyMummy

Word up sister. I love it.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn Harter

oh, i love it when you get all soap boxy!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchristine from canada

I agree with the above poster, I love when you get all soap-boxy on this cause. It's a huge one for me, as well. You say it very well, you really do.

So, I really need to read The Help, huh? I have no idea why, but I keep picking this book up at Target and putting it right back down again. Everyone raves, but now that you've raved, I will go get it.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkds

Well said, lady. Future generations from now -- and it won't take many -- will look back in shame.

You go all crazy on that soap box anytime!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

This is my first time commenting but I just HAD to! Thank you so much, Monica, for speaking out and being passionate about what you believe in. Swap out Mormons for hardcore Southern Baptists and you've pretty much described my experience to a T. I love my family, but fear and hatred will make a lot of decent people to batshit crazy things. Such a shame.

Keep speaking up!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan

Amen.

Well said!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

That is exactly how and why you rock!!!! Gay rights are very close to my heart. Many of my dearest friends are gay. Just before leaving a small university town in Mississippi I met the sweetest, cutest gal. She hopped out the door of Square Books with both feet, and bopped over to me on the balcony. She introduced herself to me, and asked about the book I was reading. She was so full of life and curiosity. Absorbing everyone and thing around her in this new town. She quickly started hanging out with a group of gals I affectionately call The Young Lesbian Brigade. They are all very dear friends of mine.
She had had only one boyfriend in High School. They came out to their parents together their Senior year, and are still best friends. I don't know that I can tell you what happened to her. The case has yet to go to court. All I can say is that it was brutality at its worst. She was raped and disfigured after being drugged in a bar. The way people in that town treated her after the fact is almost as disgusting as the crime itself. Bar and restaurant owners began banning the brigade calling them a liability. Some of these people I once also called my friends. I went back to that town to say fair well to a friend who passed last week. I wanted to forgive all of them, but this I can not. I will not. And I won't forget. I'll stand up for them, my dear, sweet gay friends, anytime, anywhere, always. Call me crazy #2.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

Monica, keep on being all crazy, real and delightful. These hormones you got raging are only gonna make this a more interesting fall for all of us dear readers. (I'm not saying that the hormones are in any way related to your box adventures). I, like you, fight a near daily battle with ignorance and some days.....it is a struggle to remain graceful. You combine passion, tolerance and just the right amount of vitriol. Just remember there are a lot of hands out here extended in your direction to applaud, give you a high-five, hold your hair while you barf or just raise you plain up.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkatherine

I have to say this. I am Mormon, I love your blog, but I cannot stand all of the bitter comments you make about Mormons. My sister is gay, and I love her. I go to Pride parades with her and I support her. I love my religion, but I do not have anything against gay people and I think that they should be able to marry. This is no secret with me, everyone who knows me, knows that I feel this way.

I believe you are a very good writer and I love your blog and how you write whatever you feel like writing without trying to cater to anyone. Is there any way you can stop with the angry Mormon comments>?? I know there are so many people you know and admire that are Mormon and I truly feel you have deep issues with the religion itself, but please do not generalize and bash every Mormon and assume how we all feel towards gay people. Thank you.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned

I completely appreciate your position and applaud you for your stance. I'll bet it means the world to your sister. I really wasn't generalizing Mormons in this post at all, but referring specifically to relatives and many people I grew up with, people whose opinions on gay marriage I'm quite familiar with. I address those people several times.

But I'm wondering how you reconcile your stance on gay marriage with your religion? If you support gay rights then you should be as angry with the Mormon stance as I am. You say you don't want to be lumped in with people who support Prop 8 but when your religious leaders urge members in Sacrament Meetings to donate to the Prop 8 campaign, when your religious leaders are extremely vocal about not allowing gay people the civil right to marry, well, you shouldn't be surprised by some generalizations about Mormons and their stance on gay rights.

I admittedly have issues with the Mormon church and the attitudes of many of its members. Attitudes that prompt much of what I write here, so no, I don't think the angry Mormon comments are likely to stop. Because of where I live, because I'm related to so many Mormons, because most of my childhood friends are Mormons I still deal with these issues every day and I assure you, they offend me as much as I offend them. But my issues are with specific parts of the religion and specific attitudes of some of its members and these days I try to stay away from a lot of generalizing. I don't always succeed, but I try.

Thanks for commenting.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

Monica,
First I want to apologize for asking you to change the way you write on your blog. I shouldn't have, it is your blog and you should write whatever you want, it is one of the things I admire about you. :)

I thought all day about your question. The truth of the matter is, I don't make any apologies or regrets to anyone on my stance on gay marriage. It tends to be a hot topic when it does come up with my friends who are members, but I always stand up for gay civil marriage. I am not as good as you are at articulating my words, but here it is, I am giving it a try.

I have never once been asked to donate to Prop 8 in any church meeting I have ever been to. I am not saying it does not happen, I am only saying that I have never seen it happen. There were a lot of other people involved in Prop 8, but it seems the Mormons are getting all the blame. (in my opinion) I understand why our leaders would not allow gay people not to get married in the temple because it is not what the religion believes is in God's plan. I do not, however, understand how anyone can say who can have a civil marriage. That, I do not and will not ever understand.

To answer your question Monica, I have not come to terms with it fully yet. I am only human and this has been a very hard subject for me to come to terms with in my religion. I believe in my heart that one day, I will come to terms with it and understand. BUT, I will never, ever, ever condone the mistreatment of the gay community by ANY religious group, including my own.

I really appreciate your response. I am sorry I am so scattered with my reply, I just have so many things to explain, I cannot seem to get it all on here. If any of it doesn't make sense, please tell me. I will try my best to answer any other questions you have in a better organized reply. ;)

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned

If this book talks about what is holding up the hover boards then i need to immediately read this. I cant believe that they don't exist it must be one of those conspiracies, probably perpetrated by the right or left, possibly "The Gays", or "The Un-gays" . But somebody has my m@#$! F!@#$ing hover board and that is who I hate, "The anti-hover board establishment".

Oh yeah..Gay rights are good. Gay marriage will stimulate the economy. Just think of all the extra court filing fees for the marriage licenses and for the divorces. Not that they will all end in divorce, but I hear Gay people are just like regular f#$%$d up people and will probably get some divorces just like us Non-gay people. Who gets alimony if two Gay people divorce? If I were gay I would have to marry a dude who wears exactly the same size clothes as me, that way I double my wardrobe. Take that you gayless marriages, you don't double your wardrobe, unless you are a cross dressing non-gay married to a man/woman who wears your same size, and then that is just cheating. If they ever propose a ban on cross-dressers marrying I will support that, but only if they marry someone the same size and with the same taste in clothes. I mean there is strange and then just flat wrong. I mean wrong like Canadian Bacon wrong. I say we call ham ham, otherwise we are just insulting bacon, and I am not sure about you but I don't want to be on bacon's bad side.

To summarize:
Gay rights YES
No Hover Boards NO
Canadian Bacon NO
Bacon Anytime

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

I don't think the government understands how much money they could make off of gay rights...and gay marriage. I mean, we're in a recession, right? A depression, according to the doomsday naysayers.

Seriously, right with you, SISTAH! I wish that more of my God-fearing, Christian relatives would practice what they preach. Instead of having such hatred and animosity towards their fellow man, they should try turning the other cheek. Don't hit me with bible quotes, yo. I've read the bible. But I practice the part where it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." You know, like Jeebus said? Yeah, THAT.

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Domestic Goddess

yes! definitely yes for you and your statement! I'm so fed up with tight and conservative church' values as well... and please don't change your craziness, okey? :)

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

You go! Love this line, "There are relatives and friends I grew up with, people I know who are well-intentioned, good people but people I couldn't spend five minutes in the same room with because I know how they feel about The Gays and such." I am not Mormon, but went to high school in a rural area and have some plain old conservatives and conservative Christians in the family. I have almost quit Facebook more than once because I can't stand their vitriolic prosthelytizing .

August 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSaffoula

I love you...and that is all.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Please continue to be "crazy" - this post is so perfect it almost made me cry. Thank you for speaking up! : )

~ Jill

www.kinyama.blogspot.com

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill

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