I Want To Hold Your Hand

Just a short, strange story for you.

Yesterday I was waiting for the El to bring me downtown to rehearsal. There was some kind of delay, so a crowd was gathering on the platform. Behind me there were two young women who I later heard were from China. They were speaking in Mandarin (from the few words I can recognize of Mandarin), holding hands, and giggling.

A man dressed in a respectable, if a bit wrinkled, linen suit approached them from behind. I was facing the other direction, looking for the train, but I could hear the basics of their conversation.

The man said, in a gentle voice, “Excuse me, but have you heard of the Bible?”

The women turned around, puzzled, and I assume said something like, “Pardon?”

Again he said, “Have you heard of the Bible?” Still a soft tone, not accusing, very courteous. I thought he was perhaps going to launch into some kind of conversion routine.

I didn’t hear exactly what he said next, but I heard their response. The young women said, “Oh, no! No, it’s not that, we’re from China and in China and Korea and Japan and a lot of other Asian countries, girls hold hands as a sign of friendship. That’s all–it’s a sign of close friendship, nothing else.”

The train was arriving at the time, and they continued their explanation as we got onto the train and as I realized what the entire conversation was actually about. Which, quite frankly, flabbergasted me.

First of all (let me get this out of my system), I thought everyone loved Asian lesbians. Seriously, who hates Asian lesbians?!

Second of all, in what world would coming up to two people holding hands and kindly explaining that you believe that what they’re doing is wrong ever work? What did he expect–that they would say, “Oh, sorry, our bad, we didn’t know, thank you for explaining to us, we guess we’ll only touch boys now?”

I was most thrown off by how gentle his approach was. I guess there’s something to be said for that. I’m sure he thought he was helping, fighting a battle in the Lord’s name or something like that. But all the same, I wanted to go West Wing on his ass, if he hadn’t stepped to the far side of the train. I wanted to say, “Hey, is that suit polyester? Because you know, Leviticus, the book that has that passage you’re talking about, also says no blended fabrics. Do you eat shellfish? Because that’s a no. And how much should I ask for when I sell my daughter into slavery–could you remember the passages about that for me?”

Don’t even get me started on the New Testament and the people Jesus hung out with.

I’m lucky enough to spend most of my time in warm, accepting, tolerant company, and sometimes I forget that even in a liberal city like Chicago, with its openly gay alderman (there is one, at least) and Boystown and huge Pride parade, there are people who strongly believe that consensual love between two adults is wrong when they happen to be of the same biological sex. Never mind that homosexuality occurs in many other species, never mind how mind-boggling it is that someone would choose to risk the kind of discrimination and even persecution that LGBT people face even now. If I get started on the nature/nurture rant or the bisexuality rant I’ll never stop, so I’ll save that for another time.

Til then, dear sir, this is what I would like to say, as kindly and gently as you spoke to those young women: If you believe that the Bible prohibits lesbians, and you believe in what the Bible says, and you fear eternal damnation, dear sir, I say to you, don’t be a lesbian.

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