Saturday, June 4, 2011

And...We're Back!

If you read this blog, chances are you know me fairly well. It will not surprise you to know my family often describes me as 'mouthy.' I prefer 'outspoken' or 'opinionated'; 'firm in her convictions' is a personal favorite and I'll even cop readily to 'righteously indignant' but, perspective matters too and sometimes I AM mouthy. As a child, I was a back-talker, even if the highly charged atmosphere in my home meant that back-talk was always under my breath and most often into a pillow. As an adult, I stopped muttering and whispering and found my voice. There's not much silence in my corner of the world.

And, since Britt's death and the subsequent loss of filters that comes, frankly, from having little left to lose, it's only gotten, well, louder. I say what I think. What I believe is not a mystery. No one ever has to wonder where I stand on an issue, large or small. This isn't always easy to live with, I know, and I appreciate each and every one of you who's hung in there. Because, I do believe it matters. It's important to know yourself and what you stand for. And it's important to stand and be counted, especially if what you are standing up for might make a difference in the lives of others.

Facebook, for all its silly games and sometimes endless repetitions of dinner menus also offers a space to make a stand, to spread the word. I often link to articles I read that move or anger me; post news updates that cheer or horrify me; and, yes, call people out when they post something that sticks in my craw, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, or just leaves me thinking 'What?! Really?!' I had one of those "are you kidding me?" moments yesterday. Through my dear friend Renee, I've become FB friends with Connie Schultz. [For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Connie is, among other things, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, an author, a political activist and, because it's an important part of this story, also the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown. I am a long-time admirer of the Writer and the Senator, both.] On Thursday evening, Connie posted this picture on her page:

On Friday morning, I was a little shocked to see it there. I clicked to see what she had to say and, well, the next part of this story is Connie's to tell, so in her words - with her permission - this is what happened next:

"Yesterday, I posted this photo and shared an exchange I had with a stranger who doubted that I could have an Eagle Scout in our home. (Sherrod and both of his brothers are Eagle Scouts.) This bumper sticker was meant to communicate my pride in my husband, and illustrate that conservatives have no monopoly on public service.

Today, Debi Carey Harbuck posted a comment that took me aback: "Connie, I have to tell you this disappoints me. Not your witty come-back to Guy #1, who clearly has an attitude problem, but you and the Senator, both, actively and publicly supporting (proudly!) an organization that openly discriminates against gays in the name of 'god' and 'faith.'"


I assured Debi that Sherrod and I have been in the trenches for decades on behalf of our LGBT friends and family members, but she pushed back: "I most certainly do respect your activism, and as the mother and step-mother of LGBTs, I have to respectfully disagree with this one choice. In places where institutionalized discrimination is entrenched, your support, and the Senator's, serves to legitimize and makes it harder for those who are excluded to make their case. There are many fine organizations (which I know you also support) that do good work for fatherless children without standing beneath an umbrella of hate and fear. I don't believe the discriminatory policies of the BSA will change until not-gay Americans serve notice that it just won't be tolerated and withdraw their support."

Debi is right.

I removed the bumper sticker this morning. Not everyone here will agree with this decision, and, as always, I welcome the discussion. I'm still very proud of Sherrod's childhood accomplishment, but the message matters. I am grateful to Debi for her honesty, and her advocacy

So. Today I am adding 'advocate' to my list of self-descriptors. And, I am going to keep on being a mouthy advocate for what I think is right. Because it matters. And because people are listening.


Kate Maloy said...

Debi, you are the one I am proud of! This whole exchange is just excellent--always respectful and never more than deeply felt.

Boomer Mojo said...

I am very proud of you & your many accomplishments...also,I love you ;)

Lisa said...

"Advocate" is a great thing to be able to say about yourself. We all need one at some point, and it's good to know people who are willing to step up. I said it before but I'll say it again, I'm proud to know you, Debi.

Tabby said...

I'm surprised you have never before thought of yourself as an advocate, Debi. It's one of the things I have long felt to be part of your authentic self!