Now That I Have Your Attention….

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Well, I have a lot more to say! I guess my extended blog absence is over. Maybe. I’m a bit rusty, to say the least. Before I launch into my posts about my life and loves and ups and downs, I need to say a few more things about religion, apologies and forgiveness.

Some friends have mentioned to me that they are surprised that I — as a lesbian — shop at B&H. To which I say, have you ever been there and interacted with their salespeople?! They are amazing! They will spend hours with me, without rushing me, to make sure I get exactly what I need. I swear they are all professional photographers moonlighting in sales for deep discounts. They are honest to a fault: They have many times talked me out of a more expensive product for one that serves my specific needs better. And they teach me things, like exposure compensation and what that setting is on my camera, so I always walk out of there knowing more than I did when I came in. They are living, breathing camera manuals and they have, for certain, made me a better photographer. Take that, Best Buy!

There is little doubt that the amazing customer experience at B&H has won over scores of customers. However, people are questioning my patronage because of the store’s owner’s religious affiliation. This store is founded and run by people who observe Hasidism, a conservative branch or Orthodox Judaism. The store also employees many people who are religiously observant. I am aware that the Orthodox Jewish doctrine does not condone homosexuality, but most organized religions are not known for being particularly gay friendly. Certain churches or synagogues or temples may set aside anti-gay tenets and have a more open community, but those places of worship are few and far between.

I neither have, nor will I ever, pick where I shop based on the owners’/employees’ religious identification. I don’t care who you worship or what religious doctrines you follow, as long as you are respectful to me. Because the reality is, while Catholicism doesn’t respect homosexuality, many Catholics do (including some of my closest friends). Mormons have an anti-gay history, but not all Mormons are anti-gay (and I know a collection of gay Mormons!) And so while I realize that the Orthodox religion doesn’t condone homosexuality, I am not going to paint all Orthodox people with that paintbrush.

Political views? Well, that is a whole different animal. If a corporation of any kind uses its stage to express viewpoints that oppose mine, then consider me a former customer.

Chick-Fil-a’s COO is on record opposing gay marriage. He says his company supports the “biblical” definition of family. (Oops. That’s not my family.) And they put their money where their mouth is: They fund — to the tune of millions of dollars — anti-gay groups that work hard to end gay-friendly legislation. It is a pretty easy decision for me not to eat at Chick-Fil-a—which is a shame because I do really like their sandwiches.

Unless a country, a store, a restaurant, a corporation or entity of any kind states in any way that they are anti-gay, I am fine. There are times when I MUST do research: We are taking the girls on a vacation outside of the country, and you better believe I did ensure that the country gay friendly. But can you imagine how exhausting that is to do that on a daily basis? Do I have to interrogate every single teacher of my children? Must I interview the owner of, say, the local dry cleaner to determine is they belong to any political group or religion that is anti-gay? And then to demand to interview every employee to see where they stand on the issues that are important to me and my family? It simply doesn’t work that way for me. Maybe that makes me a failed activist. But I trust that my children’s teachers —regardless of political and religious affiliation, and personal views — will be respectful to my children. And if they are not, watch out. And if that dry cleaner put up a sign denouncing the Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage ruling, well, I would take my business elsewhere in a New York or Northampton minute.

Forgiveness, well that comes easy to me, most of the time. It’s selfish act, in a way, because by forgiving I am releasing the anger or resentment or bitterness that I carry for whatever offense or perceived offense. I simply cannot hold onto things like that. It’s exhausting for me, and puts me in a bad mood. Forgiving myself, well, that’s another blog post; I need to work on that.  But forgiving others is old hat. So I forgive, because it’s worth it in the end to now end up one of those bitter people. Have you seen those people? The ones that hold onto wrongs for decades and steep in bitterness? That will never be me. It’s just not who I am.

Pictured above: Why is this so important to me? Because my children are listening. And watching.

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