More importantly I kept my power.
This strikes a particularly strong chord for me because I too came out in 1998. I too remember all that I lost in doing so. And like her, I too have shared laughs with some of the very people who contributed to the vilification of my community many years later. Not because we are sell-outs. Not because we have forgotten. But because anger cannot be the sole fuel propelling us on life’s journey. We also need love, for without it, we are no better than those who fear us.
To live with anger is to live powerless. That’s not to say the oppressed should never be angered by the actions of their oppressor. Only that anger can spark a movement but it should not order its steps. Not if the goal of the movement is peace.
To those who believe DeGeneres’ actions were some sort of betrayal, I ask what significant civil rights movement occurred without support from those on the “other side?” Would women have gained the right to vote without men in Congress supporting the 19th Amendment? Of course not. Tweets can inform, protests garner attention, but changing hearts and minds requires genuine human interaction. Like the kind captured in a photograph in which DeGeneres and Bush dared to sit next to each other and share a laugh.
The two may still be on opposite sides when it comes to LGBTQ issues or any one of the litany of issues Bush decided as President during his eight years in the White House. They may be on the same side in terms of enjoying their status as one-percenters. Who knows? But clearly, they found common ground in treating each other with respect. And for the life of me, I can see no harm in that.