My grandma leaned slightly toward my mother, "Does his brother still have that friend?" "Does he live with his—friend?" My grandma was referencing my dad's gay brother. Mark has a husband, but my grandma referred to him as a friend. I thought I should correct her.
My mom attempted to correct me, "they aren't married."
I explained that Mark and his husband had been married a long time ago in Canada, but the marriage wasn't recognized in Texas.
"Well then they aren't married," my mom attempted to closed the conversation.
I could have furthered the conversation, but refrained. I could have countered that even though one state did not recognize their marriage, they were still, in fact, married. I could have debated with my mother in attempts to bring her ideological position to my side. I could have engaged in a back and forth recitation of our opposing opinions while getting angry at her opinion. I could have raised my voice as her voice raised to match. I could have festered all night in anger of her single mindedness on an issue I only came to support a couple years ago. I could have ruined a very special dinner she had made for my birthday this night and invalidated, temporarily, the love I have for her. I could have done a lot of things at this point in the evening and conversation.
I stayed quiet and went to work on my scrabble game letting go of my angst.
I thought later how easily it could have been to engage in an argument with my mother. I then realized, she isn't going to change her opinion because of my steadfast opinion. She won't soften her views because of my hardened views. She won't listen because of my loudness. Why am I trying to change her thoughts with my thoughts?
I supported traditional marriage up until a couple years ago. I had good, self convincing reasons, logic and opinions. I had people argue with me, shout me down, call me names and speak diligently and honestly with me. Nothing anyone said changed my mind. Words did nothing.
On my mission in the England London South Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we were encouraged to give service to those we were teaching. The idea was that through service, through our giving of ourselves, other's hearts would be softened. Through action, we could bring about positive change.
Words often do not change opinions. How many times have you heard someone say, "so-and-so talked me out of my convictions," or, "wow he spoke better than I do, he must be right." I have not heard anyone say things like that. What I have heard are examples of action changing opinions and beliefs: "I learned my son is gay and I realized I want him to be happy," or "I saw these two mom's and they were just as loving with their children as I am with mine." It is in action that great change can come.
I did not come to support marriage equality until I saw my best friend walk down the stairs to marry her beautiful bride. It wasn't until I felt the overwhelming love sweep into their wedding that I was convinced I wanted to be married, just like them, to a man one day. It wasn't until I was effected by action that I changed my opinion in favor of marriage equality.
The tens of people in the years previous to my changed stance never swayed my opinion. Their words never moved me. Little things got me thinking here and there; Hollywood got me thinking, but I wasn't convinced. The action of my best friend and her wife did. It was the active doing, the action, that finally moved me.
As the time I cried with my mom, discussing my desire to be married one day, words do little, but action does much. That is why I stopped and didn't further the argument over whether Mark and his husband are married or not. That is why I went back to my scrabble game without malice in my heart.
Mom, one day, I hope that my actions will bring you around to support my (future) wedding. I will not argue or try to verbally sway your mind, I am going to do it with my love for him. I will change you with my actions.