SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2014       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Tyler Mastin

My New Stance

            As I was going through high school in Redondo Beach, California (2008-2011) I had a not-so-set idea on the issue of homosexuality and gay rights. Although I am not proud to admit it, I believed that it was morally disgusting that two members of the same sex would engage in sexual behavior. Like me, most of my friends believed in the same ideals but to a more extreme extent.


            My high school though, considered very conservative for the area, was very “in” with social issues, and had clubs to accommodate students involved with them. Clubs included the Polynesian Cultural Club, Hispanic Identity Club, and Gay-Straight Alliance. This latter was an organization known for having to face protests outside of the classroom where they met. Although I was not publicly out bashing the members of the homosexual community my stance on the issue was well known by my friends.


            One specific Friday of my sophomore year the Gay Straight Alliance was hosting a mixer with a bunch of other schools LGBT organizations, in hopes of creating an alliance among those the area. Unaware of why my friends had picked me up that day and were taking me to school, it became quickly apparent that I was on my way to help protest the club.  I can still remember that day vividly, our high school gymnasium, a place where most of both sides of the spectrum met and socialized in the day. The mood was even more eerie, the sun was setting and cast a light that made the whole situation feel and look like a cult meeting.


            When we got there a small group of people were all standing outside in the parking lot, most of whom were carrying signs with anti-gay messages written on them. The person who had arranged the group told us what we would be fighting for.


            As the kid spoke something went through me. A feeling of something not being right with the situation I was in. With my friends applauding the speaker and even shouting out homophobic slurs as well, I knew at that very moment that this was not the place I wanted to be, left the “rally” and headed home. I can just imagine what my friend was saying to himself.


            My faith is one of the most important things in my life and it should be the most important thing in everyones life. All of my friends know that, and I expect all my friends to share the same views as me. As what comes with a strong Christian faith I believe that it is a moral sin to be a homosexual, and I will do what ever I can to help spread my views. So I took a bunch of my friends to join a Christian group that was protesting the South Bay LGBT organization.”


            That Monday when I came back to school my friends met me by my locker. They were really mad at me for leaving the rally and not sticking through with as my friend put it, “Gods will.” I simply just told them I no longer felt the way they did about homosexuality, especially after the way they acted. I would like to tell you that was the end of the situation. But my friends brought it to a whole other level, going around and telling people the complete opposite of what really happened.


            When we arrived at the protest I preceded to hand signs to my friends and talk to them about the work that this church organization was doing. As the sermon started underway the pastor started chanting names and sayings to the members inside the LGBT center. That is when Tyler approached me saying not just to me but load enough for every one to hear, that what we were doing was wrong. “How could you treat other humans like that?” he said. But what sent me over the edge was him telling me, “None of you are God, so dont judge!


            That was the most outrageous saying I have ever heard. None of us claimed we were God. All we were doing was praising him and practicing his word. But before any of my friends or anyone else in the congregation could defend ourselves Tyler walked away. How could he treat us like that. We had every right to do what we were doing, and he had no right to speak for God.


            The reason why this event has stayed relevant in my mind for such a long time was the time in which the event occurred. I was in high school in California during the time when the election for Proposition 8 was a hot button issue. In case people dont know Proposition 8, or Prop 8, was a California ballot proposition that banned same-sex marriage in California, following the 2004 same-sex marriage controversy. If the history about Prop. 8 wasnt confusing enough, the election itself was. What I mean was if a person was voting for “yes” on Prop. 8, that meant that the person was voting for no same-sex marriage in California. If a person voted “no” on Prop. 8, that meant that the person was for same same-sex marriage in California. So naturally people got confused on what they were voting for.


            During the time in which my event took place Prop. 8 was going through the courts to determine if it was constitutional or not, having already been overturned in the lower courts. This, alongside the fact that Prop. 8 was a church based proposal the Mormon church was the main driving force behind the “yes” campaign really fueled the fire of the group of protesters I was apart of. Another key driving factor was the a majority of the members in protest were hard core Republicans, who supported former President George W. Bushs statement that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Now having President Barack Obama having recently said that he supported gay marriage it was just a matter of time before this group of people and or any group around this country lost their cool and started picketing groups like the one I was witnessing.


            It was a real eye opening experience seeing all these races of people, some with different political ideologies, economic backgrounds and educational levels all coming together to protest a group of people who only wanted to be accepted by the people who were out to get them. That to me was the main reason why I decided enough was enough and I left the group.

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