Gay-marriage column prompts profane response, surprising ending

I received many passionate responses to last Sunday's column on gay marriage.

Most supportive. Some objecting. But one call stood out.

It started politely enough — almost erudite — yet crescendoed with this: "Why don't you go [expletive] yourself? Or in fact, why don't you let your boyfriend [expletive] your [expletive] just the way you like. Because it's not going to change the rest of our minds about what marriage means. So [expletive] off."

It was, of course, left anonymously — the way many of the toughest talkers demonstrate their bravado.

But for some reason, this message stuck with me. The guy sounded too smart to say something so crude.

So I Googled his number off my caller ID and found out who he was with relative ease. Not only was he educated, he was a classically trained musician.

I had to know more. So I called him back.

He answered. And after I introduced myself, I began reading back to him the transcript of his voicemail.

He tried to stop me.

I did not let him.

I told him that, if he was going to leave such a message, the least he could do was listen to his own words.

And I read them. All of them. (Prompting some puzzled looks from my nearby co-workers.)

At first, he said he stood behind every word.

But, by the end of the conversation, he apologized. Profusely, sincerely and repeatedly.

We actually had some good back and forth.

I learned about his perspective. He learned about mine.

He was surprised to hear, for example, that I was married — and that my wife and I had just celebrated our 17th anniversary. (That netted a meek "congratulations.")

But what really came out was his frustration.

Not just by my column. Or even by evolving stances specific to gay rights. He was frustrated that the world in general was changing in ways he didn't expect or appreciate.

He felt "nostalgia for a different time and place."

 

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