Letters to Home: It’s Never Too Late To Change Your Perspective

Dear Bro,

In the dictionary there are two distinct definitions of perspective. One deals with the way we can draw an object to make it look like it has dimensions — in other words, so the eye will perceive, say, an object in a picture as being three-dimensional. The other says: “A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.”

That second definition is meaningful to me because I’m realizing now that it’s possible to take multiple perspectives on seemingly everyday things.

Every day we perceive our surrounding and make interpretations about how things are — or are going to be — based on our experiences and learning. For example, consider the math equation 2 + 2 = 4. We all learned this early in elementary school; some even learn it before they enter kindergarten.   

Most of us don’t even think about how we’ve been trained to perceive the world. So when most of us see a fruit bowl with say, two apples and two oranges, we just perceive two different kinds of fruit. We don’t normally treat it as a math equation — as an example of 2 + 2 = 4. We see a bowl of fruit. Math just isn’t applied. For most people, fruit is just fruit, not a math equation.

Some perspectives we develop without realizing they’re based on who our parents are, and also on where we were raised. You and I grew up in the “north” — mostly in Ohio and Michigan, with a short stint in Maryland.

It was also the 1960’s. Dad worked in a job where we moved a lot — roughly every two years, on average. The towns we moved to were small and all-white, as far as I knew. They were populated by married couples made up of husbands and wives.

I don’t remember anyone of color or any ethnic variety in any of the those towns. I don’t even remember seeing or knowing anyone who had what used to be called an “alternative lifestyle” (the most polite way people had back then to refer to LGBTQ+ people). The only context I recall from those days is a white heterosexual one.

A new perspective on love and marriage

Remember when we were living in Michigan when the Detroit riots broke out in 1967 and 1968? It was scary. I remember the rioters being referred to using the “n” word. When we moved to Maryland, I was a bit scared because there were Black people as part of the community. But I had no need to worry, because once I got to meet and know some fellow students of color, I found they were just like me. Like us, they were just taking each day as it came. In other words, my perspective changed.

My perspective on marriage and couples was girls and guys dated lots of people until they found the right person of the opposite sex, then they got married and had kids — a pretty antiquated idea.

In my world at the time, the word “gay” just meant you were light-hearted and carefree. In that context, the hippies of the time were considered gay — because they were carefree. I don’t remember knowing about any protests in New York City by gay people who were tired of being harassed — you know, the ones that gave birth to the first Gay Pride celebrations every June? Of course, we all know about them now.

A new perspective on ways of loving

When I got to college to work on my bachelor’s degree, I met my first person who openly identified as “gay.” We had discussions about God, and about her living in sin as a gay person. I couldn’t imagine that my God of love could guide me to do anything other than love her no matter what the perspective of the world toward gay people was. Getting to know her expanded my notions about who someone could love to understand that there were actually many ways to find love — and many people to love.

Fast-forward to now, and my perspective on people has changed a lot over the years. I am finally at the point where I feel myself trying very, very hard to accept people right where they are. You are a great example Bro. So is my Pastor, Paul.

I pray that everyone can be open to changing perspectives once they get to know someone who fits in the category of “human” — a category that’s bigger than all the ones we think matter: immigrant, gay, person of color, lesbian, transgender, disabled. Because let’s face it, God’s perspective is blind to all the categories we as humans create. God truly loves everyone.

We can only hope God’s perspective is taught to everyone. It sure opens one’s mind and perceptions of life and of others.

And may the idea of differing perspectives turn into something that is taught to today’s youth. I like that over the last 20-plus years I’ve identified as gay, my fear of sharing that with others is almost gone. At work, I am me. At church, I am me. My heartfelt wish for everyone is that they can be their honest selves without persecution, or at least without being limited by someone else’s narrow interpretation of who they actually are.

Love ya bro.

Love, Alyce