i’ve had some thoughts percolating in my head for the past couple of weeks, and think maybe i can do something with them now.

the election is over. in two months, we’ll have a president who doesn’t put himself first. that’ll be nice. it also means some changes.

about two weeks ago, i met up with my best friend of 19 years (M). i’ll be pet-watching for her while she’s across the country visiting family. we needed to go over things i would be taking care of, and it was nice to see her in person. i’ve broken isolation for her twice, because while 2020 has been…2020 for all of us, she also lost her mom in January. before anyone goes wild in the comments, i sanitized before and after visiting, and everything i was wearing was either sanitized or went straight into the wash. Gana’s immune system is more borked than before, thanks to a new immunosuppressant medication, and i want to take as few chances as possible.

the visit was pretty much what i expected, up until the end when things turned political. i’ve known M has conservative views for years. it’s a side-effect of her semi-rural religious upbringing. i thought that as long as we didn’t get into arguments over whose views are correct, we were ok.

she started the conversation with a disclaimer that she didn’t want to tell me who she voted for. like, thanks. i can guess who you voted for now. she told me she didn’t want people telling her what to think, so she’s not getting news from mainstream news sources, and that Trump was admirable because he doesn’t care what people think. she talked about how it was awful that the news was calling the election for Biden when there was widespread voter fraud (no there wasn’t. yeah-huh! no, not really.), and newscasters don’t give Trump the respect he deserves as president (i mean, they still call him President, which is more than i can say for a lot of people). everybody focuses on the negative, they aren’t acknowledging the good he’s done.

i held my tongue, mostly. interjecting when she brought up blatant falsehoods, like the voter fraud.

somehow, she got to a point of talking about Muslims. i’ve heard her talk about Muslims before, how she’d watched an interview with a former Muslim who had nothing good to say about his former religion (which i’ve seen many times in people who’ve left Christianity/Catholicism for witchcraft.), stating that there was “no peace to be found in Islam.” i told her that i would make no judgements on a faith that i wasn’t familiar with. i’ve never read the Quran. she kind of brushed it off, and we didn’t talk about it again until i visited two weeks ago.

she has these paranoias that Muslims are going to (paraphrasing her words here) “infiltrate and breed, and impose Sharia Law because they’ll rise up and take over. it’s happened before, they’re like vermin.” and she can’t trust a Muslim because while “they need to be truthful to other Muslims, they can lie to infidels. really. it’s in the book.”

we also talked about the BLM protests, the defund/abolish the police movements, all the events of the year. she’s firmly against abolishing the police, and thinks the protesters are nothing but looters and vandals. and that George Floyd (her words again) “was not a good person. he was a rapist, that’s why the police were detaining him.”

i don’t remember what brought it on, i think it was something she said about the higher crime rates in Black neighbourhoods, and i told her that [what she was saying] sounded very racist. i know that as an effect of living in a society where my skin color benefits me, i’m racist. i’m working toward being better, being actively anti-racist. i’m not looking for kudos or head-pats, i’m pointing out that this is something white people need to do to help dismantle the cycle of racism that our societies are built on. to bring this all back to the story, calling out racism is a step in this process.

and at some point, she mentioned that a Biden presidency terrified her. i talked over her here, telling her why another 4 years of Trump was a nightmare for me personally. even without the history of racism, xenophobia, sexism, compulsive lying that we know he has, he’s also worked to remove rights for queer people. that’s me. that’s my family. for trans people. that’s me. that’s my family.

i left shortly after.

next time we talk in person, it’s probably going to be the end of our friendship. unless she can do some soul-searching and grow, we can’t be friends. i cannot be friends with someone who doesn’t respect that i have as much right to exist as she does. i cannot be friends with someone who intentionally overlooks parts of my identity because it makes her uncomfortable. i’ve been queer as long as i can remember, and have never hidden this from her.

i’ve spent the time from then until now thinking on this conversation and what it means. i’m scared. M’s been my best friend for a long time. she’s like a sister to me. but if she doesn’t think i deserve the same rights she does, then our friendship isn’t built on equal ground. it’s not a friendship.

last week? when the Christmas update for Animal Crossing was announced, i went off a bit. i didn’t realize how much it bothered me until i saw the announcement video. my point at the end of it was that Nintendo and the ACNH developers need to de better to make this game for everyone. some random person took offense to my thoughts and let me know that because they aren’t offended, no one else should be either. i muted them after my reply, so i don’t know if there was anything else added. i didn’t want to make another long thread on twitter, so here’s more of my thoughts on the Toy Day Christmas issue.

i have roughly 35 years of religious micro aggressions. years of “what are you doing for Easter? what are you doing for Christmas?” missing school to attend religious services, but Christians have all their holidays off because they’re all federally recognized/bank holidays. years of people assuming that because i’m American, i must be Christian. “what church do you go to?” sleepovers where i was expected to attend church and know whatever the fuck the preacher was on about. years of being uncomfortable with extended family because we’re the “non religious” part of the family. years of being told i’m going to burn in hell. just because someone isn’t offended doesn’t mean that no one else should be.

because i’m offended. i’m offended that Nintendo and ACNH in particular push Christmas and Easter on us, especially when there are alternatives that don’t directly reference Christian holidays. i’m offended that the Harvest Festival was renamed to Turkey Day, and that it coincides with American Thanksgiving.

Toy Day taking place on Christmas Eve strengthens the association to Christmas, and leaves players like me feeling ignored and silenced. after all, everyone celebrates Christmas, right? no. this thinking i’ve heard referred to as Christian supremacy, and i think that fits.

if Toy Day were earlier, it could be the Winter Solstice festival. Jingle could have a snowy white coat instead of a Santa red one. the event could be the same, just no references to Santa in dialogue. it’s not that hard. Bunny Day, which is clearly Easter, could be moved closer to the Spring Equinox. Zipper doesn’t have to change at all, the event doesn’t have to change. rabbits and eggs are symbols of life, of birth, of Spring. they’re associated with more than just Easter.

and the antisemitism needs to be addressed. Jewish players deserve recognition and actual decorations. the festive top set, which is a dreidel, can’t be customized to something other than red and green. literally every other Christmas item is customizable. the celebratory candles, which especially evoke the menorah in the blue and white colour, is a recoloured Kwanzaa kinara. there aren’t the same number of candles on a menorah and kinara. Jewish players deserve actual decorations, not just “good enough” recolours. Jewish players deserve to have a dreidel that isn’t forced into the Christmas colour scheme and renamed something that erases its historical and cultural significance.

while dealing with these and the other blows 2020 has dealt me, i lost a different friend. someone else i consider a sister. i’ve thought about that a lot too. it was a short friendship, lasting from May until November, but it was built on understanding and shared experience. we shared a lot of ourselves in that time. i told her about the issues with M, not really seeking advice but explaining why i was distant. she told me i was a kinder person than she is. this has been rattling around in my head for a few days now.

the way our friendship ended hurt. i don’t know if she’ll ever see this, but i don’t wish her ill. i hope she knows this. and just because she’s not in my life now doesn’t mean that i’m going to stop fighting antisemitism.

November has been a hard month. 2020 has been a rough decade. i really want a break, but i don’t think it’s coming anytime soon.

One Reply to “religion and friends”

Comments are closed.