Of Friends and Enemies

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In high school, I volunteered as a referee for AYSO soccer. I didn’t know a thing about soccer, wasn’t very good at soccer, and didn’t take too nicely to suburban parents becoming physically upset over a call then proceeding to have a massive cow on the sidelines. I needed community service hours and thought it was a good idea.

It was a terrible idea, and I hated it.

I thought all I had to do was watch when the ball went out of bounds. But actually I had to also tell people when to do a corner kick (?) and call fouls. I had no idea what I was doing. One day, I met a girl there, about my same age, wearing the same uniform, who seemed to know a tad bit more about soccer than I did. She said that her mom was the volunteer organizer and was in desperate need of referees for games on Saturday. She asked if I could help out. I sighed and said I could, but only if she was the center ref on the field and I was allowed to ref the side. (Or in other words, referee the part of the game I understood.)

We soon became friends, bonding over our dislike for AYSO soccer, our sympathy for the kids who were forced to play, and over our shared religious beliefs and middle class status. We liked the same movies and shows, some of the same music, knew the same people, had the same insecurities and hopes for the future.

We went to school dances together, church youth group activities, hung out at each others houses, went out to dinner, met each others families, and went to high school parties. We even went skydiving together. One weekend night I went to her house for a party where the issues of milk came up. It was the first time I had heard about the “gallon challenge”-the challenge for a person to drink a gallon of milk in one sitting. Someone at the party said it was impossible, something about too much lactose and the body not being able to take in that much milk at one time. I was an impetuous 17 year old and proudly affirmed that I could do it. “Bring me a gallon of milk and I’ll drink it all!” I said. I could even drink 2 gallons of milk if I felt like it. Sometime shortly after this bold declaration, I found myself in the back yard, surrounded by dozens of teenagers cheering me on. I got to the very end of the gallon, probably just a few more big swallows when disaster struck. I started puking milk all over my friend’s back yard. I had failed the gallon challenge, but I had done it with style and class. For years after that happened, we would still laugh about how foolish I looked, shirtless, puking a gallon of milk up all over the back lawn.

Our relationship was always platonic, yet crass and with an inappropriate, comfortable humor. One time I told her I thought it was going to rain. “How do you know?” She asked, to which I replied, “I can feel it in my boner.” No offense was ever taken; everything was in playful, good fun.

We were in each others lives as we made the transition from teenager to young adult. She wrote me letters when I lived in Russia, she was at the airport when I came home. I helped her move into apartments. I visited her when she moved to a rural farming town in Eastern Arizona to go to school. I met her friends. We spent some nights driving around the desert, thinking out loud about existence and our lives. I met the guys she dated. I don’t remember how I came out to her, although I don’t remember it being an earth-shattering event. Maybe it was for her.

We started to see less and less of each other as our lives went in different directions, as time became more limited and our responsibilities greater.
She got pregnant, and married. I was at the hospital when her daughter was born. A year later, she and her new husband went to the temple, as all good Mormons are prone to do. She started to become more and more pious, pontificating about the blessings of temple marriage and the influence of the Mormon Church in her life.

Unfortunately, by illegal and unethical means, a measure was put on the Arizona ballot in the 2008 election, known as Prop. 102. Prop 102 did nothing except add an exclamation point to an already existing, discriminatory law. Prop 102 was about “protecting marriage”, yet protecting it from what I’m still uncertain. Gay marriage was already illegal in the State of Arizona, the Supreme Court of Arizona had previously upheld that law, and the people of Arizona had already voted on the issue of “defining marriage” in 2006 and was the first state to defeat such a measure. (In 2006 it was known as Prop 107.) In the weeks leading up to the election, I was campaigning against Prop 102 and I sent my friend of 10 years a text message, reminding her to vote against it, and to support equality for all. She responded that she intended to vote for it, as the church had requested, that she believed marriage was only between a man and a woman.

I reminded her that her husband was not Caucasian, as she is, and that her very church had taught not long ago that marriage was only between a white man and a white woman and that interracial marriage was an abomination, offensive to god and that anyone in an interracial marriage was to be killed “on the spot.” I reminded her that if it wasn’t for people like me who defend freedom and equality for all, that her marriage would be illegal.

She responded by saying that my point was irrelevant because the church didn’t teach that anymore, and that gay marriage was a “moral issue.”
I reminded her that she was pregnant before she got married, and that many people would consider that to be highly immoral. I asked her by what right did she condemn others thorough legislative powers, but her immorality was sanctioned?

She responded by saying that she was my friend and had always offered her friendship.

The thing that made me the most upset was that she evaded every single question. Instead of admitting that she didn’t have a moral high ground, or accepting the fact her own marriage was at one time considered immoral, she just tried to bypass any intellectual thought and instead play on emotions. It felt like the bully on the playground who punches you in the face, pushes you into the mud, then is surprised that he’s not invited to your birthday party, because, hey, you’re friends, right?!

I made a decision at that point to never speak to her again. A man must never support his enemy. (The word “enemy” is not hyperbole in this instance. She can hold whatever belief she wants, she does not have the right to use force to make others do the same. That type of person is an enemy to freedom, reason, and happiness.) I deleted her number from my phone, deleted her as a friend on MySpace and Facebook and after ten years, deleted her from my life.

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  • Rob
    March 16, 2011

    Sadly, this is typical of most active Mormon responses to such questions, and sometimes you really have no choice but to do what you did. I applaud your integrity and am sad with you that it cost you such a friendship.

    • Seth Anderson
      March 16, 2011

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comment.
      You’re right, it is all too typical. It breaks my heart when I meet young Mormon kids who have been kicked out of their houses, or whose parents refuse to speak to them or who lose their entire social system. It’s so unnecessary.

      She was a good friend, we were very close, and I still haven’t spoken to her since this happened. I guess I’m lucky in that my family is supportive and active with me in the fight for equality. That knowledge keeps me going.

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