Sometimes living and loving honestly and truthfully is the best revenge

In a triumphant turn of events last month, voters elected Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama over accused sexual predator and known homophobe Roy Moore. Shortly after the win, Jones’s son — Carson Jones — who at the time said he “couldn’t be prouder” of his dad, confirmed to The Advocate that he’s gay. On Wednesday, Carson Jones stood side-by-side with his dad as his father took the Senate oath of office, administered by virulently homophobic VP Mike Pence. Shortly after, Carson Jones, who goes by TheDapperZookeeper on his Instagram page — which includes celebratory photos of the day his father won the election, Pride photos, and a picture of him meeting Lance Bass at a gay bar — posted a photo at the oath-taking in which he appears to be staring pointedly at Pence. “#nocaptionneeded” is one of the hashtags Carson Jones invoked to describe the photo.

I absolutely LOVE the above photo. Carson Jones is clearly savoring a moment of victory…and the simple satisfaction of demonstrating to a confirmed homophobe that he’s just a person like anyone else. It must have galled VP Mike Pence, who while Governor of Indiana, signed legislation which would have allowed citizens to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals…and also amended Indiana’s constitution to ban marriage equality.

No one should be able to use “religious conviction” to justify discrimination and homophobia. Attempting to codify it into law is beyond reprehensible…and it’s (not quite) EXACTLY what Jesus would do, eh?

On one hand, it was a simple swearing-in ceremony. Doug Jones became the newest member of the Senate, thus reducing the Republican majority from 52-48 to 51-49. That puts Democrats one small step closer to being able to blunt the onslaught of the rapacious, greed-fueled Republican agenda. It gives Democrats a powerful voice for decency and compassion, and it fuels hope that the gains for equality made during the Obama years won’t be crushed and tossed aside.

At the time of his father’s win, Carson Jones said, “I am obviously thrilled with my dad’s victory. We have been overwhelmed by the support of so many people that made this happen. Alabama made a really big statement that unity wins out. I couldn’t be prouder of him or my home state!”

He also hashtagged the photo of the swearing-in with “#wemadeit.”

Carson Jones, as is true with virtually every LGBTQ person I’ve ever known, is probably interested in one thing: Living his life as any other American would be allowed to. It’s as if he was staring down the Vice-President in order to demonstrate that he’s no different from any other biped. He has hopes, dreams, aspirations, and a life he wants to live without the impediment of discrimination. Why that should be so difficult for so many “decent” Americans to realize defies rational understanding.

(While I’m on the subject, I’d like to ask anyone who disagrees with me to show me where Scripture sanctions defining LGBTQ individuals as second=class citizens in the eyes of the law. No, you can’t cherry-pick from the Old Testament. If you’re eating shellfish and/or wearing clothes of mixed fibers, you have no argument.)

It’s difficult not to admire the courage of Carson Jones. It can’t be easy being openly gay in Alabama. His courage in being who he is in a place not amenable to those who are “different” is impressive. That he would stand proudly on a stage with his father and the Vice President wasn’t necessarily a political statement. He was proudly supporting his father- now the junior senator from Alabama. Like any proud son, he felt no need to shrink in the moment.

The Vice-President- and those members of the American Taliban who share his views- are free to feel as they wish about homosexuality. It’s still a free country, and the 1st Amendment grants them the right to their opinions. What they don’t have is the right to force their narrow, authoritarian morality on all Americans. Just as they have every right to their beliefs, Carson Jones has the right to live his life in an authentic and genuine manner.

What consenting adults do behind closed doors (and, more importantly, how they choose to live their lives) is no one’s damned business but their own. How dare Mike Pence and the American Taliban delude themselves into the conviction that their morality- and ONLY their morality- is the “right” one?

Sometimes, the simple act of being who you are is the best way to fight the good fight. The picture of Doug Jones staring down the Vice President is beautiful in its defiance, courage, and unapologetic pride. He’s more genuine and courageous than Mike Pence will ever be.

Love is love…and NO ONE should have the right- legal or otherwise- to determine how another human being lives and models that love.


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