Dear Virginia

A few days ago, Ginny Montanez came out as a Republican on her very popular blog, That's Church.

But this Sunday while reading an article about the Port Authority service cuts that went into effect today, I was first shocked to see the 67J was cut, because I assumed that was a pretty profitable and popular route. But I was the most shocked that transit union president Patrick McMahon said this to the media:

Dan Onorato — union buster,” Mr. McMahon said. “That’s the label you will have whatever else you do in your life. You stink. You’re a Republican.”

The very day I outed myself as Virginia Montanez instead of PittGirl, Chad Hermann at the Radical Middle latched on to this letter to the editor I wrote when George Bush was re-elected, wondering how my readers were going to like me knowing I was a Republican. This resulted in some uproar from readers who were shocked I ever voted for a “war criminal.” Yes. WAR CRIMINAL. I voted for him because as you already know ME LOVE KILLING! GRRRRR.

Nearly 170 comments followed, many of which were very supportive of Ginny. What struck me?  How many people were willing to “accept” her Republican lifestyle because she isn't like the rest of them.  They liked her in spite of party affiliation. 

Say what?  Now I do not know Ginny personally, even though we brushed elbows at a fundraiser last summer.  I don't always agree with her and I have admittedly cast an envious glance or two at her comment sections. 

But here's what I do know. When I asked her to help me raise funds to provide holiday gifts to families experiencing homelessness and/or living with mental illness, she did it. She simply said “How can I help?”with no concern that holiday gifts for 44 year old mentally ill men living in a shelter is not content for a very sexy blog post.  It is just real.  She helped and there was absolutely no question from her about the worth or value of the cause. She just helped.

Here's what else I know. Republicans are good people. A very dear friend of mine is a conservative Christian fundamentalist.  I don't love him in spite of these facts. I love him because he lives the real values, not the hyped-up media portrayed values. I love him because we can agree that people need affordable housing and just disagree on how to create it. I love him because when I called him at 11 PM with an emergency, he was there by 8 AM the next morning and again the next day and the next.  He isn't a stereotype to me and he isn't an exception.  He reads me something, we argue and then we go have lunch.  It is all good.  I don't have enough fingers to count the ways he lived up to his values while the rest of us were talking about it.

My Dad is a Catholic Republican who loves George Bush and Rick Santorum. I try to talk with him about issues, but he has none of that talk. He is just glad I ended up with a lawyer, albeit a female, and treats her exactly like he treats my sister-in-law.

My point is that I love my friend and I love my Dad for who they are, not in spite of it. That's what I expect from them, right? No “lifestyle” comments, no “Sue and her friend” comments. My friend actually asks me a lot of questions and thinks my trust in the federal government is more perilous than my sexual orientation.

I write a political blog and I have taken swings at Republicans and probably did the very thing I'm railing about.

When I saw the piece in the Post-Gazette about Ginny, I just stopped what I was doing.  She wants good public transportation, so do I. It sure seems like we can write a big list of “things Sue and Ginny agree about” if we tried.

If you told me you liked me in spite of the fact that I'm a lesbian or because I'm not like “those” lesbians, I would take a deep breath and smile while sweetly asking you to explain and just watch you dig yourself in deeper and deeper to show what an unbelievable homophobe you really are.  I might punch you, but Ledcat frowns on potential lawsuits.

I like Ginny because she thinks 44 year old men living with mental illness in a shelter deserve a holiday gift just like kids and you and lesbians and George Bush.  I think George Bush deserves a holiday gift.  Seriously.  But remember I'm the lesbian who wants to be an evangelical (remind me to tell you that I might actually be able to pull that off).

Ginny doesn't need me to defend her. But I will say that I learned a lesson about my broad strokes. There is a difference between Republican parties, strategies, tactics, plans and belief systems AND people who are Republican. 

One thing I admire about Western PA Republicans is their willingness to be honest. There are a lot of Republicans in Democrat clothing and I find that abhorrent and self-serving the highest degree. But I also find it abhorrent to deny women reproductive healthcare. That's where it gets tough to sort out motives and beliefs and so forth. 

It is a murky path we tread, but let's try to be a little more genuine.  I have Republican friends, people I love and admire and appreciate. I have to work harder to remind myself that I am swooping them up into stereotypes.  Perhaps that's inevitable when you blog politically, but it doesn't feel very good. 

Frankly, if I had lunch with Ginny, I'd probably be more concerned about her pigeon-hating than her opinions on unions.  I like pigeons.  And unions.

And I like Ginny for putting this out there.  Good conversations require self-disclosures, both lofty and otherwise. 

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