We sat last night, as we usually do, finishing dinner and going over the minutiae of our day. Was it a productive day? Not so much. Did you learn something new? Always. Of course, it helped to be sipping a very nice Pinot Noir; red wine always makes a conversation flow.
Carlos was telling me about preparing a presentation on HIV for one of the local churches. No, not the Baptists, because Baptists don't do anything that might lead to HIV. The church in question was an Islamic church in Columbia. Carlos had given a presentation there once before and it was very well-received, so his group was asked back, with one caveat.
They needed to have a woman available to talk to the women in the church.
Carlos didn't quite understand this. He knew that men and women worshipped separately, and that woman were considered subservient to men, but he couldn't grasp how this is possible in the world today. He said it was abnormal for women to be treated, and to let themselves be treated, that way.
I said he was looking at Islam from a different perspective; from growing up in Mexico City to living the last twenty-odd years here in the US, and that his view was not the view of Islam, so he couldn't judge them based on his own experiences.
But it isn't normal, he said.
That lead us to a conversation about what is normal. An interesting chat considering we're a gay couple and, depending on whom you believe, and who yells the loudest. most people think we're abnormal.
So, what is normal?
My parents were married almost fifty-two years before my mother passed away. That isn't normal, when you consider the divorce rate these days. They had three children, so is that normal? Couldn't be because the Morrison's from across the street only had two children, so was that normal? But then what about the couple that lived next door? They had no children, but they did have a Great Dane who had his own room and a twin bed to sleep in. How's that for normal?
I'm gay. Is that normal? There are theories that suggest 10% of the population is gay, but 30% of my parents children are homosexual, Extrapolate that out to include the children of my aunts and uncles, and 14% of my population is gay; and the number gets smaller if you factor in the aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews that have been added over the years.
So, what is normal, and why do we base normality on our own experiences rather than celebrating what is different about each of us? My normal isn't even Carlos' normal; he is an only child. So, do I think of him as abnormal, or is that me?
Are the women who worship separately at an Islamic church abnormal, or is that simply the way of life for them?
See, normal isn't normal. It shifts and varies with each of us, based on socio-economic issues, issues of geography and education and faith and sexual orientation and gender and age. There really is no normal.
Which is normal.