It could be said that it's the result of an "us vs. them" mentality. It could be said that ambiguity makes people uncomfortable. It could be said that middle ground is seen as the bad part of town. Whatever the reason, it has become clear to me that those who hold to the center, who do not fit one extreme or the other, those who take up that space in the middle are not seen as diplomats or centrists or the halfway point on the spectrum, but as confused, or in denial, or playing both sides. We are the unholy middle.
At no time is this more obvious than when debating or discussing two positions that apply to me personally: agnosticism and bisexuality. Religion and sexuality come up often in debate, and the arguments against both agnosticism and bisexuality are annoyingly similar. There is an all too common distaste for this in-between position -- atheists and theists, homosexuals and heterosexuals, for just a moment, will join together to fight their common enemy.
Agnosticism, of course, is the position of not-knowing. I do not know if there is some sort of deity out there or not. I don't even know if such a thing is knowable. Many atheists claim that we are simply avoiding the inevitable conclusion, that we are playing the diplomat by refusing to say we don't believe in god. Many theists on the other hand will say we are just denying the obvious, ignoring the evidence. That if we would open our hearts just a tiny little bit, the truth of god would reveal itself. Both take on a position of claiming to know our beliefs better than we do -- they claim that we know the truth, we just won't admit it. Rarely considered is that we have searched for the truth, and been left wanting. That we have come to a conclusion, but that the conclusion is that there isn't one to come to. That there is no claim to be made, no information to go on. That the existence or non-existence of a deity is just another of the myriad mysteries of the universe, still waiting to be discovered, and that that's okay.
Likewise, bisexuality is the position of being neither gay nor straight. It is the natural ability or tendency to feel a romantic attraction to people of all genders, rather than just one. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals, however, have been kind enough to explain how wrong I am about my sexuality. That it's just a state of confusion, or a bucking of the status quo. That bisexuals are either homosexuals in denial, heterosexuals playing non-conformist, or some confused combination of the two. Rarely is it considered that bisexuality is a legitimate orientation, that a person really can feel attraction to both men and women, that people live this "phase" their entire lives.
Because these arguments are so painfully similar -- the idea that we exist in the middle because we are confused or in denial -- and because they are not espoused by all, but by a very particular type of person -- I can't help but speculate that this comes down to an "us vs. them" mentality. It seems some people are very uncomfortable with the in-between. They don't like grey areas. They like to know that you're either with us or against us. Like us or different than us. Part of this group, or part of that group. If you're in the middle, no one knows quite where you stand. They don't know if you support them or your enemy. They can't understand how you aren't one or the other, and they wish you would just pick a side. This idea, of course, works on the assumption that there are only two choices. Gay or straight. Believer or non-believer. Liberal or conservative. Us or them.
I would like to propose to those people, then, what to me is obvious. I would like to propose that there are far more than two options, far more people than just us and them. That there are people who cling to no extreme, who are neither gay nor straight, who do not see evidence for a god, nor evidence against one, who do not agree with any particular political ideology or align themselves with any particular group. That there is more than just black or white, and indeed, more than just different shades of grey -- there are bright and vibrant colors on both sides of the spectrum. More than that, I would like to propose that that's okay. That there is no requirement that one takes this side or that side, and that existing in the center is just as legitimate as existing anywhere else. That an agnostic really makes no claim, that a bisexual really isn't gay or straight, and that we really are not your enemy.