Accepting anti-gay bigotry = dead children

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Sex columnist, speaker, and podcaster Dan Savage has been on a tear recently with his It Gets Better campaign. Here's the gist: after recent high-profile media coverage of yet more suicides by gay teenagers bullied at school, Savage encouraged older gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people—as well as those who support them—to post videos about how much better their lives became as they grew up. In other words, he wanted to emphasize that the despair of being young and bullied for having a different sexual orientation need not last forever.

As someone who was raised and schooled as a Catholic, Savage heaps particular scorn on churches and other religious organizations (especially in the U.S.A.) for their promotion of bigotry towards homosexuals like him, both within their congregations and in the more general political and social sphere. He minces no words:

...many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools.

And he doesn't go easy on more liberal Christians either:

I'm sick of tolerant, accepting Christians whispering to me that "we're not all like [anti-gay fundamentalists]." If you want to change the growing perception that "good Christian" means "anti-gay"—a perception that is leading many people to stop identifying themselves as Christian because they don't want to be lumped in with the haters—stop whispering to me and start screaming at them.

Dan articulates very well what I find frustrating (and doubtless gay people find infuriating) about the way our society talks about and deals with sexual orientation. Somehow it is still acceptable to be bigoted against LGBT people, when other bigotries (about race, class, gender) no longer are—and even to feel offended when other people call you out for it.

That acceptance has real consequences:

You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we're seeing the fruits of it: dead children.

Yes, LGBT issues being mainstream is a pretty new thing. For instance, despite Vancouver's progressive and liberal bent, when I was a teenager in the '80s, homosexuality was still pretty taboo. None of my high-school classmates was out, though several of them are gay. I doubt any of us imagined that same-sex marriage would be legal in Canada before our 20-year class reunion.

But social change should be rapid. Once we as a society realize that something is wrong, we shouldn't delay in correcting it. Mollifying bigots and bullies is not an excuse to slow down, especially if kids die when we do.

16 Comments

Dan articulates very well what I find frustrating (and doubtless gay people find infuriating) about the way our society talks about and deals with sexual orientation. Somehow it is still acceptable to be bigoted against LGBT people, when other bigotries (about race, class, gender) no longer are—and even to feel offended when other people call you out for it.

The reason for this is rather simple: You cannot see that someone is gay. You can tell the race, class or gender though, so it;s easily identifiable and also condemnable. But being "gay" is hard, because it could be you. You can always tell if you're black, or asian or... you get the idea, but there is no "gay mark", so it subverts the sense of self.

As such, there is not real desire to "stomp it out", it's the Ostrich system. If you stick your head in the sand (e.g. gay people aren't real), then you can ignore that you could have been gay. As such, it is much easier to make it out to being a "choice" and a choice is a personal thing, not something that is outside of the control of the person being gay. Hence why they are so gung-ho about trying to frame it as a choice instead of a natural state of being.

This makes even more sense if you look at the Kinsey scale, almost no one is on the extremes, almost everybody is to some degree or the other between. So even the "most straight" person will have had some thoughts about the same sex (e.g. "Nice smell" etc.), and probably most Gay people had a similar experience. That does not mean you "go all the way" but rather that you felt tempted and that is, I think, what scares most people.

The only way out of this is education, no law passed will make this change.... Can you see anybody be willing to invest in this?

My problem is the bullying rules should be stricter period. Not just for G/L bullies. I don't like the continued difference 'hate crime' penalties create.

It is easier to change yourself than change the world

Since there's no new threads and comments I'll chime in again.
I've been to mass and Catholics do care about starvation in third world nations,Palestinians, wealth inequality, police brutality, unemployment and other social issues. The Catholic church (from my own personal experience) does more good than bad.
The church is about preserving human dignity and forgiveness.
I don't condone discrimination, but the problem isn't religion but the way humans are biologically wired, for majority to turn on the minority. If religion were abolished there would still be rampant discrimination.

My daughters were in high school in Buffalo, NY in the 80's and they had openly gay classmates who attended the prom with same sex dates, and everyone was very matter of fact about this. It was just accepted. They were in an honors HS, so maybe that made a difference.

"I'm sick of tolerant, accepting Christians whispering to me that "we're not all like [anti-gay fundamentalists]." If you want to change the growing perception that "good Christian" means "anti-gay"—a perception that is leading many people to stop identifying themselves as Christian because they don't want to be lumped in with the haters—stop whispering to me and start screaming at them."

What about the mainline protestant churches which have openly gay pastors serving - this includes my denomination. I wouldn't call this whispering!

"Self serving lie"

I absolutely disagree with this statement. People do wrong things, make mistakes, but we still love them. My brother used to be a drug addict, I disapproved and "hated" what he did, but I still loved him with all my heart. The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is immoral behavior. It's a sin like anything else explicitly stated throughout the bible, such lying, adultery, stealing, etc.

I'm not going to debate whether homosexuality is a biological choice, or even if they can go through spiritual procedures to rewire their homosexuality. Why would God "let" someone become homosexual, or even have other "abnormalities" is beyond my understanding and something I cannot answer. But that is irrelevant, as there is still a choice in engaging or not engaging in sinful action.

The point of the matter is no one can alter the word of God to fit their own personal agenda. There is far right wing Christians, who may misinterpret biblical texture and manufacture hate (as Dan Savage described) and at the opposite end of the spectrum there is the new age reformists who manipulate the scripture and put God's true command in the backseat possibly in attempt to offend less people. I am bigoted, but I SHOULD be, because I truly believe in God and his word; love.

Homosexuality is also declared sinful in the new testament, such as Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9.

I don't think *I* or other Christians would (or should) be the ones judging them. Homosexuals are always welcome in our church, but when it comes to judgment day, it's God who writes the rules (and provides them in the bible) and ultimately up to him to decide.

I guess I'm having second thoughts. I've been ignorant about the old testament all this time.

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