In a recent blog post, I wrote I was done defending myself as a gay man. I said that isn't what my blog is about anymore, and it's not what I want to spend my limited writing time working on when I have the opportunity to add something new and constructive.
Then this happened:
Last Saturday evening, our next door neighbors came over for a little Christmas holiday cheer and home-made pumpkin cheesecake. I had the opportunity to ask the seventeen-year-old daughter, Lindsay, what the response was in the high school she attends when the half dozen or so young people in the United States committed suicide during the early part of the school year. (For those unfamiliar with this story, the young people in question were bullied either because they were gay, or because they were assumed to be gay, deciding the only way to end the pain was to kill themselves.) Specifically, I wanted Lindsay to talk about if these tragic and senseless deaths registered in the high school she attends, several thousand miles north, in a community that could be described as red neck and a little rough on anyone who's different.
Remarkably, the deaths were acknowledged, and, on a specific day, students were asked to wear something purple to show their support.
Lindsay related the story of a young man her age, in her graduating class, who wore something purple, but not because he supports gay people or feels strongly about young gay people who are bullied. Apparently, this fellow is a devout Christian, whose goal is to become a church minister when he graduates next June. To this end, he carries a portable Bible around with him, and he uses every opportunity he has in a secular public school to communicate his version of God's truth. Lindsay said this young man had made clear in conversations with his peers that being gay is unacceptable and, in fact, a choice people consciously make.
That got me thinking. I wrote something recently about the issue of people choosing to be gay, but maybe I hadn't explored the subject as thoroughly as I could have. So here are a few other things I came up with, for those of you who still think being gay is a choice:
1. Why would I choose to be gay? Why would anyone choose potentially to turn family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, society, the church, the world, God, against him by actively choosing to be gay? Who in his right mind would do that?
2. What would I gain by choosing to be gay? If sexual orientation truly were a choice, how would anyone benefit from choosing to be gay over choosing to be what most everyone else is (that is, straight)?
3. Finally, if I had the choice to be gay or straight, then presumably you, a straight person, had the same choice, too. At some point, you must have consciously realized your sexual orientation could go one way or the other, right? So why did you choose to be straight when you could just as easily have chosen to be gay? And why did I choose to be gay when you didn't? What's different between me and you that led to our individual choices?
Just a few questions to ponder.
What's so disheartening to me is the young man in Lindsay's school, purporting to believe in, to live, and to teach God's word. Trying to influence his peers to believe the same things he does about homosexuality. He's seventeen, has virtually no life experience, and has probably never known anyone who is gay--spoken to him or gotten to know him as a human being. Yet, he presumes to know people make the choice to be gay, and he's already passed judgment on them as a result, wholeheartedly condemning them because they didn't make the right choice, according to him or to his understanding of God's word.
I don't consider this blog post as much about defending myself as a gay man as highlighting how misguided some people are, even young people, because of what they were raised to believe, and how they've done themselves a disservice by accepting the notions of others without opening themselves to what they could learn from their own experiences.
Despite this, I believe the upcoming generation offers more hope than ever--that we can and should count on a greater degree of understanding and acceptance from our young people, because they live in a very different world from the one I grew up in--who are more familiar with gay people, who may even have gay friends, and who are more open to diversity between human beings.
One misguided young man, manipulating God's word to judge other people and make himself look better or right, doesn't concern me. Lindsay didn't buy what he had to say, and, for that matter, neither did her parents. In general, people are savvy to what's been done in the name of God, and they are fed up with how the world's been negatively affected by religions and zealots since the beginning of mankind.
We have every reason to believe circumstances will continue to improve for gays and lesbians, just as they have over the past two or three decades, and, fortunately, people like this young man will end up preaching to fewer and fewer followers, which is as it should be.