I am a gay atheist. And I want to write this letter to all people who disapprove of homosexuality on moral grounds, but most of all I want to make this a sincere letter from the heart, but absent the anger and disgust I admittedly feel every day for those who torment us.
I get it: You disapprove of us. You consider us to be making a choice, you disagree with what you consider to be our “lifestyles”. Some of you may listen and heed the words of people like Tony Perkins, others may be more in tune with the ideas of people like Scott Lively, who consider gay males like me to be akin to Nazis.
First of all, I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth than to call me or most any person like me a Nazi. I don’t want to change by force of any kind, persecute, or brainwash people who disagree with me on any political topic, even homosexuality. Moreover, I don’t know any gay man who does. Most of us know about the history of gay people being put to death in concentration camps by the Nazi regime, I don’t know any gay person, let alone, any gay man, who looks on the likes of Hitler or anyone who advocates the mindset of a Nazi with anything but disgust and horror.
We can go over and over the sad old tropes. But I want this message to be different. I want to reach out to you, specifically, over the number of LGBT young people who commit suicide every day in this country because people disapprove of them.
It is your right to disapprove of homosexuality. And, I want to let you know, I get it. We may disagree, but I understand you consider it to be abnormal, and although I don’t understand the underpinnings of the idea because to me natural is what exists in the natural world, you may consider homosexuality and especially gender variance to be “unnatural”.
We have many disagreements, obviously. I think disapproving of homosexuality to be akin to disapproving of rain or sunshine. It is what it is. Homosexuality and gender variance among humans has existed since the beginning of humanity; it will always exist. In some cultures and at some times in history, these variances have even been celebrated in some cultures for thousands of years.
“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Murder has always existed, as well, but we are moral beings and we sanction and punish murder in our societies. Why would homosexuality be any different?”
This is true. If we are moral, then we not only disapprove of murder, but we do anything we can to prevent a murderer from murdering again. And this in Christian morality can be rested partly on the basis of “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. Someone who murders another human being is taking away a precious thing, a life that can never be restored. It is judgement in action: the ultimate punishment for that which the murderer has no right to punish. (Obviously, there are many other moral bases for sanctioning murder, but the important thing is, we stop a murderer to prevent him or her from killing again, taking away that which is most precious, and what you might consider only God’s right to do).
So we put murderers in prison. Though I disagree with the idea of taking a life for a life, we sometimes even execute murderers. But, fundamentally, there is a reason - to prevent the murderer from taking another life.
What I want to talk about, though, is sanctioning homosexuality using the societal mechanisms of societal disapproval, but to even go farther from that -- to change our laws not only to register disapproval, but to punish. And I wonder why, among Christian or supposedly moral anti-homosexuality crusaders, why you feel this must be so?
And, I feel, perhaps you feel we have not received the message, that you disapprove. But I assure you, I have. I feel your disapproval every day of my life. I have suffered, I have not had the life I might have had, partially due to people disapproving of my homosexuality.
But to sanction and punish people because of your disapproval of homosexuality? For one thing, I ask, do you think it does any good? Do you think putting homosexuals in prison will stop homosexuality?
Sexuality is one of the most primal basic parts of us. While you may think of us as perverted, or that our homosexuality is depraved, or that we make a choice, you are not going to stop a homosexual person from exercising his or her sexuality even with prison or death. The only possible thing you might accomplish is to harm and terrorize homosexuals. And I want to ask, is this Christian? Is it moral? And, would it even be possible? If you could somehow find and either eliminate every homosexual on the planet, or somehow convert them to heterosexuality, do you truly think homosexuality would go away? No, such an attempt, no matter how effective, would be doomed to fail, because you see, homosexuality arises within us. People do not get converted, they are homosexual, whatever you might think.
And, to persecute homosexuals, is it a faithful observation of the most basic commandment of Christianity which is to love your neighbor as yourself? To do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
What I would most like you as a Christian conservative or one who disapproves of homosexuality, though, to do, is consider the cost: especially with young people who might either be considered homosexual by their peers, wrongly, or a young person who actually is gay?
We have now had in the news, even though we in the LGBT community know it happens much more often than is present in the news, the same story, over and over again: the young person who is considered homosexual is subjected to a level of hatred and sanction that is so extreme that such a person literally commits suicide. We know, in the LGBT community, that this is not an isolated event. That many of our young people are dying. Dying based partly on your disapproval and the message taken from bullies from that message.
Perhaps you feel that society simply doesn’t accept your message; that, in order to get it across you have to push and push harder and harder. But, please, do not close your eyes to THESE costs. Do not avert your eyes from THESE deaths. According to your religion, “And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"”
I beg of you: do not let your disapproval of us be taken to such extremes as to allow more of this. Open your eyes and stop refusing to see.