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Yes, Your Child May Be Gay

I should know better by now than to read the Internet. Like, ever. Yesterday was a veritable feast of anger-making poo. (Using the word “feast” loosely here; I don’t advise dining on poo.) Let me recap: We had George Will’s stunningly awful rape denial/apologism; the Southern Baptist Convention’s advice on shaming and shunning trans people; and Russel Moore’s jaw-dropping take on how to handle your child coming out to you.

It was not a good day for news and opinion.

Honestly, neither George Will nor the SBC surprised me in the least. I suppose that should say something about both of them. Their beliefs are things I heard regularly in church, so maybe that’s why I’m not shocked. I was more surprised to leave Christian culture and find out that there are people out there who don’t believe those things. I don’t have more to say on either topic at the moment. I need a few days to process.

Instead, I’m concentrating on the sentence in Russell Moore’s piece that stood out to me more than anything else I read yesterday. With regard to a child coming out to a parent he says:

He or she could be saying that this is an identity, from which they refuse to repent.

What. the. hell.

There are two parts to this. First, and let me make this as clear as I can, a person cannot—and should not—repent of his or her identity. Who we are at the center of our being is not up for debate, discussion, or apology. Regardless of whether the child in question intends to live openly or remain celibate (and that has to be their choice), it doesn’t change who they are. This is just another piece of the very foolish belief that we need to entirely empty ourselves of, well, ourselves in order to be “filled with” Jesus/the Holy Spirit/whatever. The end result of such a view is nothing but confusion and turmoil.

Second, there is something implicit in the “refusal to repent” that the parents have a responsibility to force this change. Moore rightly states that parents are not to blame for a child who is gay. But I lived with the persistent belief that it was my responsibility to badger my gay friends and family to turn to Jesus, repent, and no longer live a “sinful lifestyle.” I’ve seen other friends over the years encouraged to shoulder the same burden.

Allow me to offer this piece of advice: If someone—anyone—comes out to you, it is not your job to do anything about it. It’s not necessary to keep talking until they feel convicted of their “sin.” You are not responsible for making them see the light. Your eternal soul is not at risk for not evangelizing hard enough.

Want to know what is your responsibility? Being a friend, a child, a parent, a sibling, a cousin. That’s all. As in, you don’t have to do anything at all.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a particularly nice person. When I hear people whispering about their gay family members and telling their children things like, “We don’t approve of Aunt Jane’s lifestyle” or shaming anyone who loves and supports their gay child, I want to bean those people on the head and shout at them. I want to say, “What are you people thinking?!” And then I want to distance myself from them as far as possible so they can’t have any influence on my kids.

Fortunately, there are people a lot nicer than I am who are willing to be there to help parents when their kids come out to them*. If you want to read a much kinder answer (and several others linked within it), take a look at Ben Moberg’s response. (For real, he’s much nicer than I am and far less sarcastic.) Of course, if you just want someone to give you a swift kick in the pants and tell you to butt out and let your kids be themselves, I’m always available.

As for me, I just hope my own kids know their dad and I are here for them, and they’re surrounded by bunches of people—including at church—who love and support them. And if their friends need help, we’re always here for that, too.

_________________________

*It would be great if we also had resources for kids whose parents come out to them. If anyone has anything to offer, feel free to link up in the comments (one link at a time, or it goes to spam; sorry). I think there’s probably some good stuff out there for siblings and friends, but more would be good. Same for spouses/partners, particularly when they are part of conservative religion. We tend to focus on the parent-child relationship (which is important because they are minors), but that’s not the only relationship that can become strained.

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“I Don’t Care”: Yes, It’s Anti-Gay

I’ve been struggling with how to express exactly why I despise two specific reactions to people coming out (or posting pictures of same-sex couples or sharing something about their same-sex relationship or talking about their identity or posting about issues of sex and gender). The first is “I don’t care! Why are you telling us this?” and the second is “Why do you even need an identity?” (A variant of the second one is “There are too many letters, LGBTQIAxzyzzzzzz…”)

Invariably, I have intense reactions to any of the above. Sometimes I just feel like raging; other times, I’ve ended up spending hours fighting tears. Interestingly, these are the same reactions I have to outright hateful statements as well as milder (but still terrible) reactions from Christians like “It’s not God’s best.” So instead of suppressing my feelings, I’m owning them and making one last ditch effort to explain why it’s not okay to dismiss people.

I’ll start with this. A friend shared Ann Rice’s Facebook status from May 28:

Let’s try to hold down the new anti-gay bigotry of the “I don’t care” crowd. If we post on a person with a gay parent, or a gay person coming out — and you really truly don’t care — then ignore the post. I post on many things every day. It’s easy enough for you to skip what doesn’t interest you. I’m not buying this new anti-gay “I don’t care” bigotry. Not a word of it. What you’re really questioning is that the rest of us care. Or that anyone cares. And that’s really your personal problem. Not ours.

In the comments, she adds:

Over and over the “I don’t care” bigots talk about sex and what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. When we post on gays, gays coming out, gay experience we are NOT talking about what people do in the privacy of their bedroom. We’re talking about gays in society, bias against gays, negative attitudes against gays and how individuals deal with this. If “you don’t care,” move on. We do care! Big time.

First of all, I’m with Ann Rice. I do care! I care about the people who may want to know that they are not alone. I care about the young people who are living in fear that their parents may kick them out or make their lives hell. I care about the kids who already have been rejected by their families. I care about the people who are proud of who they are and want to celebrate that. I care about the people who have spent years figuring things out and now want to share what they’ve discovered about themselves. Let me repeat: I care.

Second, every time a person comes out, it makes it that much easier for the next person and the next person and the one after that. Little by little, it makes us all safer. All you “I don’t care” folks may truly not be interested in anyone else’s life (ha; judging by all the other crap circulated on the Internet, I doubt that, but whatever). But that’s only because you don’t seem to get the very real danger there can be in being out.

Third, think about it this way. You, cis-het people, are, in effect, “coming out” every day too. You post pictures of yourself and your sweetheart. You hold hands in public. You kiss in the airport. You use the restroom assigned to your gender and allow yourself to be sorted that way. You get out of bed and put on the clothes that you like, without having to bind anything or add anything to your body. You live your life completely “out” as a cis-het person. No one questions you on it.

This is not the case for everyone. Coming out isn’t some simple arrangement of taking to social media to announce, “Surprise! I’m not cis-het!” to the universe. Every single time two men hold hands in public or two women kiss goodbye at the airport or a person has to explain in the hospital why their driver’s license doesn’t match their stated identity or correct a relative’s use of the wrong pronouns, they are coming out. Again and again and again.

Fourth, the “I don’t care crowd” has the advantage of not having to care. Great for you that you’re uninterested in someone else’s life, but please try to keep in mind that lots of other people do care, and not in a good way. I could link you up with news report after news report of people who have literally died because of how they identify. I could remind you that while it’s perfectly legal for straight couples to get married, not only is it still not legal in many states for gay couples to marry, it’s not even technically legal for them to have the sex you say you don’t want to know about.

How many more people have to die—by their own hands or at someone else’s—before you stop pretending not to care? How many more teenagers need to end up homeless? Is there a magic number? At what point will you stop posting about how you don’t want to see same-sex PDA (while being content to not comment at all on straight PDA or secretly watching “lesbian” porn)?

Finally, for many of us, the identity isn’t just about who we are. Speaking from personal experience here, sure, that’s part of it. But for me, I needed to know I’m not alone. Whenever I hear “Why do you need an identity?” or “I don’t really care” or “Why are you telling me this?” it makes me feel alone again. Shoved aside, as though some vital aspect of myself as a person is so unimportant that not only do people not comment on it, but they actively have to tell me they don’t care.

Say what you mean, people. You don’t really mean “I don’t care.” You mean “This makes me uncomfortable and I wish you wouldn’t talk about it.” Because if you truly didn’t care, you would leave it alone, the same way you ignore pictures of cats and witty sayings and news articles you don’t find relevant to you.

I’ll admit, I’m not that interested in celebrities coming out. My usual reaction is something like, “Oh, so-and-so is [LGBTQIA]? Ok, cool” followed by scrolling to something I’d really like to read about, such as my friends’ awesome vacations or their kids’ recitals or their promotions at work. But if a friend posts a coming out story? I’m all over it. And not just sexuality/gender coming out, either. I actually baked a cake for my sister that said, “Congratulations, it’s Aspergers” (reminiscent of Ellen’s coming out cake). I screwed it up with a few friends back in my semi-fundie days, and I never intend to do that again.

The people in my life are important to me, therefore the things that are important to them matter to me. If you can’t muster enough love for your friend who made themselves vulnerable—publicly—to at least say, “Hey, friend, I’m here for you if you need anything” or “Hey, friend, I love you and I support you,” then keep your damn mouth shut about it. Just scroll past and look for something else to comment on. And for the love of pete, please do not make a passive-aggressive “I don’t care” post for the world to see. Trust me, your friend who just came out knows it’s about them.

The “policing” of free hate speech

This article popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday because a friend shared it. Before you click the link, be forewarned it may be highly triggering due to the transphobic language. Yes, it’s bad enough to put it in bold, red letters. The summary alone includes quotes which are so offensive that even someone ignorant of trans* issues would recognize them as hateful. I’m not joking. Unless you have an extremely strong constitution, I recommend against listening to the broadcast, which is linked in the article. The extracted quotes are bad enough.

Rochester Radio Hosts Mock Transgender People in Disturbing, Offensive Segment

It speaks for itself. There’s no need for me to say anything about how horrible those comments were. Besides, anyone local to me who has ever heard Kimberly and Beck knows that they are Grade-A Jerks. That is what they do; they’re paid to be awful. I think this one is particularly bad, given the fact that they were responding to trans-friendly local legislation. It’s also frustrating given that I live in a city that, while conservative in some ways, is better than average regarding LGBTQ issues (though there’s always room for growth, of course). But I’m not writing today to call for their heads on a platter, or even their permanent firing.

When I posted this, the responses were interesting. (Side note: Anyone who thinks people under 21 aren’t articulate, intelligent people able to hold their own in a debate does not know my friends.) Naturally, one of the things that got invoked was “free speech.” Dear God, why is that the first thing that’s trotted out in response to assholes spouting off? I mean, I would think that the first response to the article might possibly be, oh, I dunno, “Wow. It sure is crappy that trans* people have to put up with hearing that shit on the radio. Maybe I’ll go check and see if my friend/family member/stranger I interact with on the Internet  is okay and didn’t have a massive anxiety attack triggered by that.”

Besides the obvious lack of compassion, the other thing I don’t understand is why anyone would bother trotting out “free speech” in the first place. My commentary on the article when I posted it to Facebook:

This carries a very heavy TW for incredibly offensive transphobic language and commentary. Read at your own risk. Also? SCREW THEM. I already don’t listen to them (they’re God-awful and annoying as it is). But this makes it a billion times worse. And now I’m telling everyone else to not listen to them.

I never once demanded they be fired or disallowed from broadcasting. I said I didn’t like them, and I said I was going to discourage other people from listening to them. They are entirely free to spout all the garbage they like, and the rest of us have the choice to change the station. Which is exactly what I suggested doing!

Aside from the fact that I never threatened their right to free speech in any way, why are they the ones given that card to play? Do I not have just as much right to the same free speech? Just as they are (technically) free to share their disgusting views with anyone fool enough to listen, I’m also free to tell the world they are ass-hats. I posted on my own Facebook page that I don’t like them. I’m posting it on my own blog. Why? Because they spewed trash and I didn’t like it, and I’m allowed to say so. It’s not a zero-sum game. My freedom to discourage people from tuning in does not curtail their right to broadcast their nonsense.

Even if I were demanding they be fired or sending out a petition for such action, guess what? Still my free speech. Yep. Just because I say it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and I’m absolutely allowed to say I think they should be dumped. And let’s not get into the fact that “free speech” is not the same as “consequence-free speech.” If  you violate the terms of your employment with your words, then you still get the ax, regardless of whether you had the “right” to say it in a Constitutional sense. (Also, please go educate yourselves on what is, in fact, meant by Constitutional freedom of speech.)

Whenever the “free speech!” argument comes out, I’d like to remind you all that it isn’t just bigoted radio DJs or Westboro Baptist protestors or Michele Bachmann who have the right to say whatever they want. Those of us who don’t like what they are offering also have the right to say so, loudly and often. We have the right to call them on their hate and encourage other people to stop listening to their shows, attending their churches, or voting for them.

Next time someone points to “free speech” as some kind of argument (for what, I’m not exactly sure), point out to them that you, too, have the same right.

Bridge to Nowhere

Last night, I was on Twitter discussing the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Summit.  Unsurprisingly, there is still a lot of ignorance in the Southern Baptist Convention about LGBTQ people and issues.  I won’t waste time quoting the worst of it; you can easily search for it if you’re that curious.

What I found interesting was the ensuing discussion about building bridges.  Just the term building bridges is often so loaded that it can be hard to have a conversation about it.  It’s been used to mean everything from asking LGBTQ Christians to make the first move to progressive Christians who won’t take a firm stand but want dialogue to liberal Christian allies sharing the burden for reconciliation.  There’s disagreement on all sides about whether any or all of those things are good.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been much of a bridge-builder.  I’m pretty fierce when it comes to standing with those I love.  When I was new to blogging about these things, I was in a much darker place than I am now.  I was immersed in a church culture that seemed intentionally unloving towards LGBTQ people while putting on a good face.  There was nothing in me that wanted to bring people together—I wanted them to change their minds!

To an extent, I still feel that way.  But now, I also believe it’s my responsibility to use my perceived privilege to reach out to people who might not be sure how to take that next step.  I’m still not convinced that “I don’t care if you’re gay, but you shouldn’t be in a relationship” is terribly loving.  In fact, I’m sure it’s not.  On the other hand, I don’t need to be hostile about it, either.  That’s the point at which I will do more good affirming people’s humanity than arguing my point.

With all of that said, there are some people who will never be able to have rational conversations about any kind of sexuality.  Their condescension, moral superiority complexes, and outright hate prevent any kind of dialogue.  It is impossible to claim, “But I love gay people!” while looking down your nose disapprovingly.  The sorts of people who would compare being gay to rape or who would deliver entire sermons outlining the finer points of gay sex for the shock value or whose gag reflexes are tripped by gay people are not the sort whose table I want to sit at.

I’m not the only one.  I enjoyed tweeting with Rachel Held Evans and Ben Moberg (as always; they are good people), and we had this exchange (it’s hard to read, so the text appears below):

TweetRachel Held Evans: And yet, in spite of all the misinformation etc. I sense a desire for grace from #erlcsummit. How do we build bridges? I really don’t know.

Ben Moberg: @rachelheldevans I’m unsure if we want a bridge going there.

Me: @Runaway_Writes @rachelheldevans I really kind of don’t. This is one case where THEY need to be the bridge-builders.

I’m in favor of working things out.  I may not agree with some of my more conservative fellow Christians, but there can be thoughtful conversations.  These people, though?  They need to make the first move.  It can’t always be us, LGBTQ people and allies.  And it absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, be them reaching out their hands beckoning us to join them.  We’ve done that for far too long.  If they want peace and reconciliation, it’s going to be on our terms, on our side of the divide.  They need to ask for a seat at our table.

These men (let’s be honest; even the women who agree with them have very little authority here) have acknowledged that they’ve lost the culture war.  Now they’re going after other Christians who disagree with them, and most of us just aren’t buying it anymore.  Ultimately, unless they decide to take those steps, they are going to find themselves alone on their island of hate, shouting to no one.  It’s up to them to decide if that’s what they really want.  If it isn’t, the rest of us reasonable people will be over here living our lives, ready to welcome them home if they choose to cross the sea.

Whole

I swore I wasn’t going to do this on my blog.  I told at least three people I wouldn’t, in fact.  And yet, here I am, finding that sometimes, when we speak publicly about things, then we are obligated to be honest about our own lives.  With that cryptic opening, I’m taking a deep breath and plunging in.

In the last six months, a lot of things happened that I won’t get into now but which sent me into a sort of blogging burn-out limbo.  Terrified of saying the wrong thing in the wrong way, I stopped posting much.  It wasn’t all bad; I focused on finishing a novel and starting another one, along with several beta-reading projects and some good, old-fashioned pleasure reading.  I hoped that my time away would be healing.

It wasn’t.

I was still occasionally experiencing mild panic attacks, bouts of having to hold back tears, and general anxiety, particularly related to the various messes on social media and among my fellow bloggers.  I had retreated so far into myself that I buried my feelings, which then leaked out in incredibly unhealthy ways.

Then, over the last several weeks, three things happened.  First, a friend contacted me and asked if I was all right.  At the time, I was cleaning up the final draft of my manuscript, so I was feeling pretty good.  I said I was okay, dismissed the offer to chat casually, and went on with my life.  I was honestly puzzled, as I had no real idea that my online bloggy drama was bleeding over into other places.  After all, I’d already cut myself away from the community that was eating me alive, and I figured my emotional state was just residual from that.

About four weeks ago, this article happened.  I blogged about it, in fact.  But just reading it triggered an entire day (I’m not exaggerating in the slightest) of on-and-off feeling overwhelmed, miserable, and teary.  Being Saturday, I lit my candles, said the rosary, and then collapsed into sobbing.  Even then, I had no idea why I was crying, only that I could identify the feeling as grief and loss, rather than some other emotion.

I tried to piece it together, and it wasn’t until about two weeks later that it all came together.  (In a future post, I’ll explain; this one is too long already.)  First, I talked to my husband.  Then my sister and two friends.  I decided I didn’t really have anything to hide, so I was just going to more or less do the live-and-let-live thing.  Mostly, I had myself convinced that, as I usually do, that I and my feelings are comparatively unimportant.

And then I read this. (You really should read it too; it’s important.)  And said to myself, Oh, shit.  No, actually, I did.  I felt like Janet Edwards was speaking to me.  She called me out on not acknowledging my whole self.  And oh, dear God, that hurt, mostly because I knew she was right.  Three things particularly struck me:

I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man.

and

I cannot love God with my whole heart when I am keeping a central aspect of my self—my soul and body—hidden from both myself and from others.

and

Because I am so solidly protected by being in a marriage with a man, this very protection compels me to speak up for those whose voices have long been silenced and whose sense of self or livelihood is still regularly threatened by the church.

I relate to—and agree with—all of that.  Which is to say, like Dr. Edwards, I am a bisexual woman married to a man, living with all the privileges and responsibilities granted to me as such.  If I’m to keep blogging, keep tweeting, and even keep writing novels, there is no way to do that without telling people who I am.

Because I am so solidly protected by being in a marriage with a man, this very protection compels me to speak up for those whose voices have long been silenced and whose sense of self or livelihood is still regularly threatened by the church – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf

There’s been a lot to process, and I do want to share that journey with you, if you’re willing to read it.  But first and foremost, a big part of me feels like I owe some people an apology.  I am honestly, deeply sorry if my own failure to acknowledge who I am has been hurtful.  Please understand that it’s not because I’ve ever judged anyone else unworthy but because of my own twisted belief that things are okay for everyone else but me.  (It would take a novel to explain how I ended up in that place.)  I have not been lying or pretending or even hiding; I simply refused to see what was right there in front of me.

Please also know that by owning my identity, I am not seeking some kind of authority.  I hold no claims on speaking for an entire and vastly diverse community of people.  I’m not even speaking on behalf of the comparatively small minority of long-time married, liberal Christian women who come to terms with their sexuality twenty years after their adolescence.  I speak for no one but myself.  I do, however, both acknowledge the privilege I’m afforded and stand in solidarity with other LGBTQ people.

I’m sure many of you will have questions for me, and I’m happy to answer them.  I’m equally sure I will lose friends over this.  That makes me a little sad, but I also understand why.  If it would be a point of contention between us, I’d rather we part respectfully than that we waste time talking past each other.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.  I would love to talk with you all more, and if you put any questions you have for me in the comments, I will do my best to answer them.  When I’m able, I’ll share my journey with you.  Being able to embrace my whole self is a process, and not an easy one at that.  But my hope is that in being fully honest, I can return to writing as a better person than when I stepped away.

Much love to you all, and I hope to hear from you.

I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf
I identify as bisexual because I know I am able to love people of my own gender and of a gender different from me. I’m not straight, but I can pass as straight because I am married to a man. – See more at: http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/confession-bisexual-granted-straight-privilege#sthash.PvbY15QZ.dpuf

Human Nature

It’s Saturday, and I should be finishing up some work and getting ready to take my daughter to dance class.  Instead, I’m writing a blog post because sometimes, things strike me so hard and so fast that I can’t process anything else until I get my words out.

When I woke up this morning, I was scrolling through my social media accounts and I read this piece by Jonathan Merritt.  Now, he’s a person that I respect very much as a writer.  I don’t always agree, but generally, I think he’s got good stuff to say.  The Christianity Today piece, though—that just felt like being stabbed.

My gut reaction was to be upset that it sounded like the same old, same old with regard to “Let’s figure out why people are gay.”  The piece certainly set off another round of arguing about the topic, judging by the reactions.  I had to take some time to process it because I truly don’t want to waste my time blasting one person for writing about his own journey.  It turned out that I was much, much more upset about the reactions to the article than the article itself, though that wasn’t without its problems.

I doubt very seriously that Jonathan Merritt is reading this.  I’m kind of a small-potatoes blogger.  But if he happens to see it, here’s my message to him:

I don’t blame you in the slightest for the things you said that came across as hurtful and dismissive.  It’s your story, and you have the right to tell it as you see fit.  I blame conservative Christianity for creating an environment in which people don’t handle abuse well and where people are taught that their sexuality is sinful.  I blame conservative Christianity for trying to find explanations for something they don’t like in order to “treat” it and pray it away.  How terrible that it sounded like you’ve internalized and repeated such a damaging message.  I hope that over time, you will internalize instead the message that you are worthy and your feelings are good and that whoever you are or choose to be is just exactly that—who you choose to be.  I hope that you will be able to live and love without regret or shame and that you will give yourself time and space to explore that without the heavy baggage of religious pressure.

The specific thing that troubled me, both in the article and the comments, was the implication that child sexual abuse is a possible cause for later sexual orientation.  This is a construct perpetuated by conservative Christianity, particularly of the evangelical stripe.  It gets trotted out a lot, despite the fact that it’s illogical and there has never been even a shred of evidence that it’s true.

I am of the firm belief that sexuality is (or at least can be) fluid and that it’s not any better to argue a “born that way” stance either.  But it is really, really awful on so many levels to continue to promote the lie that abuse leads to attraction.  I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t find that utterly disturbing.

What if we were to turn that around?  What if we were to suggest that the reason people “turn straight” is because they were molested by an opposite-sex offender?  That sounds horrifying, no?  It has a tone of creepiness which suggests three very bad things:

  1. That we are drawn to our romantic and sexual attractions as a way to reenact upsetting and frightening childhood experiences
  2. That offenders are not pedophiles but are including children as part of their overall sexual orientation (another tired assumption: gay men are child abusers)
  3. Abuse is a form of sexuality

I can tell you firmly as a survivor of sexualized bullying that I have no wish to find people who will do the same things to me.  I’m not interested in men because I think I deserve to be treated that way or because I’m confused or because I need reassurance or because of some other reason related to my unfortunate childhood experiences.  I cannot fathom why we wouldn’t see everyone’s sexuality the same way.  Of course it’s complex.  But why do we only ever question the cause of someone’s sexuality when that person is gay?  Why are gay, lesbian, and bisexual people the only ones who have to have a reason for their romantic and/or sexual attractions?

We simply have not achieved a state where we see variance in sexual orientation, preference, attraction, and expression as normal.  We’re still seeking causality because we can’t see the whole spectrum as healthy and good.  And that troubles me, because I believe that it is good—all of it.  The whole wide range of human love and sex is so vast and so beautiful and so amazing, an incredible gift we’ve been given.  How is it that we are still trying to scientifically or spiritually defend what should just be considered part of the human kaleidoscope?

Until we are all convinced that our sexuality (let’s face it, even we straight people now and again have to defend our natural desires in the face of conservativism) is truly good—not merely acceptable—we will continue to peddle half-truths and outright lies about the causes.  And until we stop selling falsehoods, people will continue to believe that they are broken rather than being fully, wonderfully human.

Dear straight conservative Christians: I’m sorry I offended your “biblical worldview”

Actually, no, I’m not.

Yesterday, I posted about World Vision and their change in policy to allow married gay couples as employees. Obviously, I spoke too soon. They’ve hit rewind on their decision. I would like to pretend I’m surprised, but I’m not. Pressure from conservative Christians is swift and powerful. (I will not blame this on “evangelicals,” though conservative evangelicals do seem to be at the forefront here.)

I am angry. Yes, partly I’m angry at the hateful bigots who put pressure on World Vision to change their minds.  I’m angry with World Vision for not having the backbone to see it through the backlash or the foresight to put protective measures in place. But you know what makes me angriest?  World Vision’s apology to straight people.

You read that right.  It’s telling that the apology wasn’t to the 2000 children who lost their sponsors yesterday or to the gay people who lost their job opportunities today. No, it was to the conservative Christians who went after World Vision over their policy:

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, World Vision. You are “brokenhearted” that your friends were upset? Well, gee. I guess that must be hard. Much harder, of course, than applying for a job and then finding out that your legal marriage disqualifies you. Much harder than the fact that your stupid flip-flopping has led arguing of a strand that calls into question the very humanity of the people you just yesterday promised to affirm.

That must suck.

Well, I’m not sorry for offending any conservative Christians—not even a little bit. Come at me, folks. I’ll be happy to have you tell me I’m spreading a “false gospel” or that my eternal soul is in danger of the fire of hell. Remind me again that I’m leading my brothers and sisters (and people who identify as neither, both, or something else) astray. Tell me how I’m corrupting my children and causing someone else to “stumble” in sin.

Because I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to stop challenging the conservative belief that there is something fundamentally flawed about people based on their sexual or gender identity, and I’m not going to stop affirming every single person’s humanity, intrinsic worth, and right to live however and love whomever they choose.

Lest anyone think that there’s no cost in taking a firm, unapologetic stand, let me assure you there is. But whatever minor inconvenience, and whatever difficulties I’ve faced, that’s been nothing compared to what the people I cherish have endured. World Vision could easily have withstood the criticism and the loss of support, but they chose not to try even for a whole day.

Apologies to the conservatives who had a little of their assumed privilege curtailed for a few hours? No. My apology goes to the people who were harmed by World Vision’s indecision and by the fighting that resulted.

I’m sorry this is hurting you.

I’m glad you are part of my life and my church and my faith.

I love you.

Kyrie eleison–Lord have mercy.