Happy Thanksgiving and National Coming Out Day!

Happy Thanksgiving and National Coming Out Day!

  
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! 

I’m thankful for many things, but today I’m especially thankful for National Coming Out Day, which is also today. 

Coming out as LGBTQ, as an atheist, and/or as anything else seemed especially controversial within our circles is not easy. Many of us have lost friends and the respect of people we care about because of our openness and honesty, or worse. But hiding who we are to make others happier or more comfortable isn’t healthy, nor is it fair for people to ask it of us. 

We need to support people when they come out. Not supporting them means we are being silent and absent when they need us the most. 

Coming out takes a lot of courage and often they are rewarded with negativity and bullying, abuse and assault, or being disowned. Many have tragically been murdered after coming out. LGBTQ youth and adults make up a huge portion of the homeless population because in the U.S. it’s so common for them to be thrown out of their homes, or for them to be discriminated against in the housing and job markets. More than half of transgender people have faced attempted or successful physical violence just because of who they are. 

This is no joke; being LGBTQ, especially in the U.S., greatly increases a person’s chances of being treated violently and cruelly. And even if they don’t face violence, they face rampant discrimination and social injustices. Marriage equality has only addressed part of the problem. 

Let’s be supportive allies, friends, and loved ones. Let’s stop judging and assuming and open our hearts to people who are different than us. We need to see them as human beings, not enemy combatants in a culture war of our own making! Let our compassion lead our attitudes and actions, whether that compassion stems from religion or spirituality, humanism or feminism, or whatever. Love and acceptance is what’s important, not creeds or dogmas or labels or political affiliations. 

And above all we need to listen. We need to hear their real stories, not the ones we create in our heads for them as though we know their journey better than they do. 

Although my coming out experiences have been far from pleasant, I wouldn’t change it because being openly myself is far better than hiding to please others. I am me- you are you. We can live in peace if we try. 💕 

Are you taking the side of the oppressor without realizing it?

Many anti-gay Christians think they’re being kind and loving to LGBTQ people because they’re not physically beating them up or calling them fags like Westboro does. But social oppression is about much more than just physically oppressing us or calling us a few specific names- and you’re probably contributing to our oppression even while praising yourself for being so “tolerant”. Here are a few things to consider.

When you stand by while others are oppressed and demeaned and bullied, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. They think that no one will stand up to them, that other people in their faith accept their treatment of us, and it tells us that we’re not worth defending. Multiple times I’ve been bullied by believers, and my “friends” would defend the bully instead of me just because the bully shares their beliefs and I don’t. But hurtful behavior is hurtful regardless of the beliefs behind it.

When you tell the oppressed that their struggles “aren’t that bad”, that they “shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it”, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. You’re also telling the oppressed that our stories and pain aren’t believable or important to you. Instead of listening to us, you are telling us how bad our pain is even though you have no first hand knowledge of it- and when we tell you that you’re incorrect, you get defensive. Bottom line: We’re telling you about our pain and you won’t believe us. That’s what an oppressive society does: It pretends that the pain they cause minority groups doesn’t exist so the oppressors never have to change. 

When we point out that you’re one of the people causing us pain through your actions or attitudes or words you use to describe us, and you get defensive and call us “bullies” or “too sensitive”, you’re taking the side of the oppressors. We all make mistakes- are you compassionate and humble enough to admit when you’ve made mistakes? Can you learn from them and refrain from causing us more pain in the future? Just because you’re not calling us “fags” doesn’t mean you’re not using words and phrases that demean and belittle us. Not sure what those are? Ask us! Or look it up! Many of us write blogs about this issue all the time.

When you tell us that our oppression is acceptable or even necessary because you believe we are “sinning”, you are taking one of the most oppressive stands of all. You’re telling us that it’s ok for us to suffer because of your religion, even if we did not consent to live by the rules of your religion. Our freedom of choice does not matter to you. Our right to live in peace and without persecution does not matter to you. Our right to follow our OWN beliefs does not matter to you.

Yes-I-am-a-Christian-I-believe-the-bible

Memes like the one to the left are supposed to sound loving and non-oppressive because they say they love us and won’t let anyone bully us. But it’s all very shallow.

“Name calling” and “stereotyping” is what we’re usually accused of when we point out that you’re still causing us immense pain and social oppression- we’re essentially called bullies for calling you out on how you’re treating a marginalized, mistreated minority. We can’t say anything about the negative way you treat us without being accused of having bad attitudes or being mean- even though your camp has been putting us down and restricting our rights for generations.

You say you’re not judging us, and yet in this meme you are:

Demeaning and belittling our loving unions by calling it “homosexual marriage”. Why the quotes? It’s clear that you don’t even accept this as a real thing, even though it’s very real and important to us and it’s now 100% legal. Your disgust and refusal to accept our relationships is crystal clear, and it’s not remotely loving. How would your black friends feel if you posted this meme with the words “interracial marriage” instead of “homosexual marriage”? Would they feel loved and accepted by you? Probably not.

Also, our sexual orientations are not up for debate in whether or not you support it- it’s a core part of who we are, just as yours is. Do I support your sexual orientation? I don’t demean it, I respect your right to live it even if I’m not straight myself, I don’t support laws that would restrict your right to live out your sexual orientation, so yes I do support it. So why won’t you do the same for me? You can support my basic human rights even if you think it’s sinful, just as you do with divorce and many other things that the Bible condemns but we allow in society. Supporting me as a non-heterosexual person doesn’t mean you’re condoning sin, it just means you acknowledge that not everyone is the same as you and that’s ok. 

You still won’t support our right to choose for ourselves or to be ourselves. You don’t have to agree with someone to support them and their choices. I don’t agree with your religion, but I support you as a person and I’ll always support your right to go to church even if I hate what they’re preaching. And I certainly wouldn’t imply that your religion isn’t real or valid just because I strongly disagree with it. You won’t support me as a non-hetereosexual person at ALL, even when my basic human rights are being denied and it’s causing me pain- but I’d better support you, or I’ll get accused of stereotyping and name calling and attacking your religious right to persecute me.

Do not diminish our struggles. Don’t patronize us and tell us that this is just about us “having different opinions” because it’s not. You are treating us like second class citizens, and then getting upset when we tell you that it isn’t enough- that being second class people is not ok with us. We’re ALL equal, we ALL deserve legal and social equality. And when you treat us like second class citizens and then call yourself our friends or say you love us- well, don’t be surprised if we don’t believe you, or when we get upset at the hypocrisy. With friends like these, who needs enemies, right? If our friends and loved ones won’t even support our right to be treated equally and fairly, socially and legally, what do you think we deal with from our enemies? Let that sink in for a moment.

And this is what we deal with. Every. Single. Day. And you wonder why some of us have short fuses. We have these very unloving friends that we must either put up with and try to coexist with even as they contribute to our social and legal oppression, or we remove them from our lives and get accused of being intolerant of someone else’s beliefs because we can’t stand seeing them claim to love us even as they hurt us over and over again. We can’t win!

Fallacies in the Anti-Gay Argument

I’ve heard a LOT of interesting and insulting arguments against homosexuality… here are a few of the main ones and my rebuttals.

“If everyone was gay, humans would go extinct.”

But everyone ISN’T gay, and never will be. Only 5-10% of humans are born with that a homosexual orientation. And it’s not “catching”, so saying it’s ok doesn’t mean everyone will suddenly become gay. This is a very unrealistic argument that is not based on facts, and it’s a common scare tactic used to promote anti-gay sentiments. Every couple in the world having 10 kids could also result in extinction when we exhaust our resources too quickly; but of course that scenario is ridiculous, right?

This also completely ignores the fact that we now have technology to compensate for this. We have surrogates and medical procedures that allow gay couples to procreate. This also doesn’t account for bi-sexual people.

“Sex is about procreation. Since gay couples can’t make babies, their sex isn’t ok.”

I don’t know about you, but when I’m having sex, babies are the last thing on my mind. 😉 Many people can’t have children or don’t want them, many people use birth control to stop this unwanted aspect of sex. Fortunately, sex is about more than procreation: it’s also about intimacy and pleasure. Reducing the act of sex to merely procreation greatly diminishes its beauty and multifaceted purpose. It is also greatly offensive to infertile or elderly couples who cannot procreate.

Gay people can make babies if they really want to. We have technology and surrogates that make this possible. Also, they adopt LOTS of children that straight couples can’t or won’t take care of, which solves a massive problem in our world today.

Sex for the purpose of pleasure, and pleasure alone, is completely normal and beautiful. I love sex! And that’s ok! We’re human beings with hard-wired sexual desires. Religious groups have always tried to relegate and shame human sexual desires and make them seem bad. As long as it involves consenting adults, there is nothing wrong with sex in whatever form people choose to enjoy it. Saying this is wrong is personal opinion, and legislation should not be based on personal opinion.

“Don’t change traditional marriage!”

Traditional marriage has already undergone many changes. Interracial couples can marry, a husband can no longer legally rape his wife, divorce is legal, women are not treated like property, marriages are based on love and are not arranged, etc. “Traditional marriage”, as we know it today, was fought for by activists who wanted equality; it’s not how things worked for most of history. It’s not really that traditional at all, actually. Now we’re seeing that another group needs to be included in our modified, improved idea of marriage. What’s the problem here?

“Marriage is a religious institution.”

A wedding ceremony CAN be religious. A legal marriage is not. You can get married in your backyard by a justice of the peace, or on a boat by the captain. Atheists get married every day, with nothing religious included in their ceremonies. Marriage provides legal protections and rights from the government- churches do not control or provide these things. Marriage CAN be a religious event if the couple wants it to be, but it doesn’t have to be. Religious wedding ceremonies are separate from the legal marriage.

“It’s not natural.”

What defines “natural” for you? What does that even mean? Many animals enjoy gay sex, so it’s not strange to nature. If you define natural as something that nature naturally does on its own, then you’d have to say that cars, pollution-causing power plants, and most of our other technological advances are unnatural.

But of course your gas-guzzling Hummer is natural, but being gay is not. Makes perfect sense. (face palm)

Just because something is natural doesn’t automatically mean it’s good. The “strong dominating the weak” is found all the time in nature, and so are many other unsavory things that we wouldn’t want to copy. And the reverse is also true: just because you may see something as unnatural doesn’t mean it’s bad. I personally think homosexuality is completely natural- but even if it wasn’t, that isn’t exactly a good argument. The “natural” argument makes no sense and is very hypocritical, in my opinion.

“Gay people are pushing their sexual orientation on me.” Or, “Gay people are bullying us.”

Asking for the same rights you’ve always enjoyed is not bullying. By that same logic, black people were bullying white people into giving them freedom and stopping racism. Asking for equality is not asking you to be gay, nor is it persecution for you to be asked to give someone else the same freedoms you have. No one is asking for a law that changes marriage to only include gay relationships- they’re simply asking to be included in it.

If anyone is doing the bullying, it’s straight people. For years gay people have been told that their desires and relationships are disgusting, unnatural, sinful, and that they do not deserve respect or equal rights. They’ve been disowned by their families, verbally harassed, and even beaten up by strangers. Some have been killed even here in North America. Employers can fire someone simply for being gay.

So when gay people finally stand up for themselves and say “That’s not fair, I deserve the same rights as you! And I’m tired of being harassed and oppressed!” Their oppressors have the AUDACITY to say that THEY are being bullied and oppressed! Forgive my language, but that’s pretty fucked up.

“The Bible says it’s a sin.” Or, “It’s just gross!”

No matter how much people deny it, most of the time these are the real issues. The other arguments are just a badly erected smokescreen for their fear, prejudice, or lack of understanding of their fellow humans. Personal beliefs or dislike is not a reasonable cause for denying someone equal rights, otherwise racism would have been justified.

Also, if you’re picturing gay people having sex and that grosses you out, that’s normal. Unless you’re fantasizing about people who turn you on, picturing people having sex can be very gross- gay or straight. If you’re not gay, picturing gay sex can feel just as gross as a gay person imagining straight sex. Maybe you can understand how they feel a little now.

There is a lot of debate on whether homosexuality is actually a sin according to the Bible. When I was a Christian this was a huge deal for me, and this video helped a lot. It doesn’t matter to me now because I’m an atheist, but for any Christians reading this I highly recommended it. It’s very respectfully presented by a knowledgeable person in a church setting.

Thanks for reading my vent. 🙂

-Lilly