First of all, for the record, the official arms of the Religious Right have been unsurprisingly silent about the wave of gay teen suicides in the news. They know, on some level, that this is partially their fault. Their minds are small, so they have a hard time figuring out the connection, but they know that when we point at them as culprits for creating the climate that leads to kids killing themselves, that we’re not just making things up, and that they are a large part of the problem. If you see a response from any important wingnut, let us know, but I haven’t seen one yet.
But I wanted to highlight two very different Christian responses to the existence of gay teens, in light of what’s going on. Dan Savage highlighted them first, so let’s look at them. We’ll go with “bad” first, because I want to end all blog posts on a happy note today, so work with me, world.
As you all know, Dan has started a YouTube project called “It Gets Better,” where LGBT adults and allies simply talk to LGBT youth with that simple message: It gets better. So, of course, we have a creepy Christian with his own response. Dan sets it up:
[W]hen I listen to a grown man fantasize about a 15 year old boy being tormented in hell for all eternity, an infamous name pops to mind: John Wayne Gacy. And the resemblance in this case is striking.
Yeah, it IS striking. The man in the video at the link below is a predator, pure and simple. The video can’t be embedded [which is fine, because it keeps the creepy, disgusting man's face off my blog], but if you click here, you can watch a “Biblical response” to Dan Savage, called “It Gets Worse.” You will note that his YouTube video allows no comments, which is par for the course among wingnuts. He explains in the video that there is no debate, and as the man obviously looks like a paragon of education and excellence…
The good news is that, within gay teens’ lifetimes, men like that will be relegated to Ku Klux Klan status.
NOW A GOOD ONE!
Dan also points to a Christian writer named John Shore, who is having a very honest conversation at his blog about the gay teen suicide rate. This is a guy who writes in all kinds of ideological places, and he’s not condemning gay kids. Indeed, he even interviewed the head of the Trevor Project, Charles Robbins. In his own piece on the gay teen suicide rate, he had this to say:
I love being Christian; I am forever humbled by what Christ did for humankind on the cross; I understand and experience the Bible as divine and breathtakingly inspirational. I pray to God every morning. Contemplating the majesty and mercy of God is part of my everyday life.
So what? That has zero to do with the fact that gay teens are thirty percent more likely than straight teens to shoot themselves in the head, to let their blood flow out until they’re white, to hang themselves from their neck until they stop twitching. Nor has it anything to do with the fact that the vast majority of my brothers and sister in Christ passionately hold that living as a gay person is a contemptible disgrace to God, and a blatant, willful offense against everything that’s decent and honorable.
We can say we’re only trying to follow God. We can say that we personally would never do anything to hurt a gay person. We can say that we love the sinner, but hate their sin. We can say anything.
But let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays.
In his comments section, I thanked him for bringing this conversation to his audience. Often, people will shy away from topics because they’re too “controversial” or perhaps just too visceral. And we all have different voices. I, as an atheist, can say certain things on issues that perhaps Christians can’t or wouldn’t. Likewise, Christians can often speak to fellow Christians, in ways that I can’t. The most important thing is that we’re speaking out, to each other.
At the same time, it’s important to make sure we’re not wasting our breath. Being anti-gay is, in the year 2010, rapidly becoming, the view of growing numbers of Americans, the moral equivalent of racism. This is a good thing. There does come a time when, if there are homophobic people in our lives [I'm primarily speaking to our straight allies here], it may be time to cut them off. If a person is teachable, that’s one thing. [And we can often learn from them!] But if they are not, it may be time to start treating those homophobes as we would treat a virulently racist neighbor or associate. As Thers said last night on Eschaton [and Thers, thankyewthankyew for the links]:
If you have a homophobic friend, now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end.
Heh. It just might be.