Linda Harvey, the Most Homophobic Woman In America, recently published a book, Maybe He’s Not Gay. When it came out, I remarked that, though we can be grateful that the audience for tomes such as hers shrinks daily, this book will still hurt LGBT kids and their families, as it will deceive well-meaning parents into believing that the way to love their kids is also the sort of “love” that drives those same kids to depression, self-harm and suicide. After its publication, Linda whined that people who don’t agree with her were reviewing the book on Amazon and subsequently pulled it from the website. I had actually been considering procuring a copy and reading it, so that I could review and rebut it, but Camille at The Friendly Atheist has already done so, and every word of her review is worth reading.
One thing that bothers Linda is that gay couples cannot, by themselves, create children:
And they will never be able to be impregnated by their chosen partners of the same sex. They will never be able to conceive and bear children as a same sex couple. Isn’t this a colossal error, if indeed homosexuality has always been normal and natural, and we today are the ones finally enlightened enough to grasp this? Doesn’t this severe limitation contradict the popular narrative?
That’s a great question to pose to the millions of straight people who are unable to conceive children. Equating sexual orientation with biological functions is offensive on so many levels — and to people on her side, too!
The part of this that made me start to hyperventilate is when she compared homosexuality to skipping class, being overweight, cheating on exams, cheating on a spouse, or even developing an eating disorder: all behaviors she considers “not genetic, high-risk, and changeable.”
The funny thing about anti-gay Religious Right folks is that they often say and do things that are phenomenally offensive even to people on their own side. They’re so hung up on how we have sex — in a strangely prurient way — that they don’t notice that, in discounting our relationships, they’re discounting the relationships of infertile straight couples as well.
The review gets really good when Camille starts working through Linda’s dire warnings about what will happen when LGBT kids are allowed to grow up happy, healthy and supported. I’ll share Camille’s reactions and some of my own. Here’s one of Linda’s warnings:
Someone may confess a gay “crush” on you, whether or not you have any interest, and if you aren’t polite, even if they are quite aggressive, you may be accused of bigotry and discrimination. In fact, being repulsed by a gay person’s pursuit of you will no longer be an acceptable reaction. You won’t have a choice — it won’t be “cool” and it may also go against the school or company rules on discrimination and you will become the “bad guy” who is expelled or fired.
Are you KIDDING me? Are we obligated by law to favorably accept it when people of any sex confess crushes on us? Is this how Linda Harvey was raised?
If somebody confesses a crush and you’re not interested, regardless of your or their sexual orientation, there’s no reason to be cruel about it. Normal people consider it flattery and move on with their lives. If you are being sexually harassed by someone, gay or straight, that’s a problem and you can be repulsed all you want. Moreover, there are workplace and school rules against that, and you deal with the situation. Being “repulsed” by the fact that somebody simply has a crush on you is not a normal human reaction, and suggests that you are the one with the problem.
Another complaint from Linda:
You may get a summer job where you are in contact with practicing homosexuals, and you may be forced to listen to them describe their homosexual relationships, even if you don’t want to. Complaining may result in a charge of discrimination, a demotion or even being fired.
Who talks about their sexual relationships at work? However, if a man you work with mentions that his husband cooked him a wonderful dinner the night before and that bothers you, again, you are the problem, because that is the kind of thing that normal people talk about. Perhaps people like Linda Harvey shouldn’t try to commune with polite society if this is such a huge problem.
Same sex marriage will become legal and you will be expected to attend and applaud these weddings, and to introduce partners to your family and friends.
And Camille’s response to this one is spot on:
Who the hell is holding a gun to your head and telling you to attend your gay nephew’s wedding? There’s a very simple response in this situation: Politely decline and keep your homophobia at home. Send a gravy boat or something.
If you think this is a real problem, then you are the problem.
That really is the takeaway for this whole screed. Linda Harvey has spent her life demonizing LGBT kids and their families and her work has undoubtedly been a factor in very real loss and pain for families who have been unfortunate enough to come in contact with her work. She screams from the hilltops that an entire minority population is the problem, when the reality is that it’s people like her who are the problem. No one is taking away Linda’s right to live her life as she sees fit, true to her own beliefs, but she doesn’t have the right to demand that everyone else conform to her worldview. If Linda had a gay nephew getting married, first of all, I’m sure she’s been such a delightful aunt that her invitation was preemptively lost in the mail. I can’t imagine that her nephew would want her within a 100 mile radius on his special day, or really any other day, for that matter. But she’s not being “forced” to celebrate anything. If she can’t share in a family member’s joy, I pity her, but she’s free to stay home and grimace about it.
Linda’s worldview is so self-centered, though, that she can’t focus on anything but the fact that our existence bothers her. Maybe one day, years ago, she was hurt by a gay person. Maybe one day, years ago, somebody else suggested that she find a hobby, and she didn’t listen. Regardless, what we have here is an extremely bitter woman who is willing to mangle statistics, cite outdated studies and fearmonger, all because she can’t get through a day without being pissed off that there are gay couples and families happily existing in homes full of love, kindness and support. The fact that it’s all about her comes through strongly in this complaint:
No one will be allowed to joke about men who want to wear dresses or women who have beards, and restrooms and locker rooms will be non-gendered.
Her real fear — and it’s valid, and already coming true — is that we are becoming a society where her sort of hate is simply not acceptable in polite company. As Camille responds:
Oh, poor you! You won’t be able to publicly degrade other people anymore? How heartbreaking! Who will play you in the Lifetime movie?!
This is the moral equivalent of white people complaining that they’re not allowed to say “nigger” anymore. And in that world (which is quickly coming to pass) where it’s not considered acceptable to demonize and berate LGBT people, well then, where does Linda even fit? What has she done or contributed that people value? Is there anything else to her beyond her campaign of hate?
Those are questions that only Linda, in the darkest nights of her soul, can answer.