Dan Pearce wrote a blog post a while back on Single Dad Laughing titled I’m Christian, unless you’re gay. In the post he describes a phenomenon I think just about everyone is familiar with. It expresses itself sometimes as “I love gay people (or some other group). I have a gay friend.” Other times it expresses itself as “Love the player, hate the game” or “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. Sometimes it even expresses itself as “You’re a bigot” or “It’s not bigoted of me to defend marriage as between one man and one woman”. And other times it expresses itself as Dan Pearce described. His friend Jacob related to Dan over the phone one day:
“Dan, you are the only friend I have that knows I’m gay… Every single person I’ve told has ditched me. They just disappear… They can’t handle knowing and being friends with a gay person.”
The phenomena is dismissing a person, invalidating their arguments, and withholding humanizing love simply because the person possesses some characteristic you’ve associated with “bad”. The logic is something like this: my religion tells me gay people are bad/sinners and therefore anything they say, do, or believe is bad. But as Dan points out, it’s not specific to religion. So that might mean society tells us people from Mexico are this that or the other and therefore… -or- people who do drugs are this that or the other and therefore…
Today, I want to explain the opposite of what Dan explained. What happens when I reverse the roles and put myself in the shoes of my antagonist: I’m gay, unless you’re Christian. I do it all the time. Does that mean I’m just as “bad” about tolerating others as the Christians (or anyone, really) who don’t tolerate me? I don’t know.
Reading over Pearce’s post helped me consider the possibility that perhaps — just maybe — I’m guilty of the very thing he (and I) accuse Christians (or whoever) of doing. Just maybe. Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify what I mean when I say I’m gay, unless you’re Christian. Some of you will interpret this next part as me — a gay person — complaining about being gay, complaining about the world in which I live, complaining about the way people treat me, and complaining about our laws and other civil rights issues. In short, many of you will be tempted to say “Dude, relax! Not everyone hates you.” So, I’ll start by first pointing out that not everyone hates me; this I know. I had a conversation with my brother a few weeks ago over the phone that left me feeling glad I have the family I have. My mom stopped by for a visit around that same time, which reminded me I’m fortunate to have a mom who is part mama bear (she’ll stand against anything to defend her cubs) and part teddy bear (soft, kind, compassionate). Even my dad, who can be grizzly at times, has been known to defend his cubs — even me, his gay son. One of my grandmas has also been supportive. She called me once to let me know that God still loves me and that she still loves me. Her message to me was direct: life is about loving people.
But there’s something interesting about love. Just as easily as love can knit a sweater to keep you warm on the coldest of days, hate unravels it with a single thoughtless gesture leaving you naked, defenseless, and exposed to judgement. Despite all the warmth extended by friends, family, and Christians, a few conversations — that’s all it takes — leave me feeling homeless and confused from time to time.
So what exactly do I mean when I say I’m gay, unless you’re Christian? For reasons I don’t completely understand, when someone identifies as Christian (of any brand), my stomach cringes, I put my hand in my pocket to hide my ring, and I find every excuse to tap out of the conversation or bail out of the situation. Why? I don’t want them to know I’m gay. Why? I guess it’s because of what Christians say about gay people in general and thus indirectly about me. The part I don’t understand is the fact that I’m surrounded by Christians and — for the most part — they have been supportive, accepting, and tolerant. I have few reasons to believe they would be anything but that.
After acknowledging that most Christians in my life are supportive, accepting, and tolerant, I’d like to go into more detail about how the outliers — the extremists — skew my perspective and cause me to fear the possibilities. Here are a few headlines, some recent and others not so recent:
A lot of people are fixated on gay sex. They assume every gay manwants to have sex with every other man as if their sex drive is the sole driving force for everything they do. Here are examples:
- Rick Santorum (who alludes to being Christian by appealing to Biblical, traditional marriage)
- Gays “eat da poo poo” and should be hanged
- More on the anti-gay push in Uganda here.
- Iowa Baker Denies Wedding Cake to Lesbian Couple
- (Mormon) Michael Crook quotes the Bible to justify his views on gays and lesbians claiming they are criminals. (I’m hesitant to link his blog because he’s been known to stalk any one who speaks against him and posts their personal information on his blog. If you want to find his blog, just Google his name or go to his Twitter page.
- BYU student compares gays and lesbians to prostitutes and serial killers http://thestudentreview.org/2011/11/18/no-my-dads-arent-serial-killers-daily-universe-letter-to-the-editor-sparks-controversy/
Most recently, my sister was married; we took family pictures in front of an LDS temple. I worried what would happen to us as it would be clear from the pictures that Dan and I are a couple. I worried about expressing any affection because of what happened at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
Everything worked out aside from the dirty looks we got while holding hands on temple grounds.
So maybe — just maybe — I’m no different than those who are “Christian unless you’re gay”. I’m not really sure, but I’m glad there are Christians in my life who are capable of loving and accepting me and who are incapable of saying intolerant things.