There is no reason for modern people to hate, fear, or persecute gay people.
That’s my thesis statement for this little rant post.
For years, I have heard arguments (almost invariably really weak arguments) that homosexuality is a blight on our society, and that by allowing gays the same rights as heterosexuals, and by fighting against continuing discrimination, somehow civilization will crumble, and there will be people fucking in the streets.
Those arguments often hinge on religious beliefs, so let’s get that one out of the way first.
Here’s the deal. Religious people (and that covers a lot of ground, but since the majority of religious people in America still self-identify as Christians, I’ll address them, although this can apply to many faiths): Quite simply, if you believe in any God and a hierarchy of holy beings, and you guide your opinions and life choices based on that belief, then you must accept that, to anyone that doesn’t believe the same things as you, some, maybe all, of the things you believe sound like fairy tales.
I am not an atheist, and I do not particularly like the completely close-minded, smart assed atheists that seem to often dominate conversations about the value of objective fact verses faith. It should be noted, that while those people often drown out the more reasonable, or at least less abrasive voices among atheists, they are not representative of all of them.
Still, even to a person who is open to the concept of religious belief as a guide for moral decision making, not all religions believe the same things. If I decided that I believed in a giant magic rabbit that granted wishes as long as I listened to Led Zeppelin albums day in and day out, most people might not believe that. If after a great deal of time, my Magic Bunny Zeppelin religion gained millions of followers, many people might do like most of us in this country. We’d show quiet respect for the weird belief systems of others, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else.
And that’s important, because “quiet respect” is vastly different than “actually believing” what someone else does. Respect also works as a two way street. It’s impossible to respect a person with a belief system you find odd or unbelievable if they don’t extend that same respect in return.
So most of us are content to live in a modern society where it’s understood that not everyone shares the same religious beliefs, or any belief at all, but where we are respectful enough to allow people to worship as they please as long as no one is getting hurt. There’s a balance at work.
But that respect quickly erodes when someone expects the rest of us to conduct our lives in accordance with their religious tradition. I’m sure most Christians would be displeased if say, the local Wiccans expected everyone to go “skyclad” on Tuesday because their religion demanded it.
My point here is not to beat up on Christians or other religious people, and it’s not my intention to ridicule anyone. It’s to point out that what might make total sense to a religious person within the bounds of their own belief system may be completely weird or unbelievable to other folks. It’s not fair or acceptable to expect others to live their lives by someone else’s belief system. Our society has managed to bang out various laws and traditions that seem acceptable, or at least tolerable to most of us. Sure, friction arises often enough, but there aren’t violent wars on America’s streets over religious disagreements for the most part.
So, the “Gays are bad because the Bible or Koran (or whatever) says they are,” doesn’t hold a lot of water. It certainly isn’t a good argument for discrimination against gays, unless we also want to enforce other religious laws that have become inconvenient to most modern civilizations.
Besides, in the case of Jesus, he said absolutely nothing damning gays. That stuff all belongs to the Old Testament along with other things most of us have decided isn’t a good fit for a civilized society. I like to think that the Jesus of the New Testament taught a lesson of inclusiveness and forgiveness, not exclusion and hate. Just my interpretation, but I don’t know how so many of Jesus’s followers get the opposite message.
So, if we set aside religious opposition to gays based on ancient rule books, what’s left?
Well, there’s the argument that gays being allowed to marry (a way of society acknowledging their relationships as valid) will somehow undermine the structure of our civilization and open the floodgates to all sorts of truly deviant behavior. I don’t understand how this slippery slope argument is supposed to be compelling. At one time it was socially unacceptable for women to wear pants, and the fact that it’s now normal for women to wear pants didn’t snowball into some indecent trend where people go naked from the waist down on casual Friday.
I’ve heard arguments that if gays can marry, then what will stop people from marrying their dogs? Well, first of all, very few sane people want to marry animals. Secondly, since the animal can’t agree to get married, that argument doesn’t really work on a logical level. The fact that society has loosened its grip on certain things over the years does not mean that a significant number of people are going to push the envelope of acceptable behavior into ridiculous extremes if homosexuals are allowed the same basic rights and freedoms as heterosexuals.
Another angle of this argument that’s used often is to point out the more extreme elements of Pride Parades – men walking around almost naked, as if that proves that allowing gay marriage would compel nearly-naked leather men to hang out everywhere in public, dongs-a-flopping. I can say with great resolve that this is unlikely to happen. For one thing, a Pride Parade is not indicative of the average behavior most gays are going to engage in normally. It’s a Pride Parade – a celebratory moment, that sometimes trends towards the extreme. The guys walking down the street during the parade wearing a banana hammock? Probably work straight (see what I did there?) jobs and have more or less normal-looking lives most of the time.
Then there’s the simple “It’s not natural” responses, intended to cast homosexuality as an abnormal condition or sexual perversion, and in doing so, trying to paint it negatively in the way that we might Peeping Toms. Basically no reliable sources back that view up anymore. Homosexuality might not always have had this status, but it is certainly a normal part of the human condition, and one that has been with us since the very beginning. Often, the people that push the “It’s not normal” opinion, claim that homosexuality is a choice. I find that line of reasoning to be ludicrous, and for a simple reason. What heterosexual has ever made the choice to be straight? Because I don’t ever remember being presented with a “choice.” I suddenly started noticing girls, and realizing that they stirred certain feelings in me. There was never some moment where I chose them over guys. And to the heterosexuals that believe in this “choice” concept, I have to ask. Did you ever consider sucking cocks or touching other dudes? Ever consider man-on-man sex as a viable option? Because if they didn’t, how can they say that gay people chose to be gay? Sexual orientation seems to be something most people are born with, one way or the other. For that matter, if sexual orientation is a choice, why would anyone choose a lifestyle that’s likely to cause them great discrimination and possible danger from those that will hate them? The answer to this is simple. There is no choice involved.
This same lame argument also frames equality for gays as somehow being detrimental to children – that somehow having society regard homosexuality as a normal lifestyle will turn straight kids gay. How this transformation is supposed to take place I have no idea, and I reject it for the same reasons that I reject that “choosing to be gay” scenario. Straight people are going to be straight, and gay people are going to be gay. There may be some shades of grey in there somewhere, but eventually a person generally settles into one camp or the other. Being taught that it’s OK to be gay isn’t in any way going to convince a straight kid to become a homosexual. The fact is that a proven detriment to children is growing up gay in a society where that lifestyle is persecuted. This fact is certainly borne out by the disturbingly high rate of suicide among gay kids.
Finally, the arguments against granting gays equal rights just come down to some weird hatred or distrust of gay people. I’ve heard folks state that the idea of gay sex repulses them, for instance. Fair enough, the idea of it isn’t my cup of tea either, but here’s the deal – granting equality to gays doesn’t mean that straight people have to watch them fuck. Here’s a secret – I don’t want to see MOST people have sex. Even people we think would look awesome having sex, probably really don’t. The average American looks pretty horrid these days. Look around. Do you want to see most of your neighbors pumping away at each other, flopping around and huffing sweatily while they get their jollies? Me either.
Gays probably are equally repulsed by the idea of straight sex, so it works both ways. Society has decided that most of us don’t want to see other people fucking, and has passed laws to keep that from happening, so just because Jack and Bill decide to get married doesn’t mean that we have to watch their bedroom activities.
I guess my point is that it doesn’t matter who other consenting adults want to fuck, it doesn’t in any way affect me, or any of us. The best neighbors I ever had were a gay couple. They had a nice house and yard, rarely talked to me other than waving hello, and never had the cops called to their house – something a few of the straight couples on my street could not claim.
Oh, and I never had to watch them do it.
I think that among some straight men, part of their dislike of gays stems from some stupid feeling that gay men want them. I’ve dealt with a few pushy gay guys that hit on me over the years, but I’ve dealt with a lot more pushy straight women doing the same thing. For most guys, I think they need a better sense of perspective. Are they knee deep in females that want to fuck them? No? Then what makes them think all gay men want to?
Finally, there’s the old argument that “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman,” and that by altering this unwavering LAW OF MARRIAGE, society will crumble. Again, some people must think that all it would take to destroy civilization is a good dose of the Gay, and that’s a pretty troubling realization.
But has marriage always been defined as a bond between a man and a woman? The answer is no. Polygamy has been, and is still practiced throughout the world, and same sex unions which were recognized by society were practiced in antiquity, going back as far as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Same sex marriages are not a new thing.
When it comes down to it, there really is no valid argument for why one group of consenting adults should accept second class citizenship or discrimination simply because a large number of people are uncomfortable with their lifestyle. There are lots of people living lives that I would hate to live myself, but which I fully accept as OK for them. In the final analysis, nothing that other adults do within the confines of their own relationship or bedroom affects me negatively, and I bet that’s the case for most of us. The idea that it’s still acceptable to treat homosexuals abusively, or to demand that they accept less than the rest of us simply because we’re uncomfortable with their existence, is a blight on our society. In the long run, treating each other fairly and with respect does not erode civilization or our personal religious beliefs, it actually builds the bonds that form civilization, and still allows for our differences.
There is no real way use logic to prove that hatred or discrimination is somehow good. In fact, the interesting thing in attempting to do so is that logic will actually prove the opposite is true. Hatred is not a virtue, and it is a killer of the human spirit.