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Open letter to ‘Administrator’: Homophobia is not welcome here

“Personally, I can’t think of anything more unchristian than taking it upon oneself to pass sweeping judgment on others, choosing exclusion and disrespect over understanding and kindness…talk of false prophets.”

Josef Church-Woods

Hmm...yeah, this seems perfectly sound, reasonable and fact-based.

Hmm…yeah, this seems perfectly sound, reasonable and fact-based.

A few weeks ago, we posted an opinion piece on here titled ‘Silence of the Gays’ by Joe Church-Woods, about famous, gay people and the fact that, sadly, they often choose to keep their public persona in the closet. The column referenced Jodie Foster, as it was her ‘coming out speech’ at the Golden Globe Awards that inspired it.

The blog entry earned us a lot of feedback – mostly good, although some readers questioned the premise of the column, offering alternative views on the complex issue of coming out and privacy. We’ve really enjoyed reading people’s responses, and as always, we welcome debate and constructive criticism.

However, as LGBT icons was set up by and for LGBT people, as well as supporters with an interest in LGBT issues, we feel strongly that this blog is not a suitable forum for those who are of the opinion that being (and living as) gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is wrong or sinful.

One reader’s contributions in the comment section of the blog stood out in particular. WordPress user ‘Administrator’ posted a couple of remarks, expressing a whole host of unfounded and homophobic views, some of which were dressed up (rather scantily) as facts.

We are very well aware that the world if full of fundamental Christians and other (religious as well as non-religious) people who are firmly planted in the anti-gay, anti-equality camp. We’re just not sure what their purpose would be in choosing to interact with us on LGBT icons, telling us we are abominations, other than to harass.

Subsequently, Joe has drafted an open letter to ‘Administrator’, in response to their offensive comments. You can read Joe’s letter below if you are interested, and we have also pasted in Administrator’s original comment and the subsequent exchange at the bottom, for context.

Open letter to ‘Administrator’:

The sentiment and attitudes expressed in your comments on the ‘Silence of the Gays’ opinion piece, published on this blog earlier this month, are exactly the kind of arrogant, irrational, narrow-minded and mean-spirited views that make it so difficult for many (gay and straight) people to take anti-gay, religious arguments seriously.

Firstly, being gay is not a choice.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to feel gay, or have ‘homosexual urges’ and experiences, but then ‘grown out of it’, or manage to find happiness and fulfillment in a straight relationship.

What I am saying is that any person going through that kind of sexual journey was never gay, in the purest meaning of the word, in first place. By definition, the ability to find both men and women sexually attractive would make them bisexual, or at least bi-curious. But perhaps you have some contradictory, personal experience in this matter that you can enlighten me with?

Really though, the question of whether or not some people can ‘choose to be straight’ is a sidebar and irrelevant, as far as I am concerned. Because I know for a fact that being gay was not something I chose, and I also know from first hand experience that not everyone can ‘pray the gay away’.

I tried for many years to ‘overcome’ my homosexuality and I spent a considerable amount of time begging God for help. Help which never came, by the way. At least not until I eventually, in my late teens and early 20′s, started to see that there was nothing wrong with me. If God does exists, I can only assume that this insight of mine must have been his will.

You and those like you call yourselves Christians, picking and choosing the bits of the bible that fit in with your subjective, hurtful views, while ignoring all the ones that don’t, including some of the most important and powerful messages to come out of that particular book – namely live and let live; love your fellow humans; and the importance of compassion and generosity of spirit.

Personally, I can’t think of anything more unchristian than taking it upon oneself to pass sweeping judgment on others, choosing exclusion and disrespect over understanding and kindness…talk of false prophets.

Because of people like you, and the ill-informed opinions and preconceptions that you bandy about, growing up as a young, gay person was pretty hellish for me. Why would anyone facing all that bullying, hate and discrimination choose to be gay?

As an adult, I figured out that the problem is not my attraction to other men, it’s the attitudes of homophobic people – even if I could force myself to be straight, I shouldn’t have to. As a scared, lonely teenager though, I wanted nothing more than to be ‘like everyone else’. But I couldn’t help who I was and I couldn’t change it – with or without God. My only choice, I eventually realised, was to accept my situation and try to overcome the fear of being myself.

Every single LGBT person I can think of, who I have every spoken to (a very substantial number over the years), has reported similar experiences growing up, so I know that my struggle is the norm, rather than an exception to the rule.

Thankfully, things are slowly getting better for LGBT people. The general consensus is slowly but surely changing and most people these days (including many decision makers) know that being gay is not a ‘chosen lifestyle’,  a perversion or an illness, just like we all now know that planet Earth isn’t flat, or the centre of the universe.

I would also like to point out that you are wrong when you say that “Homosexuality has always been historically seen as a symptom of the downgrading of any society.” There are lots of examples throughout history, and in communities all around the world, where homosexuality was – and is – considered a normal, functional part of society.

Homosexuality is a naturally occurring, normal variation of sexuality in a huge range of species, including humans. Homophobia, on the other hand, only exists among humans and, like the bible, it is a relatively recent invention in the context of human evolution as a whole.

Not only is homosexuality a natural variation in human beings; numerous scientific studies have also shown that it is not in itself a source of negative psychological effects. By contrast, prejudice and discrimination against gay and bisexual people have been shown to cause psychological harm.

Naturally, I can’t speak for all the gay and bisexual people in the world. However, I can assure you that personally, I am not looking for any ‘special privileges’, and neither are any of the LGBT people I have ever met and spoken to. I’m not sure which gay people and groups you have taken the time to meet and hear, but from your comments, I’m guessing not that many, if any.

We simply want the same rights, privileges and protections afforded everyone else in the society we live in. That, and the right to be who we are without fear of exclusion, discrimination, persecution and violence.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask of the mostly heterosexual and Christian (or otherwise religious) families that brought us into the world.

You may disagree, but if you seriously think that such a request could reasonably explain and justify sociopolitical upheaval, as well as the breakdown of the family unit, then you really need to rethink your world view, or at the very least try to understand someone else’s circumstances.

Please don’t bother visiting the LGBT icons blog again, or responding to this, unless you have something significantly more rational and less offensive to say.

Thanks,
Joe

Administrator’s comments on the Silence of the Gays blog post, with responses:

Administrator, January 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

It used to be that people who ascribed to an alternate lifestyle wanted to have rights and be recognized. Now these same people want to take away the rights of everyone who disagrees with them. How much lower can we get before the bottom drops out?

Reply:

Tapman, January 28, 2013 at 3:35 am

I think maybe you have been listening to some conspiracy theories? What rights do they actually want to take away from us?

Josef Church-Woods, January 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Administrator – your comment illustrates perfectly the position of many conservative, religious and ‘anti-equality’ individuals in the UK. As you can imagine, I have a huge problem with the notion that encouraging an inclusive and anti-discriminatory environment – and introducing measures to give everyone in our society equal rights, privileges and protections – would somehow be unfair and mean towards people who feel homosexuality is wrong. It’s the equivalent of a racist shop owner arguing it’s unfair that they have to serve black people, or a misogynist complaining that letting ladies vote is infringing on his right to male superiority. They can think that if they want, but in this day and age, I’d like to think they’ll understand and accept that that the law, the government and the majority of the rest of the population won’t back them up. Some people may feel affronted and upset that not everyone wants to adhere to their belief system, but the fact is that they are still very much free to stick with it themselves. Take the issue of same sex marriage for example; no one is proposing to force religious organisations to marry gay or bisexual couples if they don’t want to, and those who do not believe in this type of union are under no obligation to be part of one in any way. Yet the mere idea that same sex couples could have a faith, and want to acknowledge that in their commitment to each other, seems to offend huge numbers of religious and anti-gay people no end. Like it’s somehow ruining religion for them. It’s got nothing to do with anyone other than the couple, their family and their church, so why would anyone else think that letting same-sex couples get married in church might take something away from them, or denigrate their own relationship? If their faith, or their marriage, is so fragile that its well-being is threatened by the lives of people they don’t even know, perhaps it’s time for them to reconsider their spiritual and emotional priorities? Bottom line is, we’re all free to our personal beliefs and opinions, but we still have to accept that other people have different beliefs. And provided they are law abiding citizens, they should have the same legal protection and recognition as everyone else in our society. As Jesus might have said: If LGBT equality is slapping you in the face, turn the other cheek.

Reply:

Administrator, January 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm

There is one thing that you fail to understand is that the homosexual choice cannot be put on the same level as gender or race. Placing choice of lifestyle on the same level those who did not choose their gender of race distracts from the real issue of what a homosexual is. The real issue is not that homosexuals should be a special class of persons who deserve to be protected, but that any society who truly seeks enlightenment and progress should learn from the past. Homosexuality has always been historically seen as a symptom of the downgrading of any society. The selfish nature and prideful position that the homosexual and homosexual groups have should serve to show us that our society, culture, and now the family unit is in deep deep trouble. Not only does the homosexual seek to gain special privileges, but they want to take away the common-sense and natural rights of those who ascribe to any universal absolute. Why do you think Isalm, Facism, and totalitarianism are growing trends in the west? People are frustrated that basic moral behavior is being lost and are will to turn to anything that would protect them… even if it’s been already proven to over-step other basic human freedoms. It’s time you re-thought impact of what you think you believe.

Reply:

Tapman, January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Dear Administrator, since when has homosexuality been a choice of lifestyle? I think you may have missed thirty years of scientific discovery. You seem also to have received some history classes that none of the rest have. If your a Christian, please stop, your embarrassing the rest of us.

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13 replies

  1. Joe, I read your open letter to “Administrator” as well as “Administrator’s” comments to the blog. While I knew that people such as “Administrator” exist in today’s world, I see no reason why this person would write such comments on your blog other than for the pure pleasure of harassing you and the LGBT community. Gay people should be afforded the same opportunities, protections, and rights that all members of our society enjoy. You are absolutely right, Joe, in stating that this “Administrator” must have fairly weak convictions and family ideas in order for him to feel so threatened by how those around him may live and by whom those around him may fall in love with or may be attracted to. There is nothing Christian about this individual (and I use the term ‘individual’ loosely when referring to “Administrator”). If he was truly a Christian, he would follow the teachings of Christ who called upon all people to accept and welcome all those who are different than themselves. For many years I did not attend any church, but continued to believe in God and Christ. I had stopped going to the church that I was raised in upon the realization that they had fundamentally different ideologies and practices than my own–starting with the belief that homosexuality is a sin, and including the belief that females are somehow inferior and therefore should submit to their male counterparts. Luckily, I recently found a church that not only accepts all humans equally, but champions the rights of the LGBT community and regularly launches campaigns for the protection of those rights. In other words, I know they practice what they preach because of their actions. Regardless of what one’s religious beliefs are (whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other religion), I believe in being first and foremost a decent human being and in doing so, accepting all other humans equally. Unless someone has committed a crime against you or one of your loved ones, there is no reason to hate or dislike someone, especially not on the basis of their race, gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. If more people in this world would take the time to think and understand that what brings us all together is our humanity and therefore we should all be more accepting of all facets of humanity, this world would slowly but surely move toward a more peaceful, caring, compassionate coexistence.

    1. Hi A! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the LGBT icons blog (as well as my personal blog), and sharing your experience with us! What a great story you have – proving yet again that it is perfectly possible to combine a Christian faith with compassion, love and an open mind. As you point out, these traits are at the very heart of what Jesus taught and what Christianity is (or should be) all about. Thank you again for your insightful and supportive contribution – it is very much appreciated! Cheers, Joe :)

  2. Thanks Joe for taking the time to write a response to the “Administrator” I had steam coming out my ears – my response may not have looked so good in print. If nothing else the Administrator has highlighted to the world how arrogant and uncaring some people can be. (Keep up the good work :)

    Dear Administrator, (if your still reading) I had a lot to say to you but ended up erasing it all. Here is what is left.

    Don’t believe everything you read. I am assuming you have read anti-gay “Christian” literature. If they provide footnotes check them out – you will be surprised at how wrong and misleading they be. I held views similar to yours about two years ago but alarm bells began ringing for me when a Christian blogger was extremely unsympathetic towards a man who had lost his gay son to suicide. This lack of love is a sure sign that something is not right. I doubt anything I say would change your opinions but for the sake of truth look further than the books written for the express purpose of fighting against someone. Jesus/Christianity is not like this.

    1. Hi Tapman! I just wanted to write you a note to thank you for taking the time to read and comment on these LGBT icon blog entries. It’s really encouraging to see people engaging with us as well as other readers, and especially of course, challenging offensive and ignorant views. It’s not that I don’t welcome alternative opinions, but there is a difference between offering your point of view and simply being offensive to an audience of people who you know nothing about, for the sake of it. It’s always great to hear from people who, despite perhaps not starting out from a particularly gay-friendly place, have decided that being compassionate and inclusive towards all is more constructive and rewarding than hate mongering to honour a rigid, judgmental belief system. Thanks again for your support and input – you keep the good work up too! :)

  3. Oh double sigh… my response is the same (or close to) your response, “It’s amazing exactly the kind of arrogant, irrational, narrow-minded and mean-spirited views that make it so difficult for many [normal] … people to take … gay, [anti]-religious arguments seriously.

    It really isn’t worth responding to the rest of your points since it’s made up of the same lack-of-tolerance, self centered, and violent nature that most homosexuals express toward those who would disagree with their desire to live outside the boundaries of common sense biology.

    My point is simple; stop trying to justify your choice of lifestyle by twisting science into something it can never be. Stop trying to convince the world around you by an in-your-face-lack-of-tolerance methodology.

    If you you really believe you are living the right way, then do so quietly and without the anti-religious rhetoric.

    But above all… take responsibility for your own actions. We’re all headed for the grave and will be held accountable for each and every action. When that happens, who will you blame? Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, or fill-in-the-blank-of-your-favorite-philosopher.

    1. It seems ‘Admin’ is a devoted reader of this blog, so we’d better get used to her hanging around, dropping little bombs now and again.

      Personally, I welcome a regular reminder that after 2,000 years, the anti-gay christian mob is getting a taste of what it feels like to be in the minority.

      It’s hilarious!

      1. It’s truly SAD when the so-called gay crowd rallies around meaningless, intolerant, religious-phobia, and violent natured talk. It just confirms the fact that Homosexuals have an agenda to take away the rights of people who want nothing more than to live decent lives and not be assaulted, at every turn, by those who think they have special rights and are above natural law.
        I’m not laughing… I truly do feel sad that you’re suppressing the truth.
        You can take comfort in knowing that I will not post anymore since you no longer have ears to hear.

        1. Hooray, another homophobe silenced … well done y’all at LGBT Icons, we did it with words alone and didn’t have to resort to electro aversion therapy, bashing, or making laws that restrict personal freedoms.

          Happy reading ‘Admin’, you’ve got plenty to learn on this site, so I hope you keep coming back. When you’ve grown out of your outmoded old testament views, and your “poor me, I’m being marginalised” attitude, you might like to comment again from an evolved perspective.

          1. My silence is nothing compared to God’s terminal silence. I hope that one day you may find the freedom you don’t deserve.

            1. I knew you’d be sticking around, Addie. Your silence won’t actually start until you remain silent, and you gave us quite a flamboyant promise that you would, so please, bring it on.

              God’s silence, on the other hand, is something that neither you, me, or the gatepost has any control over. God expressed nothing about gay people – it’s mankind who speaks all the homophobic vitriol.

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