Happy National Coming Out Day!

Let me just take the opportunity to let all my LGBTQ friends know how much I admire your resilience in the midst of so much cultural hostility.  Individuality, self-definition, self-creation, self-overcoming, and values-innovation are all extremely high ideals to me (in no small part due to my Nietzscheanism).  And the increasingly successful struggle of gays  in the last 40 years to overcome extraordinary resistance simply to be who they are has in so many instances led to extraordinary people, extraordinary feats of counter-cultural self-definition, self-creation, and beautiful, progressive, ennobling values re-definition.

I admire the courage of anyone willing to risk so much abuse and discrimination in the name of being true to who they are and who they love.  I admire anyone able to find the fortitude to understand themselves at cross-currents with arbitrary and often brutal and dehumanizing social molds.  I admire anyone willing to risk losing family, friends, employment, all for the sake of the truth.  And I admire anyone who in doing all of this helps the stubborn, traditionalistic, reactionary, difference-hating, tribalistic human brain shed another of its outmoded knee-jerk prejudices and embrace humane, fair, progressive reason over irrational, primitive disgusts.

In the last 40 years so many brave gays have made themselves open targets for abuse by vulnerably coming out to family and friends.  And as they have taken this risk in greater and greater numbers they have changed an astounding number of hearts and cultural attitudes. Their courage and fierce insistence on the right to be themselves and love who they love is still steadily increasing straight empathy and understanding and the younger generation of gays is already benefitting so much.  There is so much for the older, trailblazing gays to be proud of and I sure hope they are.

Those willing to be hated for the sake of the truth have made possible not just increasing tolerance but increasing love and an ennobling cultural discussion on the meaning of love.  I see the struggle of gays for full cultural acceptance (and not merely the consolation prize of backhanded “tolerance”) as a defining battle in the war of reason against traditionalism for the essence of morality.  The central question has become whether we will be people who define morality in terms of fairness, equality, self-fulfillment, self-creation, self-overcoming, love, and progressive adaptivity, or whether we will let it continue to be synonymous with the reactionary conformist, fearful, closed-minded, irrationalistic, emotionalistic traditionalism that its self-proclaimed protectors demand?  That’s the struggle of the Enlightenment against the Dark Ages, of freedom against authoritarianism, and of rationalism against traditionalism.

On a personal level, a large impetus for me to abandon faith-based reasoning (and my faith with it) 10 years ago was that I saw the way that it forced me to stand behind moral judgments that I did not believe in purely on the basis of authority and faith.  It created an unconscionable and unjustifiable wedge in one of my most cherished friendships.  Coming to terms with my faith’s immorality, irresponsibility, and unfair irrationality with respect to gays was one of the most pivotal factors in making me realize that every time a faith asks you to believe and judge in accordance with principles for which it does not give adequate justification, it is immoral, irresponsible, unfair, irrational, and regressive to the cause of knowledge and justice.

And so for all these reasons, I extremely strongly identify the cause of gay rights with the cause of rationalism, Enlightenment, love, and freedom and feel complete solidarity with the gay rights movement.  I feel your victories as my own and your losses as my own.  You have my passionate support and my personal admiration.

And in honor of National Coming Out Day, one of my favorite Magnetic Fields songs, “When My Boy Walks Down The Street”:

And finally, a message for all of us, from Melissa Etheridge in the words and melody of that god of rock and roll Tom Petty:

“You don’t have to live like a refugee.”

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

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  • Joe

    Umm yeah… pack fudge all you want, but that first picture you’ve got up there is the most insulting thing I’ve ever seen in my life. As a United States Marine, I am personally offended. Thousands of brave men died on Iwo Jima to make the original version of that picture mean something, and you have made a mockery of it by spreading your homosexual feces all over it. May you all get AIDS and die.

    • Daniel Fincke

      You have no right to be offended. The brave gays who have fought for their rights, their dignity, and their equality in this country have advanced all of our rights, all of our dignity, and all of our equality in the process. They have sought to advance this nation’s realization of its own deals of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness for all. They deserve to raise a flag symbolizing the rainbow of different people that make America special.

      This is a great country not because we have soldiers. Any country can have people who kill. Our superior military might does not of itself make us a moral country. Your service to our country in uniform does not make you any less a despicable and hateful, abusive bigot who stands against the ideals that actually make America special.

      America is special only insofar as it is an incredible experiment in pluralism, where a thousand pursuits of happiness are each able to flourish unencumbered by fear of punishment from violent traditionalists or a censorious government.

      You want to make it a place of fear and disrespect, of squashing everything different than you. You want to claim the sacrifice of Marines for your own. Well, fuck that. Those Marines died for all of us, not for you. They died for liberty, not for the closeting of their fellow citizens. They fought for equality and free expression, not the hatred you want to spread.

      You are the dishonor to your uniform as you use it as a justification for spouting the sort of exclusionary closed minded authoritarianism that America is meant to oppose.

      In honor of the honorable World War II veteran (and father of a gay soldier himself) in the video below, a man who understood what made his fighting noble and justified, I proudly repost the picture you find so offensive.

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrEbJBFWIPk&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0×006699&color2=0x54abd6

      http://shanghaiist.com/assets_c/2009/09/GayFlag-thumb-363×466-436191.jpg

  • Jamie from facebook

    Joe, and how many of those brave men were themselves homosexual, but unable to lead a normal life due to arseholes like you.

    Actually, you sound scared. You’re probably gay yourself – it’s usually those closet homosexuals that are the most homophobic.

  • http://atheists-and-christians.blogspot.com/ Mike aka MonolithTMA

    It’s frightening when a few in our US military have no idea what they are fighting for. I thank our brave men and women in the service for defending all of our freedoms, not just those they agree with.

  • Ralph LaPlante

    Joe it sounds like you’d fit right in with the folks at the Westboro Baptist Church.. You should be ashamed of yourself. And like those idiot racist homophobes there, we tolerate them because free speech requires putting up with morons like yourself, like the KKK marches with racists marching proudly, we all see them for what they are, narrow minded bigots.. I hope you neuter yourself to break the cycle of bigotry you were obviously taught

  • Das

    Thanks, Dan!

    Good blog post.

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  • JustBe

    The post was a wonderful tribute to National Coming Out Day that left me feeling warm and happy. Allies like you are an incredible support for the community.

    I read Joe’s comments and had to laugh. Why are anti-gay people always reading articles and stories that are obviously going to be very pro-gay? When I read the title of this post, I knew that I’d like the content just as much as he could tell that he wouldn’t. Despite all these people seem to read about the gay community, why are they so uninformed?

    “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    Every once in a while, minds change. People who understand, keep talking about these things and maybe someday the Joes will change (or fail to reproduce as often and eventually become extinct).


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