Gay and Godless in Houston

We know it’s tough to be an atheist in general. It’s not easy being gay, either. But when you’re both of those things — in Houston, Texas — it’s even worse. Sometimes you feel like you’re the only person you know who fits that description.

Reader Jimmy wanted fellow Houston gaytheists to know they’re not alone and that the Houston Atheists would welcome them with open arms, so he created the following ad:

After reading the recent articles you had about the atheist billboards, I decided to come up with, and donate the funds for, an ad to appeal to the Houston GBLT community. I have been ‘out’ as a gay man but felt it was time to come ‘out’ as an atheist, in print, in hopes others in the gay community would know they have a place to go and speak freely about how they believe…

I hope that in other cities they are using the Meetup site or making arrangements through Facebook and Twitter to meet *in person* with others to talk, listen, and learn.

I share that sentiment. Even in the most conservative of areas, there are other atheists and LGBT-allies who won’t judge you for who you are or how you think.

Incidentally, Jimmy’s ad ran on p. 55 in the December edition of OutSmart, a free monthly magazine for the gay community.

Before you start criticizing the placement of the ad or the design, remember that the message is a positive one and if it reaches someone who may not know about our community, then it was effective. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZHOCK73TUTRODJBTWMNH2HZI6A Samantha

    Why would we criticize? 

    • Rieux

      Yeah. Who would complain about that ad?

      I mean, I think Gone With the Wind is overrated, but still….

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZHOCK73TUTRODJBTWMNH2HZI6A Samantha

        Maybe they don’t like it being next to Tacos a GO GO. Granted, I’ve never been, but tacos sound good to me. 

    • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

      Frankly, I do give a damn about gay atheists… because they’re awesome!  Maybe that’s the anticipated criticism?

  • Revyloution

    Why aren’t all gays atheists? I once met a gay, Christian, Republican.  The amount of cognitive dissonance was almost painful to watch as he tried to reconcile all these divergent philosophies.

    • JimmyMack

      Actually, I would have thought so.

      From my experience, it seems that growing up gay you are so condemned by small town America’s churches and that your quest in coming to the big city is to find a church that will tell you your OK and will go to heaven.

      So, it becomes more of a search for justification for your soul, as opposed to, just saying ‘to Hell with you people the whole thing is just total BS.’

      This is why there are so, so many gay churches in larger cities. When you are programmed in a faith like Christianity, it is with great difficulty that you can’t get out of that mindset and travel on the road to an open minded approach.

  • Anonymous

    I confess that I do not know first-hand how tough it is to be Gay, but I also know that it is not tough to be atheist. Not at all. I am atheist and I’m not one bit stressed out about it. Why would I be?

    • Rieux

      Because, in many parts of the world, being an “out” atheist exposes you to severe abuse, discrimination, and brutality from people who hate atheists?

      Are you implying that “it is not tough” for anyone to be an atheist? Do you think everyone else is as lucky as you are?

      • Anonymous

        It has nothing to do with luck Rieux. Nothing. It’s how you choose to live your life. 

        I choose reason and rationality. There was nothing “tough” about discarding religion, myth and superstition for me. 

        As for what effect my reason and non-believe has on others, I further choose to ignore it. Plain and simple. 

        There is way too much to know, to experience, to explore, to live, for me (and I dare say, anyone) to care about “people who hate atheists”. 

        The tide has turned. Though it may be a few more hundred years, the overwhelming trend (especially with our ability to communicate with each other on our planet) is the ultimate demise of religion, myth, superstition and the supernatural as important doctrines. Hang in there.

        • Mary Napier

          It may be a little longer than a few hundred years for mankind to evolve beyond religion and myth.  It’s the remedial nature of man.  He cannot forsake his father.  Or, it is not easy to forsake your father.  Growth is perceived as evil until it is common knowledge.   “My teacher taught me there was a God because all men believed so, and I call out to the uncaring God, who answers not, from childish want and ages gone by.” 

          • JimmyMack

            Very well put, Ms. Napier!

        • Rieux

          As for what effect my reason and non-believe has on others, I further choose to ignore it. Plain and simple.

          I don’t think it’s intentional on your part, but your comments here come off seriously callous to the very real difficulties that thousands of atheists have with bigotry and discrimination. That you don’t have that problem, and that you have the luxury of “ignoring it,” is in fact extremely lucky for you. Neither the ad in the original post nor my previous comment refer to the difficulty of rejecting religion; they pertain to the difficulty of being brutally mistreated by powerful atheophobes. It’s really not cool to dismiss such things as callously as your comments—I hope unintentionally—have.

          It is depressingly common for atheists to have child custody limited, or even denied, explicitly on the basis of their atheism. Cases have been documented again and again and again, in states including Michigan, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas. But according to Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy, “Mississippi is the most serious offender.” Volokh goes on to say, “In 2001, for instance, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld an order giving a mother custody partly because she took the child to church more often than the father did, thus providing a better ‘future religious example.’ In 2000, it ordered a father to take the child to church each week, as a [lower] Mississippi court ordered… reasoning that ‘it is certainly to the best interests of [the child] to receive regular and systematic spiritual training.’”

          Try to imagine a judge in this country denying or limiting custody to a parent, explicitly and specifically, because they were Jewish. Because they were Mormon. Because they were Baptist. And now, try to imagine a judge in this country denying or limiting custody to a parent, explicitly and specifically because they’re an atheist. You don’t have to imagine it. This is real. This happens.

           - Greta Christina, “10 Scariest States to Be an Atheist

        • Anonymous

          Just curious: where do you live?

          Yeah, some parts is easier than others. The US is more religious than other western countries. The American South is more religious than the east coast. Cities are less religious than rural areas. Some jobs have a higher concentration of atheists than others, etc….

          So depending on where you live, it can be easy. But others have it hard and do indeed face real discrimination and harassment

          • Anonymous

            I live in a northern suburb of Dallas, TX Stev84. There are more religious zealots per capita here than anywhere else that I have lived. I’ve been here for ten years now and I’m proud to say that I am neither a believer in faith (of any organized kind) or a Dallas Cowboy fan. 

            My point is that while I recognize the tremendous battles that we rationalists/humanists/atheists have been through and that more are just around the corner, I say, so what. People either accept me for who I am and respect my positions (even if they don’t agree with them) or it’s THEIR problem to cope with our differences. Not mine. 

            I have almost finished raising 5 children and I’m happy to say that I have raised (with lots of help) 5 non-believing rationalists with a positive attitude about themselves and others. We may disagree on what good music is but we all agree that life is to be lived and enjoyed and we agree (you will pardon the expression): fuck the assholes. Including the institutional ones. 

  • Ronlawhouston

    OK  Close to a 40 year resident of Houston here.  I’m with Revyloution.  Are there really that many gays that even if they aren’t atheists are at least what I’d call mostly secular?  I do get Jimmy’s perspective.  I know that having to interface with a heterosexual mostly Christian environment is a double conundrum; however, my guess is that the gay community in Houston is not particularly religious. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy
      • JimmyMack

        Excellent thread… Looks like nothing has really changed since 2008.

        Or has it? Is it possible that since the Tea Party movement became the driving force leading to the religious right campaign starring the Republican presidential hopefuls, it has gotten worse?

        I just watched Rick Perry’s pro-Christian, anti-gay ad this morning on TV. Look at Michelle Bachman “crazy eyes” and Rick “smelly butt”Sanitarium’s gay bashing.

        Will the election campaign set back the Freethought and GBLT movements?

  • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb

    As a dweller of Houston, I just wanted to point out that we’re the largest city in the USA to have an openly homosexual mayor, Annise Parker.  Just for the record.

    • JimmyMack

      Just for the record:
      The Texas state Constitution that says, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being“.

      The Houston GBLT community block voted in good, strong numbers to elect her. We are proud of the job she is doing. She is not an atheist, however.

      “one out’a two ain’t bad”. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Try being gay, godless, and black…in Arkansas. :sigh:
    This is great for the secular LGBT crowd in Houston. Great idea. I’d love to be a part of this community.

  • Greisha

    Why gay-theists?  It rather should be gatheists.


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