No, Mr. Barber: An Open Letter To An Anti-Gay Hate Group Leader

The conservative Christian website WND.com published “an open letter to ‘gay’ teens” written by Matt Barber (yes, he’s one of those people who puts “gay” in quotation marks). Barber is an attorney and the vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, an offshoot that evolved from the late Jerry Falwell‘s Moral Majority.

Matt Barber

After Barber introduces himself as a follower of Jesus Christ (as if anybody had any doubts), he addresses the reader as he would one of his three children, or so he says:

I love you. I neither judge you nor condemn you. I accept you and I would die for you.

But you are not “gay.”

Yes, you may be physically attracted to people of the same sex, but how you act on those attractions is entirely your choice. Who you are — your identity — is not defined by your sexual feelings, temptations or behaviors. The difference between who you are and what you feel or do is as the difference between night and day.

No, Mr. Barber.

My sexual and emotional and romantic feelings are inextricably linked to my identity as a gay person. Regardless of my actions, this is who I am. Does your connection to your wife not contribute in some way to who you are? And since when does “what you feel” not significantly affect “who you are,” whether or not the feelings in question are sexual?

He continues:

Here is who you are: You are a wonderful, beautiful, precious human being created in the image and likeness of the one righteous and Holy God of the universe.

You are priceless.

But you are flawed — you are a sinner.

I am flawed — I am a sinner.

We are all flawed sinners — corrupted beings in a corrupted world. We are all tempted by sin.

Those temptations manifest themselves in different ways for each of us. We are all on equal footing, however, as to how we react to those temptations.

Homosexual behavior is always wrong — demonstrably and absolutely wrong.

No, Mr. Barber.

You do not have the right to call someone “beautiful and precious” and “demonstrably and absolutely wrong” in the same breath. You do not have the right to force your own bigoted “moral code” on unwilling participants. I know I am a wonderful, beautiful and precious person, Mr. Barber, and I know also that I am flawed; but my identity is not wrong. It’s just me. And in case this wasn’t already clear, it’s about more than behavior.

He then goes on to cite the same crop of vague, winding Biblical passages that most Christians interpret as denouncing homosexuality. But the kicker is when he claims that LGBT teens’ feelings of depression, isolation, or desperation are not a result of discrimination, stigma, and outward homophobia. Nope; gay kids do that to themselves by being gay, Barber writes:

God’s word also says that when we sin sexually, it’s particularly egregious because our bodies are the temple of Christ. This separation from God — a natural result of sexual sin — can lead to depression and even despair.

If you feel such despair, know this: it is not “homophobia” causing it, as adult enablers might tell you, but, rather, it is the sin itself that causes it (or struggling alone, absent Christ, with the temptation to sin).

You are being used. Adult homosexual activists with a political agenda are using you as a pawn to achieve selfish goals in a dangerous political game.

You’re just a means to an end.

No, Mr. Barber.

Homophobia is real, and it’s vicious. This is why LGBT teens are so much more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts than their heterosexual peers. This has been proven time and time again. Why would anyone bring that upon themselves, Mr. Barber? And how exactly is an “adult homosexual activist” different from a 17-year-old gay person? At what point does an LGBT teen morph into the apparently demonic “homosexual activist” from whom we should apparently hide our children?

And finally, intertwined with a hoard of phony statistics about HIV/AIDS and other “natural consequences” of homosexuality, he reminds all the sad gay kids out there that only Jesus can set them free:

Love without truth is hate.

If you continue down this wide, empty path, make no mistake: it will not “get better.”

It gets much, much worse

Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp. This is true not because of your so-called “sexual orientation,” but, rather, it is true in spite of it.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Kids, take your sexual confusion — your struggle with sin — to Christ.

No one else can give you rest.

No, Mr. Barber.

That’s not how it works. For starters, your fake statistics about the higher death rate of gay men have been proven false, and you’re only hurting your own reputation by repeating them. (Not that your reputation is all that stellar to begin with.) Furthermore, I’d appreciate it if you would stop using quotation marks around words like “gay,” “coming out,” and “sexual orientation.” You have a sexual orientation, too, Mr. Barber. I’m guessing it’s straight, or you wouldn’t be such an insensitive, ignorant jerk. Plus, your Jesus sure sounds like he contradicts himself a lot, doesn’t he?

Finally, Mr. Barber, while coming into your own sexual orientation or gender identity can sometimes be confusing, being gay is not synonymous with “sexual confusion.” It’s not chosen, forced, or able to be scared away by a higher power. Being gay is just that: a way of being. Until you wake up and realize it, your belief system and those who share your backwards views will fall faster and faster into obscurity, and we will all be better for it.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a recent college graduate working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Ian Coley

    Well done as always, Camille.

  • TheBlackCat13

    Great post!

    One quibble:

    “I’m guessing it’s straight, or you wouldn’t be such an insensitive, ignorant jerk.”

    I am not sure the data really backs up this assumption. Seems like a fair share of people like this end up being closeted themselves. Not that this is an excuse, it just shows the sort of self-loathing these sorts of religious beliefs engender.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cberedjick Camille Beredjick

      Haha, I totally hadn’t thought of this. You’re very right.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

        honey, do you read “joemygod?” you should. he’s won a bunch of awards and is a gay NYC blogger. i’ve been reading him for years.

        we’ve got a fun community over there, and it needs more women. mostly, it’s older gay guys like Joe (Jervis).

        anyway, the comments can be very informative and funny, and one thing we all agree upon: “Bam Bam” as he is called over there, is a closet case. have you seen that wrist? i know, i know, i shouldn’t do the stereotypes, but still. this one sets off the gaydar like few others.

        i am not a scholar of sexuality, but i’d bet there are scientific studies about this. she who protests the loudest is the most deeply in La Closet. this has been proven true over and over with members of the right.

        every time i read one of Bam Bam’s posts all i can think of is how he seems to be giving herself a pep talk to help stay in the closet. “i love myself. jeebus loves me. i love my wife. i can get it up the next time she wants me to make love to her. i won’t look at gay porn. i won’t.”

        so pathetic. and even if he really is “straight” he’s still pathetic.

        remember this simple rule: straight people think about opposite sex. people who spend a great deal of time thinking about homosexual sex are… rhymes with “may.”

        • Randy

          Aging, underemployed, dyspeptic lesbian who has “reclaimed” “queer” and “dyke” thinks JMG commenters are informative and funny, when they’re really just a pack of bitches – but they’re certainly as clever as you.

          You’re boring, grating and dull as mud. Shouldn’t you be posting photos of herbs on flikr?

          You calling someone else pathetic. That’s rich.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

            this is coming from a guy named “Randy?”

            Honey, you need to take a flashlight to your own asshole and find a clue.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Got some massive projection going on there, Randy. You might want to see someone about that.

          • indorri

            What’s wrong with herbs?

    • Anon

      Or he could just be a straight guy who hates gay people.

      • TheBlackCat13

        I never said that wasn’t possible. I am just saying the fact that someone expresses hatred towards gays does not tell you whether the person is gay one way or the other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.potter.73 Matt Potter

    Religious bigotry is once again still bigotry.

  • Thanks I think

    I hate the whole “It’s not a choice” argument gay-rights groups make sometimes, because as a bisexual I definitely DO choose same-sex as often as I feel like it. At least you don’t throw us under the bus in this letter like I was expecting!

    • JohnnieCanuck

      I would have thought that you would at any one point, pick the most attractive person who was interested in you. Are you saying you decide in advance of meeting anyone just which gender is in favour for the next while?

      My mostly hetero understanding of the resentment some gays express towards bisexuals is that gays don’t get to choose. It’s the part where some people flaunt their ability to be hetero whenever they feel like it that creates the friction.

      • Little Magpie

        Hey Johnnie. I am also someone who considers herself bi. I would say that just as with anything else in life, different people experience it differently. I imagine there are people who feel equal attraction to both (all?) genders at all times; my lived experience is that at some periods of my life I have been mainly into women, and at some periods of my life I have been mainly into men. And it shifts for no particular reason I can pinpoint. So for me, one gender may be in favour at any given time, but it’s not by conscious decision.

    • Edmond

      But it’s still not a choice, not even for you. If you are bisexual, you didn’t “choose” to be bisexual, and you cannot choose to STOP being bisexual and be attracted to only one gender. You merely have a wider range of partnership candidates to choose from than the rest of us, but we ALL have the ability to choose from our slate of candidates, whether it’s a long list or a shorter one. But you can’t choose to work ONLY from the shorter list, and suddenly expect that, by choice, the candidates from the longer list will no longer appeal to you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cberedjick Camille Beredjick

      I consider myself bi as well, but I sometimes use “gay” as an umbrella when I’m saying something that I think applies to more than just fellow bi folks. But I think what you’re saying also supports the “it’s not a choice” argument because you can choose your partners, but not your feelings. Right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/trike.pilot.9 Trike Pilot

        The bi orientation sometimes gets lost in the chatter. It is easier for a straight or gay person to resolve their feelings with the idea that their preferred attraction, whatever it may be, is the only way they could have turned out and thus is not a choice. They feel it deep inside because there is only one attraction pulling on them. Growing up bi is so much more confusing because those kids do not understand the difference between their choices and attractions.

      • Moral indignation

        Well what I’m really trying to get at is that there is a sub-argument that implies that if people have a choice, the more moral thing to do is to choose opposite gendered relations. I’ve had people tell me “You like both, so make the right choice”. When people fall into the argument of whether it’s a choice or not, it gives the implication that whether it’s a choice MATTERS, which only helps perpetuate the idea that there is one option that is better or more correct than the other.

        But I guess the FA community deemed my comment so horrible that it warranted negative votes? Calm down people I didn’t say anything horrible or offensive. Yeesh.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          i think you are misinterpreting the true nature of the “choice” argument and why people use it.

          i do feel your pain, as a bisexual. a lot of ‘Mos are very hostile to bi folk. it can be tough. this is something the homosexual community needs to address.

          however, the “choice” argument is primarily a weapon for the haters, and must be opposed. you are what you are. Hemant is what he is. i am what i am, and we were all born this way. there are also people who are fluid, and can transition in terms of attraction over the course of their lives. and that’s OK too.

          but the “choice” argument implies that gays and queers are “choosing” to “go against gawd.” and that such is somehow wrong. we must not give them ammo in that debate.

    • Stev84

      The reason it’s a bit questionable is because it really shouldn’t matter whether it’s a choice or not. It’s not harming anyone after all. But sometimes it’s still a useful argument. Especially legally.

    • Friendly_Autist

      You did not choose the be bi, though. Your choosing the same sex, in this specific case, is no different than a straight person choosing a certain person of the opposite sex.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yes, but you didn’t *choose* to be open to both sexes. You didn’t randomly decide one day that you were just going to like both men and women. That’s how you were born.

      That’s what the “not a choice” mantra means.

      Nobody is throwing us Bisexuals under the bus.

  • http://twitter.com/Grrrowler Todd

    I sometimes wish there were a god, only so that s/he could give bigots like Barber a big laugh and kick in the butt after they die.

  • Pawel Samson

    I don’t even want to think about how many creepy wingnuts emailed this WND article to their gay teenage relatives.

    • Friendly_Autist

      That happens to my cousin a lot (not from my side of his family). He shows them to me and we chuckle. I get excited when he says “My aunt sent me another anti-gay thing.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1199783929 Jonathan Duran

    He sounds like he’s trying to convince himself more than anyone else :) Let’s check back with him in 5-10 years when he’s caught in a gay affair.

  • smrnda

    Sorry to break it to this guy, but romantic relationships are a huge part of our lives, and what sort of person you want to be with is a pretty big part of who anybody is; it’s not a ‘preference’ like whether or not you want cream in your coffee.

    I’d also like to add that plenty of people are not struggling with same sex attraction. They are happy to be who they are and not fight their own nature, and as society has become more accepting, it’s become easier for them to live happily since they don’t have to put up with as much bullshit from society.

  • fsm

    I love you. I neither judge you nor condemn you. I accept you and I would die for you.

    But you are not “Christian.”

    Yes, you may feel superior to others, but how you act on those feelings is entirely your choice. Who you are — your identity — is not defined by your Pastor,
    temptations or behaviors. The difference between who you are and what
    you feel or do is as the difference between night and day.

    ftfy Mr. Barber

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1220871538 Alan Eckert

    Thank you for writing this. When I read this letter, I began to cry. I didn’t cry for myself or because my feelings were hurt. I am very comfortable with myself. No, I cried for those kids whose parents would read this and feel ok for demonizing gay kids. “Christian love™” by the spokespeople does not even come close to how regular people express what they equate as the same thing.

    Language and actions like these are dangerous. This fosters hate in those parents of gay kids. Because of this fostered hate, many kids are kicked out of their homes, damaged psychologically, or both. This is a major contributor to the large percentage of homeless kids who are LGBT, a proportion that does not come close to the actual proportions in the population.

    Fostered hate leads to foster children. I cried for these children.

  • jackietrinity

    I feel so sad for Christian teens who read this. Just imagine how you would feel if you were told “Your feelings are okay, just don’t act on them.” You don’t choose who you fall in love with. You can choose not to act on those feelings of attraction, leading to a lonely, frustrated life. No wonder these poor kids often feel like their only choice is suicide.

  • Anon

    Dear Mr. Barber
    A response from a gay teen.

    What I choose to do with my sexuality is approximately 0% of your business. Who I choose to share my sexuality with is approximately 0% of your business.

    You want to know what makes me depressed? You. You make me sad and angry. People like you who seem to think that because they believe something it is a. true and b. means they get to inform other people that they are wrong, flawed or in any way need fixing.

    I have been in same sex relationships. I have yet to contract any kind of STD and there is no chance of an unwanted pregnancy. Strangely enough, I cannot say the same thing about my heterosexual friends.

    I am not a pawn. I am not flawed. I do not need fixing. I am a human being and I will love who I choose.

    • indorri

      Please know that you are supported and that I am happy you have not let vitriol like Barber’s lead you to doubt your worth.

      • Anon

        Thank you

        It’s quite funny, further down the page there’s a comment some bigot made about wanting to help the millions of people who are ‘suffering’ from homosexuality.

        It’s funny because for me, ‘suffering’ appears to mean being happier than I have been. Which I can attribute mostly to being an atheist and telling people that I’m a lesbian.

        Because when my friends responses were mostly variations on ‘that’s cool’ and my mum was just as chilled out about it, it takes the weight off. Even if I live in a fairly accepting part of England rather than some oppressive town in the Bible Belt, it’s still a worry that you’re going to lose friends or family over it.

        There were outliers, there were people I’ve known for quite a long time that I’m no longer friends with because of things they said but on the whole it was much more positive than I expected. The people I cared about the most, the ones I wanted to come through for me but was most worried about, came through.

        And I hope that anybody else who is in a similar situation can read this and know that it really does get better. The people who care about you will come through for you.

    • SphericalBunny

      Dear Anon,
      Rite moar!,
      (Seriously, that was awesome.)
      Fin.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/skeletaldropkick Skeletal Dropkick

    Eating shellfish is always wrong — demonstrably and absolutely wrong. If you continue down this wide, empty path, make no mistake: it will not “get better.”

    It gets much, much worse…

    Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp. This is true not because of your so-called “shellfish orientation,” but, rather, it is true in spite of it.

    Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

    Kids, take your shellfish confusion — your struggle with sin — to Christ.

    No one else can give you rest.

  • Pattrsn

    At least he cleared up the Christian sex obsession. Sexual sins are especially sinful because they are sins of the body, unlike say gluttony, which is a sin of the err body.

  • nazani

    Yes, the Bible says that homosexuals are “flawed.” It also has a laundry list of other people who are just as flawed, or “dogs,” or deserving of extermination. Why doesn’t Mr. Barber remind the NAACP about what the Bible says about dark-skinned people? There’s a lot of people with various behaviors and ethnicities he should be condemning before he gets around to the relatively small number of gay teens.

  • beadknitter

    Sometimes I wonder if these religious leaders are gay themselves but don’t understand that. They talk about having sexual attraction to the same sex as something normal that you’re not supposed to act on. Just a thought.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.bullock.54 Chris Bullock

      Just look at how many of those who make their platform on an anti-gay message have been caught in gay affairs over the past few years.
      He protests too much, methinks.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Evangelical Christian marriage is a creepy concept and yes, it is a
    CHOICE that can lead to depression and despair as indicated by the high
    divorce rate among Christians. No one has to live that way, Mr. Barber.
    You know…having to fight for fact and intellectual growth against a
    rising tide of ignorance and religious hegemony and sanitized
    revisionist textbooks that insult everyone’s understanding and sucker punch your sexuality and bleed your mind dry.
    You don’t have to follow an Evangelical agenda that instructs that you
    please keep your mouth shut and blindly
    believe in the same bitter God as everyone else, and by the way please
    bury your true sexuality and get married at 23 and pop out six kids and
    become quickly and quietly miserable and gain 30 pounds and stop having
    sex entirely and get divorced at 50 and wake up just in time to watch
    yourself die. Adult Christian activists are using you, Mr. Barber, as a
    pawn to achieve selfish goals in a dangerous political game. I’m just
    sayin’ this ’cause, “love without truth is hate”. Yes?

  • cipher

    You are a wonderful, beautiful, precious human being created in the
    image and likeness of the one righteous and Holy God of the universe.

    You are priceless.

    But you are flawed — you are a sinner.

    So does that mean God is a flawed sinner?

    I’d post this comment at WND, but no one there would understand it. In order to register at that site, one has to provide evidence of the lack of a functioning brain stem.

  • Mario Strada

    You you thought that Mr. Barber’s article was vile, wait until you get to read the comments below his article. There are a couple of commenters that make Barber look like a gay activist by comparison.

    More specifically, there is one poster that keeps repeating his vile belief that he is fighting against LGBT rights because he loves them so much but he knows that being gay will shorten your life by 20 years (A belief he is basing on a study from the late 80′s when those figures were valid but even the authors of the study have discredited those that keep using them 20 years + later).

    This person is one of the most vile, pedantic, obtuse people I ever had the misfortune to read.
    The ridiculous bullshit this guy kept on spewing offended me to the core, it made me want to reach to him through the Intertubes and grab him by the neck.
    And I don’t believe in violence and I am not gay!
    I can only imagine the effect of his prose on a younger person still searching for their sexuality and identity.

    I don;t suggest you engage him, it’ll be a waste of time and others, even other Christians have done a pretty good job of countering his statements. I sure which I didn’t read it either. He makes arguments that I never thought a functioning human being would be able to make in our society. I think the WBC would be appalled by this guy comments (No, they wouldn’t. Probably they’d love every single word of it. Just exaggerating).

    • cipher

      The amount of mental illness and stupidity in this country is staggering. Even at 56 years of age, I’m still astonished by it. It’s destroyed what little hope I had for the future.

      I’ve become convinced we need to be more selective about who is allowed to vote.

  • indorri

    As a former gay child, no former adult, I have to disagree with Barber (no Mr., he’s not warranted the respect.)

  • trj

    I neither judge you nor condemn you.

    No, you just like to tell people they’re leading fundamentally wrong and wretched lives. Not judgmental at all.

  • Georgina

    So this is where ‘tolerance’ gets you, either:
    a) condoning evil (defined as someone hurting someone else);
    or
    b) having the arrogance to think that other peoples’ lives are any of your business.

    Let us make 2013 the year that tolerance dies and MYOB becomes the favoured buzzword.

  • CJ

    “Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp”

    Oh really, if no human can fully grasp it, then what makes you and every other believer so special that you can speak about it as if you have a “grasp” on it? Why do Christians flock to churches every week if they can’t fully “grasp” it? They hypocrisy is thick!!!

  • http://bsoi.st/ bsoist

    > I love you. I neither judge you nor condemn you. I accept you and I would die for you. But you are not “gay.”

    I read this to my daughter, and she wondered “so, who is the letter to then?”

  • cipher

    You are a wonderful, beautiful, precious human being created in the image and likeness of the one righteous and Holy God of the universe.

    You are priceless.

    Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp

    But if you don’t respond to that love in the manner he prefers, he’ll torture you for all of eternity. You think that’s unfair? Too bad! He created you; he can do whatever he likes with you!

    I am flawed — I am a sinner.

    We are all flawed sinners — corrupted beings in a corrupted world.

    I am sick to death of these lunatics projecting their pathological self-image onto the rest of humanity and their internalization of their abusive parents onto the universe. I refuse to be held hostage to their fractured psyches. It’s beyond time to take the country back from them and drive them back into the margins of society where they belong, where they festered for generations until their leadership got them all riled up in the late seventies in order to rally them for Reagan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/potorch John Perkins

    as much as it pains me to even tangentially agree with anything that kind of person says, I tend to also believe that people have too much of their identity wrapped up in their sexuality. of course, I also believe that people have to much of their identity wrapped up in pretty much anything they associate with. the rest of his message is worse than garbage though.


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