Good Friends, Or Socially Maladjusted Cretins?

Here’s a letter recently in:

Dear John,

First of all, your posts on all things Christian has me hooked as a fan; reading them is always enlightening. Which is why I want to share something with you.

As a gay college student living in Southeast Asia, I am always discreet about coming out to close friends. Last Saturday, two guy friends and I were on a drive back from lunch, when I told them about me. They didn’t know yet of my sexual orientation, and I felt guilty for not being honest with them.

When I told them, one of my friends caught me totally unaware with a question.

“Do you want to change?” he said.

“No. I accept who I am.”

“Well, do you want a family?”

“Of course, yes—with children. It just means there’ll be no wife in the picture: just me and my husband.”

“If you want a family,” said my other friend, “why don’t you marry a woman?”

“I sometimes find them hot,” I said, “but I don’t get turned on by women the way straight guys do.”

“You just need a girlfriend.”

The three of us argued for some time. My friends kept telling me that I ask for Jesus’ help, I can become straight. I told them that although it doesn’t work that way, I respected their advice, and would think about the merits of what they’d said. They then accused me of being defensive—and said that I was sure to suffer God’s wrath because of my stubbornness.

I never felt so ashamed of myself. Here I am, trying to tell my friends that being gay is not a bad thing—and all I am getting is the charge that I am too lazy to pray for change.

What should I do, John, to defend myself in such a situation—or, better, to make sure such a situation won’t come up again?

Dear young man who wrote me this:

Thanks for sharing this problem with me and us. Affording us such a glimpse into your life helps us know more about our own.

As I’m guessing you already know, coming out to people sometimes causes them to freak out a little. Quite often they soon enough thereafter settle down, though, and become okay with what, to them, is the new you. Sometimes the person coming out just has to wait for that uncomfortable storm to pass. It’s unfortunate that people tend to need that adjustment period, but, let’s face it: we humans aren’t the swiftest group in the world.

Wait. I guess we are.

Yikes. That can’t be good.

Actually, bees seem to be the big geniuses of the planet, don’t they?

Anyway, sorry. Back to your friends.

I hope they come around; I hope they already have. The bottom line, though, is that a gay person coming out soon learns that, like all people, they have two kinds of friends: true friends, and faux-friends. A true friend of yours loves, and wants to be in relationship with, the person you really are. A faux-friend of yours loves, and wants to be in relationship with, the person they need you to be.

When push comes to shove, a true friend puts you, and your needs, ahead of themselves; but a faux-friend puts themselves, and their needs, ahead of you.

Your friends blew it; they definitely proved themselves—at least during that car ride—to be your faux-friends. They made your coming out to them about them: about their needs, their comfort level, their convictions. That’s a giant Friend Fail, for sure. When you come out to your friends, it’s supposed to be all about you. Period.

The couple of times I had friends come out to me, you know what I did? I shut the [bleep] up. I listened. My singular concern immediately became hearing every last word they cared to say. And there’s nothing special about me. That a person coming out to you deserves your full attention and respect is something known by everybody.

Everybody, that is, except for people like your “friends”—who, predictably, are Christian.

*sigh*

My fellow Christians: Please at least have the class to let people come out without immediately banging them on the head with a Bible. We all understand your insipid need to be a complete dick for Jesus, but please try your best to hold off on that for a day or two, won’t you? Thanks! Sign, The Entire Universe.

There. That should do it. Problem solved!

Okay, maybe not.

Tomorrow, friend, I will share with you a thought or two relative to the idea of ensuring that the sort of moment you experienced with your friends never happens to you again.

The short of that is this: You can’t ever stop some people from being, right up in your face, socially maladjusted cretins. That’s just a law of life. What you can change, however, is how often, and how deeply, you let that bother you.

Tomorrow, then! Love to you. Tell your friends that John Shore said that they need to either evolve, or stop hanging out with people who are trying to.

 

Follow up: Low self-esteem? Pffft. Who the [bleep] are you?

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://fiosdourados.wordpress.com/ João Mattos

    Well, that was awkward, for sure.

    Waiting patiently for tomorrow’s post. I do want to see how this will turn out.

  • Ric

    My advice to someone thinking of coming out… Ask your friends if they read JohnShore.com.

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    “We all understand your insipid need to be a complete dick for Jesus, but please try and hold off on that for a day or two, won’t you?” :)

    Dear Guy Who Wrote To John: It does get better, and not everyone will react like your “friends” did. You’ll find some amazingly supportive people along the way, really.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    “When push comes to shove, a true friend puts you, and your needs, ahead of themselves; but a faux-friend puts themselves, and their needs, ahead of you.”

    This is so true, with a disclaimer. Even the best of friends can act like faux-friends at times, especially when their status-quo is challenged. I do hope that the letter writer’s friends realize that this guy is still the same person he’s always been, that nothing really has changed at all. I hope that they continue to be friends for a long time, attending each other’s weddings, celebrating births or adoptions, doing what guys usually do on a Saturday, whatever that is…I don’t know of course being a woman. I just hope that the friendship moves forward positively.

    And here’s this, no matter what letter writer, remember that you are loved, admired, respected and found to be an asset in other people’s lives. Don’t ever forget that.

    And I agree, point the friends right here. What a fantastic place that shows how expansive God’s love is and that has welcomed folks who want to learn about and share that love.

  • Jen Neale MacDonald via Facebook

    Love it! I laughed out loud and nodded in approval through out. Great answer John.

  • Paula

    “The short of that is this: You can’t ever stop some people from being, right up in your face, socially maladjusted cretins. That’s just a law of life. What you can change, however, is how often, and how deeply, you let that bother you.”

    Oh, so many of us will be tuning in tomorrow for wisdom about this. Preach!

  • zoni

    My advice? In the future, don’t come out in a car, train, plane, or any other enclosed area where you are “trapped” with the people you’re talking to for a long period of time. That way, if it goes badly, you can calmly walk away and give them time to process what you’ve told them. Your friends clearly weren’t prepared to discuss this topic on that car trip, and fell back on what made them comfortable (at your expense). I’m just glad their reaction wasn’t to kick you out of the car and leave you stranded (the worst-case scenario that immediately popped into my mind when reading your story). As with all things in life: Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. ;)

  • Drew

    “Dick for Jesus”…very funny. I think this needs to be on a t-shirt.

    • Tina Stover

      I agree…that is definitely a laugh out loud moment for me today!!

    • LSS

      but the people who need to wear that warning might not buy the shirt?

    • LSS

      wait, it should be “schmuck for Jesus” … for possibly obvious reasons.

      • Chris

        Thank you, LSS, for a laugh on an afternoon when I really needed one!

  • Michael Davis via Facebook

    Good stuff John. “Insipid need to be a complete dick for Jesus…” Holy smokes that line along with the introductory quote here made my Monday. :-)

  • mike moore

    The “why don’t you marry a woman” and “you just need a girlfriend” implies that your friends believe sexual orientation is a choice. You may want to ask, “when did you decide to be straight?”

    The whole “God’s wrath” statement is in its own category. There are ways to help them evolve (John’s book is one excellent way) but be prepared that if these guys can’t support you on your spiritual journey, it may time for new friends.

    • Lymis

      While it’s a perfectly valid point, I don’t think the “when did you decide to be straight” question ever really works in practice. Very few people are as explicit about it as one of the people I first came out to, who replied, “That’s different, I’m normal,” but that’s usually what’s going on in their head. For them, normal people doing normal things the normal way don’t have to choose, or justify the choice – only those who “choose” to buck the system.

      And, similarly, since their heterosexuality is so fundamental, they literally cannot imagine being non-heterosexual, so being something else MUST be a choice – and a pretty squicky one at that.

      It’s not a bad idea to raise the point, but I wouldn’t hold out hope of it making any immediate difference.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I do think the “When did you decide to be straight?” rejoinder is extremely serviceable. It’s such an Instant Paradigm Shifter: sometimes, when people are posed that question, you get that moment where they just STAND there like a moose suddenly forgetting how to chew. You’re right, Lymis, of course: anyone resistant to the idea of homosexuality being perfectly okay is not likely to change their mind about that as the result of a … trick question. But I like the seed that question plants; I like how quickly it sinks its roots in.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          It worked the other day for me with a guy who wanted scientific proof of orientation as an inborn character trait. I said the proof is in when did you choose to be heterosexual? To which he replied that was a dumb question but the proof of when he knew he was straight was when he saw Jessica Alba in Dark Angel. Exactly, I told him. The proof is in the arousal….an autonomic system response arising at a level below that of consciousness. Asking someone to show DNA proof of an emotion is like asking them to show proof of any other subjective experience: pain, grief, joy, love. They happen to us. It is a state of being.

          He didn’t say anything else after that.

        • Lymis

          I think this may well be the result of one of the biggest overlooked differences between gay and straight people about gay rights – straight people actually can talk to people about it who are open to discussion and changing their minds.

          When I came out, I was all geared up to have lots of deep philosophical and religious conversations with people about my being gay. Crickets.

          But my friends kept reporting that they had nothing BUT conversations about it. People who didn’t want to feel stupid or look bigoted, and people who were afraid I might know what I was talking about and bust them on their BS, pretty much avoided the conversation with me.

          So the only people I actually got to talk to, other than the actual people I explicitly came out to, were either already allies, already friends, or mouth-breathing knuckle draggers impervious to reason, and whose need to berate me outweighed their social unwillingness to be rude.

          So, you’re absolutely right. I withdraw my statement that it’s not a useful conversation point as a general thing. It’s just never done me a darn bit of good.

          • LSS

            maybe it works best for allies? unfortunately, there’s a lot of arguments that are safer for allies, in practically all the categories of advocacy that i’m familiar with. like, whenever i sign something pro-immigrant i’m tempted to use my maiden name (which i dislike, so i don’t) because my married name is hispanic and i feel that i may not be taken seriously if the reader thinks i’m one of the people in question. or like how it’s easier to talk about neurological diversity before i “come out” as asperger to whatever group of people.

            i know i used it recently in an unfortunate circumstance (on an acquaintance whose friend later said he’s probably deeply closeted due to internalized homophobia, which if that’s accurate he WAS choosing to “be” straight)… but i’ve used a version of it with better luck.

            a friend of mine was telling me that she saw some kids “being gay” when they were out with their friends at the mall or something. and she thought they were “way too young to be doing that”. they were like late middle school or early high school. nothing she said indicated that they displayed a “get-a-room” level of PDA… it was probably just 2 boys holding hands while laughing together, or something along those lines.

            so i said “when we were their age, were we too young to be straight?!” at first, of course, she said “but that’s different” … but she could not show why.

            we reminisced for a while about guys we had crushes on in middle school and early high school… (come to think of it, at least two of mine turned out to be gay later, but that’s probably because i was in drama club)

            … anyway, she seemed to grudgingly accept that it wasn’t all THAT different.

          • Chris

            LSS: I agree about allies. I accepted many years ago that when certain patriarchal arguments are made, I just have to excuse myself. I can’t reasonably talk to someone making an argument that I’m not fully human because I’m female. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with male allies to step into those conversations and make the arguments that the chauvinist wouldn’t take seriously if I said them anyway.

            For that reason (among others), I go out of my way to advocate for my gay brothers and sisters every chance I get. I can hear without stress things it would hurt them to hear, and I can make arguments and be taken seriously by people unwilling to listen to them. It’s important to watch one anothers’ backs.

          • cat rennolds

            yay! Thank you both!

          • Lymis

            Amen. Thanks to you both, and to all of you out there doing the same thing!

  • Lymis

    “What should I do, John, to defend myself in such a situation—or, better, to make sure such a situation won’t come up again?”

    I’m looking forward to John’s answer, but I can give you mine. One of the things that I learned very early on in my coming out process was how eerily people mirrored back my approach to the announcement.

    If I treated it like the biggest, deepest, darkest, most monumental secret in the history of secrets, they treated it like a HUGE deal, sometimes with “I’m so honored you trusted me with this” and sometimes with the equivalent shattering rejection.

    If I treated it with essentially, “Oh, by the way, have I gotten around to mentioning I’m gay?” people were much more casual.

    And the very best, low drama way to come out was, and is, via pronouns, in an unrelated conversation. “Oh, yes, I saw that movie with a date. He loved it, but I thought it could have been better. Did you think the lead actor was doing his best work?”

    When you essentially tell someone, “Here is my heart, please feel free to stomp on it” all too often they’ll do so. If you tell someone, “this is my life, I’m living it and you really don’t get a vote” they’ll usually accommodate that, too.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in ANY conversation where someone said, in essence, “Hey, here’s a fun topic. Everyone chime in on the state of my immortal soul” that EVER went well. And far too many Christians take the announcement of being gay as exactly that invitation. The trick is not to open that door.

    I have to agree with the suggestion not to come out to people while trapped in moving vehicles with them.

    • Diana A.

      Thank you, Lymis. Again, you’re right on the money.

    • Alec

      Dear Lymis ,

      Your statement ;

      “And the very best, low drama way to come out was, and is, via pronouns, in an unrelated conversation. “Oh, yes, I saw that movie with a date. He loved it, but I thought it could have been better. Did you think the lead actor was doing his best work?” ”

      … is just great . I hope for the day that those of us who are ” straight ” can take a statement like that , and just accept it calmly , and get on with the conversation , and our lives .

      Thank God that the church I attend just ignores sexuality , and accepts each member , and constituent as they are , where they are , etc.. It makes me proud to be a part of such a congregation .

      Alec .

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    Such good advice for all of us on whom we choose to keep as friends in our lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gail316 Gail Equality Dickert via Facebook

    regarding social and emotional intelligence and quite relevant to your post: http://www.homospirituality.com/2011/12/11/social-and-emotional-intelligence-and-its-role-in-christianity/

  • Christine McQueen

    One of the reasons I love your posts so much, John, is because they so match my own thinking on most subjects. I keep sharing the links on Facebook, hoping that some family members will read them and just maybe reconsider some of their own beliefs. You can be sure I’ll be waiting to read tomorrow’s post.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, wow. Right. I should write that. Thank you, Christine McQueen, for all you do for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chrissy-Massaro-Wesner/100002297829112 Chrissy Massaro Wesner via Facebook

    hahahahahahaha!!!! I get such a laugh and a feeling of camraderie when I read your words sir. Thanks for thinking and most of all thanks for SHARING it with the Christian community. Thank you.

  • http://allpetsresortandspafl.com Lauren Phillips

    When are these so called Christians going to wake up to the fact that there is homosexuality all through nature. That is the way God intended it to be and I know my God doesn’t make mistakes. What I do know is that we are all Gods children and made in his likeness regardless of race or sexuality. Real friends will be your friend no matter what, those friends unfortunately you can probably count on one hand. Those are the real relationships that you must nurture. Forget about the people who constantly let you down and don’t accept the “Authentic You”. My feelings are life is to short to be weighed down by negative people and you must let them go, not because you hate them but because you love yourself. Good luck and live life to the fullest. Lauren

    • Soulmentor

      ****When are these so called Christians going to wake up to the fact that there is homosexuality all through nature. *****

      When they stop living in fear of knowledge and learning.

      • http://allpetsresortandspafl.com Lauren Phillips

        Soulmentor, Your so right.

  • Soulmentor

    I’ve been in phone conversations with a man in NY state. Married. Struggling with gay feelings. Fortunately, no kids. Sounds like he’s bi and can’t get the thots out of his head. Has trouble with it from the religious direction too. So last nite I turned him on to your blog, John. Hope he tunes in. His mind seems to be so churned up about his feelings….he needs some clarity of thought and I think he can find it here.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I hope so. Have him write me if you think I can help.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    Reading this article, it strikes me there’s a quick & easy solution to the problem.

    If you’re gay & Christians try to argue you out of it by telling you to pray over it, tell ‘em you have been praying but all that seems to be happening is that Satan is tempting you more & more to have sex with a hot straight Evangelical.

    Enough gays do this & the evangelicals will come around & say, “Well, y’know, maybe this gay rights thing isn’t so bad after all…okay, you can stop praying about it now.”

    Either that or you’ll make some new Evangelical friends.

  • cat rennolds

    I was very lucky in my “trapped in a car” coming out episode. I can’t call it a discussion….but you will all enjoy this, I think. I was still a teenager, riding in a truck with my dad. He was watching a girl jogger in hot pink short shorts. She was crossing the street, and as he tracked her across the windshield, I came into his field of vision and he realized I was watching her too. After a pause in which the jogger reached the sidewalk, my dad looked back in front of him and put the truck in gear, and said offhandedly, “Well, you WERE born in California.” And that’s all he ever said to me about it. Ever. It was great. He was a great guy.

    • Diana A.

      This is great! Thank you, Cat!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Love. this.

    • Cynthia Haug-West

      Best non-discussion coming-out story ever. :)

    • cat rennolds

      However.

      Also don’t come out to anyone with whom you have no choice but to get into a car with afterwards. Ten minute drive from home to school turned into parked at a curb for an hour while I got cried at, guilted, lectured, “reasoned with,” and generally emotionally destroyed. Identity withheld to protect the perpetrator, who has grown up a lot since then. Just, not my dad.

      Also, and I have no idea how to avoid this one except turn your creepy-stalker radar up on HIGH, not getting in a car with someone whose entire reason for getting you into their car is to come out to you so they can hit on you, and then threaten to drop you off in the middle of nowhere when it turns out they’re STILL not your type. (For some reason, when you’re known to be bi, people get twice as offended when you don’t want to go to bed with them. This can also be true if you’re gay, and you’re the only other gay person someone has ever met. ) Thankfully, I was raised in the middle of nowhere, and on being asked what I would do if I were dropped off, I sighted by the stars and explained I’d just have to walk about 3 miles that direction to hit the main highway. It sort of deflated the threat value.

    • mike moore

      I love knowing that sometimes the world works just the way it should.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      How awesome is that.

    • CMHValex

      Cat – that’s amazing! Your dad sounds like an amazing man.

  • http://www.45-90.com Hilary Marckx

    Dear young person, I am writing to you as an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who has currently served an Disciples of Christ Church for 18 years. I am also straight, have been married to the same woman for going on 47 years. I am white, bald, have a small pot-belly and play Rockabilly as a side job. I want you to know all this before I say anything to you, because I want you to understand where I am coming from.

    With that all out of the way, let me say this. God loves you! God made you as you are! God does not want you to apologize for who or what you are. In truth, our sexual preferences are not anybody’s business but our own! There is nothing wrong with you! However, there is plenty wrong with people, situations, systems, cultures that expect one part of the group to explain themselves to the rest of it. Your question should be to straights, When did you discover you were straight? But that question, which, by the way, is a very important one, never gets asked.

    These “friends” of yours may be friends of a sort, but they are not actual friends. I would place them as close acquaintances who you mistakenly thought you were closer to. Personally, I would lose them. It seems to me that you are a caring, loving, individual, who has an innate part to your character that wants to help and care for others. You want to be OK, and you are. Do not let others steal your joy. Do not let others make you question your sanity or your resolve. And never, ever, apologize for being an important part of God’s Creation. Also, never feel shame for yourself when others attack you for being who you are. It is they who are shaming themselves, before you and before God.

  • Sarah

    A good friend (and former roommate) had a small party in her apartment. An excellent hostess, she quietly made her way around the room talking with each of her guests. At some point in each conversation she said “I’m just having a coming-out moment”. I hope the person in the car has some nice “coming -out moments” as well.

  • Ken

    “… a faux-friend puts themselves, and their needs, ahead of you…” Which raises an interesting point. What “need”, precisely, is served when a devout Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu tells a “gay” person that they need to be “straight”? In this case where, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, does preaching the gospel trump listening to a friend?

    Why is the mere existence of homosexuality in people (and nature), or just plain old fashioned hot steamy heterosexual sex, so… worrisome (dare I say, fearsome) to some folks? I admit, I don’t get it. Personally I don’t want to know what goes on in anybody’s bedroom but my own.

    As for love? Well, yes, sometimes I’ve pulled a friend over and said, “Are you sure this one is right for you?”. But that was a people issue, not a gender issue.

    Still, maybe the “Why” is the issue, not the “Gay”. There a re plenty of other “Thou shall…” and “Thou shall nots…” that everyone happily ignores. But not this one. (Don’t even let me get started on Rick Perry’s latest ad.)

    Why?

  • http://houseofnordian.blogspot.com/ Nordian

    Dear John,

    I thank you for sharing that letter – and I’m looking forward to read the tomorrow’s post. Then I’ll be able to show them to my friends – “See, not all Christians against the gays! And here’s the proof.”

    Hilary Marckx, sdgalloway, Jenni: I appreciate your moral supports. XOXO

    cat rennolds, zoni: Lesson learned – never come out in a moving vehicle. :P

    Lymis: Casual coming out, huh? I’ll try that next time.

    Thankful as always,

    Aaron

    P.s. You’re genius, John. “…a complete dick for Jesus…” Why did I chuckled at this wrongly-sounded words?

    • CMHValex

      Aaron, stay strong. Be who you are. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should or should not be. If someone is uncomfortable with who you are, then they don’t deserve the pleasure of your company. I happen to be straight, but I know what it’s like to try to live behind a mask and meet everyone else’s expectations. It will suck the joy out of life and the life out of you. You are not the one who needs to pray for change, they are. They need to pray for the ability to accept those that are different than they are and the humility to not judge others based on what THEY see as right and wrong.

      As for you: just remember that you are special. This is not because you are gay. You are special because you are YOU and because you have the strength to stand up for who you are in the face of such adversity. I applaud your strength and wish you the best of luck.

      • http://houseofnordian.blogspot.com/ Nordian

        Dear CMHValex,

        Thank you.

        “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

        Sincerely,

        Aaron

  • Mike

    You know, I read a certain doubt into that letter. Maybe I was wrong, but I think the writer might be wondering on some level if he is, in fact, “too lazy to pray for change”.

    God could, if He wanted to, turn you straight. Or anything else.

    The writer is correct in that it doesn’t work that way. Consider this: I would really like to be able to fly without mechanical help. God could give me wings, if He wanted to. I have never prayed for wings, not because I am too lazy to pray for change, but because it doesn’t work that way.

    Hang in there.

    • http://houseofnordian.blogspot.com/ Nordian

      Dear Mike,

      Yes, years ago I’d doubt my devotions to pray for a change.

      As for today, I’m accepted the notion that it’s not about wrong prayers, or less prayers.

      You’re right – It JUST doesn’t work that way.

  • Erin D.

    “We all understand your insipid need to be a complete dick for Jesus.” OMG I am giggling like mad over here!!!

  • frenchqueen13

    “…We all understand your insipid need to be a complete dick for Jesus…”

    I nearly snorted tea through my nose reading that!

    My vote’s with “socially maladjusted cretins” with those two and their ilk. Love your writing here, Mr Shore!

  • CMHValex

    To all who have to deal with this kind of issue: remember, you DO have true friends. You may have to ditch some of the people you thought were friends, but you will still have some left, and you will make new ones. And those bonds will be even stronger because you will know each other better.

    As a straight woman, I’ve never had to come out to anyone. On the other hand, my biological mother (who I knew about since early childhood but did not get to know until I was in junior high) is a lesbian. My experience has clearly not been nearly as difficult as yours, but I can think of at least one good “friend” that I lost because she kept insisting that my mother was going to Hell. I also know several people that I never sought relationships with because they made their views quite clear.

    My mother’s homosexuality was always a sore point when it came time for summer, and I would go visit her. My father was extra careful to make sure I went to church right before going down there because he had this strange idea that she would “turn” me into a lesbian (like my obsession with Hugh Jackman left any room for doubt as to my straightness). The comments he made about her rarely explicitly said that she was less of a person because she was gay, but they sure implied it. Quite frankly, it bothered me. Because I might not have been gay, but I was different. I was the odd girl that liked to stay inside and read and watch sci-fi shows. I was the weird girl who always wore the wrong clothes and who never really fit in. If Mom, a wonderful woman who I loved and shared half of my DNA with, was less of a person because she was different, what did that make me? I didn’t dress like everyone else, I didn’t act like everyone else, and I didn’t think like everyone else. Did that mean I was a freak too?

    Even though I have never had to deal with actually questioning my sexuality, I constantly had to be careful not to look like I was gay. My dad had this idea that unicorns, dragons, and everything rainbow was a symbol of homosexuality, so I had to constantly evaluate what I wore. I couldn’t wear the cute shorts/overalls that my mother bought me because they had an embroidered dragon on them (“Does that mean everyone in China is gay?” “That’s different.”). I couldn’t collect unicorns even though I always found them beautiful in an ethereal, mythical sense. I couldn’t wear tie-dye, even though I really thought it looked awesome, because I was afraid the rainbow effect would upset Dad. I couldn’t cut my hair shorter than shoulder-length despite it being completely unmanageable long because it might look gay. I spent so much time worrying about how I looked, because I didn’t want my dad to hate me.

    And you know what? It was wrong. Dad was wrong. I shouldn’t have had to care whether or not I looked gay. Gay people shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they look gay. Because it’s not even about how you look. If people can’t respect me for who I am, then it’s a problem with them, not me. Likewise, if someone doesn’t respect you because you are different than they are, that’s their issue. Not yours. Some gay people are depraved. Some straight people are depraved. Some gay people are saints. Some straight people are saints. It has nothing to do with which gender you prefer.

  • Tony Bevan

    To the OP:

    Perhaps these friends of yours do have irreconcilably different views on homosexuality, but limiting your circle of friends to those who always share your beliefs or opinions, though it can boost self-esteem, is going to give you a lopsided understanding of the world.

    There is no indication from what you have said that they were making the discussion about ‘them’ and not about ‘you’. Let’s look at what they said a bit more closely…

    “Do YOU want to change?” he said.

    “Well, do YOU want a family?”

    “If YOU want a family,” said my other friend, “why don’t YOU marry a woman?”

    “YOU just need a girlfriend.”

    It sounds to me like your friends have recognised what they perceive as a problem -the inherent difficulties of being homosexual and trying to father/raise a family in a world where there are stringent adoption laws, no possibility of asexual or homosexual reproduction, and a wilfully intolerant society.

    Let’s say I was homosexual, and I believed in the power of prayer to bring about change, then praying to become something that leaves me less conflicted with my own desires (to have a family) and society as a whole seems like a pretty reasonable course of action.

    This is true regardless of any opinion one holds on whether homosexuality is a sin or something that is a natural and acceptable part of who you are.

    Your friends have simply put themselves in YOUR shoes, and looked to their own (perhaps misguided) beliefs about the power of prayer in order to give you what they think is the best advice they can come up with.

    I don’t think this makes them ‘faux-friends’, I think this makes them ‘true-friends’. Perhaps they will never view your sexual orientation as acceptable, perhaps they simply view it as impractical, but that doesn’t mean they can’t live with it, and it definitely doesn’t mean they don’t love you or respect you.

    If you want to avoid these kinds of situations, you have two options. You can go on a crusade to change the opinion of the unenlightened world (or perhaps your own) via philosophical discussion of the merits of science, or the inconsistencies and psychological biases found in religious doctrine. Alternatively you can simply live and let live: You don’t have to make sexual orientation the central focus of your friendship or even your life unless it becomes a problem for you. Bring it up if it is relevant to a conversation perhaps, but don’t use it as a cry for attention. If indifference to sexual preference is what you want to see in the world, then lead by example.

    • DR

      Are you putting the responsibility of creating change in this context on the victims of those who cause harm despite their good intentions. It to?


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