07 December 2008

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

All right, Mormons. Every one of you who fears "the gay agenda" or sees any degree of homosexuality as a threat to The Plan, every one of you who's ever called something "gay" in a general sense as a putdown (and that means most people between ages 10 and 25 in the Church right now), every one of you who fears public school indoctrination of Our Innocent Little Ones with stories of princes marrying princes, or of the Church being sued for not permitting gay marriages in temples, every one of you at BYU who opposes any public mention of homosexuality that isn't pejorative. Listen up. I'm about to tell you why all of that is just a distraction, and who you should really be scared of. Believe me, it ain't who you think.

Will and Grace, Ellen, Brokeback Mountain, candlelight vigils and marches in front of temples, all of the screaming, yelling dykes on bikes, the limp-wristed, aggressively gender-bending thong-wearing RuPaul wannabes and mincing teabags who march in Gay Pride parades—these are no real threat to you. They are an extreme fringe that gets media attention out of all proportion to their numbers. They are not your enemy. Getting all worked up over them is like picking a fight with an inflatable weighted Bozo the Clown punching bag. It'll tire you out, they won't go away, and they won't have any real effect on your life either.

For anybody who's even remotely homophobic, who believes that being gay is a choice and that their precious youth could be "persuaded" into adopting it, who believe that "the gays" are out to destroy their families, the real threat is elsewhere. Who and what is it?

Drum roll please.

The real threat to you is every gay or bisexual person, whether in the Church or not, who does not gender-bend. Who is not in-your-face militant about gay rights 24/7. Who is or has been married (regardless of genders). Who has kids or wants them. Who has a good job and tries to do it well and responsibly. Who doesn't sleep around, cruise the bars and abuse drugs or alcohol, and who tries to live an honest, ethical, decent life according to the Golden Rule. Who watches and plays sports as well as loving some of the arts. Who tries to be tolerant and respectful of others, and who tries to make life better for themselves and everyone around them. AND, by the way, just also happens to be attracted to persons of the same gender.

People like that—they are the biggest threat you face. Do you know why? It's because all homophobia depends on irrational judgments and stereotypes. It's easy to catcall and hoot and pick fights with a depersonalized stereotype, even one that actually happens to be a living, breathing person. No problem to indulge some self-righteousness there, some complacency, some sense of virtuous defense of The Kingdom against the encroaching Destroyers Of All We Hold Traditional and Dear.

But what if you suddenly found out that your best friend from high school, or the guy you played football with, or served a mission with, or the woman you worked in Relief Society with, whose temple wedding you attended, whose career you envied, whose kids you know, whose testimony you've heard in church—what if you suddenly discovered one day that they've actually been gay all along? What if you discovered that your kids' new playmates, who are bright and cheerful and well-behaved and apparently doing great, come from a home with two daddies or two mommies? What if it's your son or daughter who you've watched growing up and whose heart you know to be good and faithful and true?

Suddenly all the neat, simple, easy black and white categories of your prior judgmental life don't seem so easily applied anymore, do they. These aren't the abrasive, foul-mouthed, boozed-up, AIDS-flaunting cartoon characters you've imagined storming The Gates of Zion at Satan's bidding. These are good, decent people that you know and love, who you've seen are trying to do and be their best. When you see that someone can be and do all the "normal" things you approve of and which you yourself also love and support, and they can also be gay--oops. Suddenly something doesn't compute anymore.

Light and truth are toxic to the mold and fungus of prejudice. So anybody who wants to continue clinging comfortably to their beliefs that The Gays Are Coming To Get Us had better avoid any possibility of finding out who in their circle of apparently normal, average, ordinary family and friends is gay. Because chances are there's somebody who qualifies. Somebody you love, somebody you've always thought was just a "regular person." And who would thus seriously threaten your carefully constructed house of fantasy cards that shelters your favorite myths about Those People. Nothing angers a person more than to be shown irrefutably that one of their precious prejudices is wrong. So if you don't want to have your world rocked like that, then do your best to keep the blinders on. Because your real enemy may be a lot closer than you think.

Of course, if you can weather such a discovery with some calm common sense and the charity that Christ commands us all to have, you may just discover that there was never anything to fear in the first place. And you might find yourself not only rid of an imagined enemy, but of a crippling prejudice as well. Funny how that works sometimes.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! I really don't have anything to say other than I loved this post.

Sarah said...

so..., sorry to be so blunt here (because I understand your situation) but do you consider yourself to be one of the threats you speak of? If so, how are you going to reconcile it?

Just curious.


Nice post, BTW.

Bravone said...

Alan, so well said. Thank you. I posted on another blog today that I believe that most discrimination is rooted in ignorance.
Sorry, I don't know how to do the link thing yet. His general idea was that we have the responsibility to stand up and be counted and take responsibility for our own futures by helping to breakdown the stereotypes existing in our society.

I really appreciate those who have taken the brave steps to come out, step up and be counted. I hope we will show each other the respect and tolerance we want from others as each of us makes that journey out of the closet.

Thank you so much for this excellent post.

Alan said...

I honestly didn't focus on any one person, Sarah. This post emerged from months of thought, watching, reading, hearing of case after case in which prejudice often began to melt away when personal reality could no longer be avoided. I hoped to convey that the enemy isn't the gay person, it's the fear and the prejudice and the erroneous judgments. The truth will be fatal to those things, for anyone whose heart is in the right place.

Sarah said...

I hope you could sense the teasing in my comment. ;) I think you are making a difference just by being a part of this blog community, even if your circumstances make it difficult to be "out" otherwise. I really appreciate your opinions and sincerely liked your post, because I am actively seeing the results you speak of just from Scott being out. We've definitely given people something to think about.

I was actually grateful today for our bishop. He recognized our son in sacrament meeting for being baptized yesterday. I thought it was nice that the bishop threw in the comment "He was baptized yesterday by his father." It's obvious to ward members that Scott still attends church and participates and such, but I've wondered how many people are quietly wondering if he is worthy to be there. The bishop's simple comment made a huge statement in this regard, I believe.

Romulus said...

Insightful, amusing, and true :)

Z i n j said...

Great Stuff....as always. Wish I had your talent. Stay Kool

Mike said...

Alan, I love your writing. You are able to read between the lines of all of the crap that goes on and bring to light the real problem at the heart of disturbance. Thank you for sharing your insight with us.

Unfortunatley I am afraid that some black and white folks would blindly disagree with you about not needing to fear the 'poster gays' that have caused so much of the rift that we experience, and because of their disagreement they would discredit the rest of your post.

The bigotry is the root of the problem.

I wish there was a remote control to life where we could simply push a button to shut someone up and open up their mind to see a different light to something that they so blindly refuse to consider that there are valid views for both sides of the issue. I really don't know of any other way for them to shut up and consider different views, until their loved one turns out to be gay.

That will happen when someone in their immediate family will open up about their homosexuality, but I am afraid that so many are not willing to come out in the open like Scott so bravely has, and this progress will continue to be slow.


Robert said...

Hahaha, rock on Alan. Well said. I love it.

Grant Haws said...

Such a true post! I think what scares people about homosexuality is all the people just like them that are gay. It scares them because we are just like them, we just are attracted to the same gender instead. Not too terrifying to us, but mortifying to them. Good work!

Brad Carmack said...

Great post, thanks!