March 7, 2013

Anti-gay bigotry leads to dead children

I just came across some literature by sex columnist, speaker, and podcaster Dan Savage. Here's the gist: after hearing an interview of Savage about his It Gets Better campaign, someone wrote to him criticizing his ill regard toward "people of faith" and saying that although she doesn't support gay marriage, she would never encourage bullying of LGBT children. Quite hypocritical, if you ask me.

Savage's opening line is priceless and spot on:
I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I'm not. Gay kids are dying. So let's try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.
As someone who was brought up as a Catholic, Savage particularly criticizes churches and other religious organizations for their promotion of bigotry towards homosexuals like himself, both within their own congregations and in the general political and social sphere. He doesn't hold back:
And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools.
And he doesn't go easy on the more liberal Christians, either.
I'm sick of tolerant, accepting Christians whispering to me that "we're not all like that." If you want to change the growing perception that "good Christian" means "anti-gay"—a perception that is leading many people to stop identifying themselves as Christian because they don't want to be lumped in with the haters—stop whispering to me and start screaming at them.
Dan does a great job at articulating something I find very frustrating (and gay people find infuriating) about the way our society talks about and views sexual orientation. For whatever reason it is still acceptable to be bigoted against LGBT people, when other bigotries (based on race, gender, etc.) no longer are. Someone brought up to me the idea that race and gender are clearly observable traits, while sexual orientation is not. That makes it very easy to draw the conclusion that while African Americans were born African American, gay people had a choice in the matter and could have elected to be straight. Obviously not true, but that could somewhat explain the acceptance of so much hatred.

That acceptance has very real consequences:
You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we're seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Sure, LGBT issues being mainstream is pretty new. But social change should be rapid. Once we as a society realize that something we've been doing is wrong, we shouldn't delay in correcting it. The more slowly we move, the more kids will die.

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