Monday, January 23, 2012

Hate the Gays? Imagine the World Without Us

via Huffpost Gay Voices, by Kergan Edwards-Stout

In our current political discourse, right-wing politicians continue to demonize the LGBT community in sad and desperate attempts to rally their base.

While, happily, their efforts have not been as effective as in the past, any attempt to make gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people feel anything less than equal can lead to devastating consequences, as the ongoing string of youth suicides so painfully highlights.

Any preventable loss of dignity and human life must be stopped. The question is, "How?"

While prior efforts have focused on the issue of harassment, it is time for the LGBT community to take the dialogue one step further.

When you are a teen, simply waiting for your next birthday can seem like an eternity. Telling our youth that life will indeed get better, some years into the future, is not enough.

We must instead create a world in which there is no longer any shame in being gay. We must show that each and every one of us has something of value to contribute to this world, period.

The first step is creating discussion with the haters around where their anti-gay beliefs come from, and challenging those beliefs with facts.

But we then need to take that dialogue even further and examine more closely what they hope that such convictions will ultimately achieve.

Typically, those who hold negativity toward those who are LGBT can be placed into two main camps: those who believe that being gay is unnatural, going against nature, or those who believe it goes against religious teaching.

With either group, the case can be made to counter such beliefs with facts.

For example, those who believe that being gay is unnatural may be surprised to learn that homosexual activity has been observed in close to 1,500 species, and that such scientific certitudes should be spotlighted. For those who believe that homosexuality violates religious principles, pointing to texts such as the Bible as justification, and dialogue around translation issues, intent, and historical context, might be beneficial.

However, in both situations, while factual evidence might change some minds, most will still be unwilling to let go of long-held beliefs.

My question to them then becomes, "What do you hope these beliefs will achieve?"

Most have never looked holistically at their views, nor tried to fit their beliefs into a larger framework. They were simply told by others that being gay is less than ideal, for whatever reason, and have not challenged that assumption.

If they truly believe that being gay is a sin or abnormal, what then? Does that mean they support the harassment of LGBT individuals?

Do they hope to "convert" LGBT folks to heterosexuality, which no reputable medical or psychological association supports or validates, even going so far as to consider such "conversion therapies" potentially harmful?

Do they want us to remain celibate and single, never experiencing love and affection? Do they wish LGBT people would simply disappear?

If anything, they are creating an environment where gay youth feel that suicide is preferable to life.

But imagine, for a moment, that there were no LGBT people on the planet. Just what would this world look like?

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