A wise man once said, "If it's not broke, don't fix it!" Sadly, far too many people have either forgotten that saying, or simply lack the ability to differentiate between that which is broken, and that which is not. It's like a commercial I recently saw airing on a major cable station. A woman apparently hires a young boy to hit a baseball through her window so that she will be able to replace it with a window of a different brand. My first question is, "Is one brand of windows really different from another?" I mean, I am no window connoisseur, but really. I mean, I have never walked into a room and thought to myself, that window must have cost them a fortune! Anyway, the premise of ruining something that was fine the way it is, in order to create something different is a premise that has been concerning me lately.
The other day I received a packet consisting of several magazine articles, a book, and fifteen audiotapes. No, I didn't sign up for "hooked on phonics". I apparently signed up for "hooked on breeding". See, my friend Kristin sent me this package of "Focus on the Family" literature. The materials have titles like, 'Help for the Homosexual' (not an atlas to the major fashion mecca), 'Love Must Be Tough' (not a how-to book for S&M lovers), and 'Coming Out of Homosexuality' (not a science fiction novel). As easy as it was for me to look at the information and laugh, it was much harder to sit down and read. By the time I finished, I was upset, physically ill, and extraordinarily frustrated. The materials made comments that referred to the "homosexual addiction", making me wonder if straight people have some sort of "heterosexual addiction". Yet, nowhere is it explained why one sexual orientation is normal, and the other falls into the negative stigma of an addiction.
I also read quotes that discussed how Jerry Arterburn found god "after becoming a Christian and leaving homosexuality." I was left thinking, why are the two mutually exclusive? I am a gay Christian, and I don't understand why others have such a difficult time seeing the two as a pair. Unfortunately, the literature didn't end there. A book called 'Parents in Pain' gives suggestions to help homosexual children deal with guilt, anger, frustrations and feelings of inadequacy. The method of coping, suggested by the author, is not to teach children that they are normal people with natural feelings, or to help them understand that they can lead a happy and proud lifestyle with a life partner, similar to any heterosexual person. The method advocated by John White encourages parents to tell their children that they should be guilty, angry and frustrated, because they are inadequate in the eyes of God, and must change their ways. Now, kick me if I'm wrong, but from a purely psychological standpoint, doesn't that method only allow those self-destructive feelings to fester, resulting in self-loathing and depression? Especially when one examines the fact that these children don't feel guilty because they are gay, they feel guilty because society is telling them that they shouldn't be. So rather than correcting a negative, and incorrect convention, the book advocates the reinforcement of the same stimulus eliciting the symptoms the book claims to cure.
Worse yet, is the book entitled 'Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?" In this book, by Barbara Johnson, a mother learns to cope with the crippling of her husband, the death of her two sons, and the homosexuality of her third son. I read this thinking, " how sad! Death, disease, and... homosexuality???" How do these events even compare? Her husband becomes confined to a wheelchair, never to walk again. Her son dies, only to be followed by the death of another son. Then, after all that has happened to her, she has the nerve to put her son's coming out on the same level as the previous? The world is a very sad place when a parent views their child's maturation and self-discovery in the same way as the death of that same child.
Still other books use a different route all together. Anne Paulk, a wife, mother and 'former lesbian' tells her story, in which her homosexuality stood in the way of her relationship with God. The publication CitizenLink uses this story to tell us that homosexuality will sever relations with God. They overlook the fact that Anne is saying that she let her relationships interfere with her religion, not her homosexuality. Anne says that she tried going to group meetings for GLBT students, where "she fell into a relationship with someone who quickly became a priority in her life, over work, over family and friends...over God." The gender of her partner is irrelevant. She fell into a relationship that was unhealthy, and destructive to her spiritual needs. This fact is so apparent that Anne herself doesn't even acknowledge the gender of her partner in the statement. Anne is a classic case of someone who has a need for balance, not for heterosexuality. What Anne's story can tell us, is that religion is important. What it does not tell us, is that all homosexuals disrespect God. Why then do organizations such as Focus on the Family use stories like this to wage war with the homosexual community? Anne also tells us that she felt a void in her life because she wanted a life partner, and knew that a homosexual relationship wouldn't work. That void was caused by the social construction that homosexual relationships cannot last, or cannot result in happiness and marriage. This construction has been disproved time and time again, yet the article uses the image of this void to paint the picture that homosexuality is inherently unnatural and wrong, and can only be cured by some form of heterosexuality. Is it not obvious that Anne had a lot of misinformation that was causing her to feel the void she has? Is it not also obvious that her void could have been filled with acceptance, education, and love, rather than a denial of her heart?
Another article by CitizenLink tells us that, "You might be shocked to know that most Christians who speak against homosexual behavior are motivated more by love than hate." While I do think that many of these people do have good intentions, I also feel that they are misinformed, and do not take the time to hear any side of the story but the side they have grown up with. Most gay men and women know what the bible says, and have also taken the time to talk with other pro-equality individuals who have helped them understand that being gay is not some sort of irrevocable sin that will send you straight to hell. Most gay people have taken the time to learn about the issues and have come to terms with their spirituality in coordination with their sexuality. The people who are trying to 'educate' them about religion, and change them, generally know no other viewpoint than the one they have been taught. They accept it as infallible, and do not go in search of, or accept other interpretations or reasoning.
The article also says that "studies show a high degree of destructive behavior among homosexuals, including alcohol, drug abuse, and emotional and physical violence." The description sounds like that of a country western saloon, but whatever. It goes on to say that "it even occurs in homosexual-affirming cities like San Francisco, proving that it's not based on a lack of acceptance, but the visible response to a broken heart." They speak of San Francisco as if it were a vacuum in and of itself, and that once you set foot within it's city limits, you suddenly forget all of the times you were called a fag, all the times you heard about gay bashing and violence towards homosexuals, and instantaneously forget every hetero-centric theme in any novel or TV program or children's story you ever read. The logic is so ridiculous that even I had to giggle, despite the tears rolling down my face. I cried because I couldn't stand the thought of some parent sitting down with this literature, and teaching their child that they are some sort of abomination, and the only way to be deserving of God's love is to deny themselves love and affection from a person they love, because of the gender of that individual.
Finally, the literature all concludes with a message of hope! Yes, all you dykes and homos can be CURED! HALLELUJIA! THANK YOU JESUS! THEY HAVE DISCOVERED HOMO-CHEMO... it's a sort of chicken soup for the fairy's soul! WAKE UP! I am a happy, proud, upstanding member of my community. I have wonderful friends, and a wonderful family. I smile today because I am ok with me! There was a time when I was depressed, but that was because of people like these authors who told me that there was a reason to be depressed! Once I was able to gain the perspective I needed, I realized how wrong they were, and how wonderful the young man I was becoming could be, if only he smiled when at his reflection in the window he was passing by. So please, don't shatter my window just so you can fix it. It's not even broken. Besides, I like what I see in it, and through it, so let's open the curtains and live!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME ON APRIL 21st!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY AWESOME SISTER SHELLY ON APRIL 21st TOO!
I believe in you!
Please feel free to contact me through BreakingOUT, or visit our website!
Travis Stanton, 19, lives in South Dakota. He attends college, majoring in Modern American Entertainment, and is the founder of BreakingOUT, a web based organization for young gay men looking for assistance in the process of coming out.