What Do You Do When Your Son is Gay?

After reading this power story that Susan over at FreedHearts posted, I asked her for, and received, permission to post it in full here on the QPHC blog. It speaks for itself, and sadly is not the only story of its kind. Recently some friends lost someone in a way terribly similar to this one, only without the happy parts.

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“Mom, I’m gay.” Earth-shattering words to many conservative Christian parents — tragically, many view it as right up there with, “Your child has a brain tumor.” Actually, Christians will empathize with a brain tumor, but just try telling the church your child is gay and you will find the limit of grace withheld not only from gay Christians but from their accepting families. Not only what is said but unsaid can be oppressive for a family seeking love and truth.

I do not blame the parents in these situations for one nanosecond. Lord knows, they are trying to respond, with the wind knocked out of them, in an area where the church at large allows no breathing room. Parents blame themselves and Christians blame them. Seriously. No sooner do we hear the word gay or lesbian than we brace for impact — because we know the attack is coming.

This story was posted on FB. My daughter went to school with his brother. The mother, Linda, gave me kind permission to post this  in the hope of impacting lives and preventing tragedy. This is why our response as a Christian community matters. A real person with a real story.

The photo above is of Linda and Ryan Robertson.

Just Because He Breathes
by Linda Mueller Robertson (Notes) on Monday, April 1, 2013 at 12:35am
Written on December 5th, 2012
First posted on January 14, 2013 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.
We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible to be the Word of God should say:
We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.
We love you. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.
We love you. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime of loneliness (never to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy companionship, experience romance), but it also meant the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards.  So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies, got baptized, read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the “why’s” of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and I, and built strong friendships with other guys – straight guys – just like he was told to. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing – by memory – verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Himself.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer his prayer – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday he’d come back to Jesus. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us…we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could even love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

Linda Diane Robertson

Written on December 5th, 2012
Posted on January 14, 2013 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday

Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in their consideration of the challenge to overturn California’s Prop 8, and then tomorrow the SC will hear oral arguments in their consideration of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Both of these are a huge deal and have the potential to radically change the legal rights of LGBQ people. We will not know what the SC actually decides until June, but they will be releasing the audio of the oral arguments later in the day after each of them.

In preview of this big news, I thought I would share a few other news topics of interest over the past week in regards to marriage equality.

Firstly, in what I believe might be the most important piece of news from the past few weeks, The American Academy of Pediatrics announced its endorsement of marriage equality. What I find so encouraging about their announcement is their reasoning: it is about the children:

All children need support and nurturing from stable, healthy, and well functioning adults to become resilient and effective adults. On the basis of a review of extensive scientific literature, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) affirms that “children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.”

On the topic of popular opinion an ABC News/Washington Post poll found a dramatic rise in support for marriage equality over the past decade with support now reaching 58% of the American populace.

Following in the vein of the over 100 prominent Republicans that submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme court in support of marriage equality, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in an interview with CNN and then published an op-ed further explaining his decision. This is a huge deal because it makes him the second highest ranking Republican to come out in support of it after former Vice President Dick Cheney. He said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

Senator Portman’s son coming out as gay to he and his wife is what prompted the Senator to really examine what he believed and ultimately what sparked his change. This importance of personal experience with an LGBTQ individual is something that we at QPHC have long believed is so very important in the changing of the hearts and minds of others towards LGBTQ people and issues. And it is not just a theory based on our experiences anymore. CNN reported on a recent national poll that “indicates that the percentage of Americans who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian is on the rise. And that increase matches a jump in the percent of the public who support legal same-sex marriages.” They are calling it the “Rob Portman effect.”

Senator Portman’s son, Will, just published his perspective on his dad’s announcement and some of his story about coming out in the Yale Daily News. I highly recommend reading it.

Senator Portman was not the only high profile political individual to come out in support of marriage equality though as Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) did as well in the past week. While their support is not particularly surprising considering they are Democrats, it is notable because they are both from more conservative states.

In addition former Senator and Secretary of State and possible future candidate for US President Hillary Clinton announced her support for marriage equality as well in a very powerful video:

Update:

Here is the link to the audio for the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Bishop Gene Robinson Reaches Out to Closeted PHC Students

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, of the Diocese of New Hampshire, recently visited the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with former congressman Pat Murphy about Robinson’s new book, God Believes in Love.

Robinson spoke with Queer Patrick Henry College after the presentation, and offered some encouragement to closeted students at the college. He’s used to such appeals for encouragement, and said he receives several emails a week from “some kid in podunk Idaho who thinks they’re the only gay person besides me in the world.”

“What I usually say to them is there’s just a big, wide, wonderful world out here, and it can be wonderful for gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender people,” he said. “And you may have to stay where you are, you may have to be quiet about who you are for awhile, but find a few people that you can be open with, that you can be yourself with, because it will feel like an oasis in an awfully dry desert. And then when it’s possible, get out into this big wide world and meet some of us who are having the time of our lives and are not held back by being openly gay.”

Robinson said LGBTQ people who grew up in conservative environments as he did, and as many PHC students did, can do a great deal of damage to themselves.

“The hardest person to come out to is yourself, right?” he said.  “We learned all the things that everybody else was learning, and we became alienated from ourselves, not to mention our parents and our families, and so on. I think it’s a really tough row to hoe, but find some oases to feed yourself along the way, and then join this community that’s waiting to embrace you.”

As a queer Christian, it’s hard to overstate the impact that Bishop Robinson has had on the lives of people like me. To see someone who is both openly gay and openly Christian take on a bold leadership role in the church is nothing short of inspiring. At Patrick Henry College, there’s quite a bit of talk about “leading the nation and shaping the culture,” and Bishop Robinson is doing exactly that, with his ongoing role in transforming the cultural conversation on queer people of faith.

Robinson is retiring on Jan. 5 and leaving New Hampshire to move to D.C., where he hopes to assist St. Thomas’ Parish in Dupont Circle in founding a new Center for Non-Violent Communication, with the goal of changing “the nature of the debate” in the highly political city. Color me excited.

The Rainbow Feelings Playlist

I survived Patrick Henry College with a pastel iPod shuffle and a pair of earbuds that I rescued from the lost and found bin, after waiting the requisite week to make sure no one else wanted them. Was that one of the more unhygienic choices of my life? Yes, but it was also transgressive in another way — it was the first time my music was both portable and private. For the first time, I could listen to whatever I wanted. And what I wanted was to feel all the feels, without judgment from someone else.

Growing up in a fundamentalist family, I learned five emotions: joy, contentment, godly sorrow, righteous indignation, and fear. By the time I got to school, I was somewhat emotionally stunted. Just as I did not have the words to express my sexuality until I got to college, I also had not learned the proper emotions. Through music, I learned to feel and desire things beyond the narrow scope of my childhood limitations. I learned to feel romantic love, giddy happiness, heartbreak, anger, and attraction.

As a child, I thought of “diversity” as a bad word. As I left my segment of the fundamentalist movement, I learned that not only did they fear everyone who was different from themselves, but they also feared the diverse emotions of a nuanced human soul. I had learned to assign one note to those I feared. But now I’ve joined the ranks of those I was once taught to fear, and I allow myself my own range of emotions, in a quiet rebellion.

I do much of that through music. And when I began coming out to myself a couple of years ago, I did that with the help of a soundtrack of queer artists. They helped me put words to deep longings and old hurts. One of my favorite bands is Tegan and Sara (yes, I am aware that I am a walking queer cliche), and I was ecstatic when I heard they were releasing a new album in the next few weeks. I particularly love the single “Closer,” in all its flirtatious danceability.

I think sometimes in all our arguments back and forth about gay marriage and the “homosexual lifestyle,” people forget that LGBTQ people enjoy playful moonlit tumbles on trampolines and making out in magical fantasy tents festooned with streamers just as much as the next hetero. In other words, we don’t always fit neatly into the categories that others have created for us, such as “staid married couple grows oregano in their window container garden,” or “glittery slutty homo seeks same.”

Our emotions and our love lives can be messy and beautiful and heartbreaking and full of flirtation and frustration and longing and caught breaths and skipped hearts, and we really want you to listen to us, but maybe it would be better if we just made you a mix tape.

Patrick Henry College Herald Tackles Homosexuality

The Patrick Henry College Herald, a student-run publication, recently published this article on out friends and family members of current students [PDF], which also features the story of a current student who describes her former relationship with a woman.

It’s worth a read, not because I agree with what is said, but because it’s one of the first times that PHC students have openly wrestled with this issue as a student body. While the article was upsetting for me to read for reasons that I will explain in just a bit, it is also a relief to have the LGBTQ community acknowledged, and in a way that does not simply make the queer community into a faceless, vaguely threatening entity. And while I disagree strongly with the tone of the article, I commend writer Elizabeth Stinnette for taking on this project and pushing the PHC student body out of the comfortable silence that they have maintained on this issue.

Nevertheless, I wanted to highlight two of the major misconceptions in this article.

1. Being straight is part of the Christian gospel message

PHC students tend to discuss homosexuality in relation to marriage amendments and as signs of a decaying culture. However, gays and lesbians cannot be painted with a single rainbow-colored brush. A sizeable minority of students has [sic] experienced the complexity of the situation—their relatives and friends are publicly or privately homosexual. Additionally, a few students have struggled with same-sex attraction themselves. While all of these students acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, they realize that they need to extend grace to their relatives and show them the light of the Gospel.

I just have two questions: how does one paint with a rainbow-colored brush? And where can I find one?

On a more serious note, it would be a good idea for PHC students to move beyond only acknowledging the LGBTQ community when talking about marriage amendments or the supposedly decaying culture. The first is dehumanizing, the second is demonizing.

But I still take issue with the more “loving” approach that is outlined. When a relative is gay or lesbian (the article doesn’t really acknowledge the bisexual or trans* communities), the suggested solution is extending grace and showing them the light of the gospel.

As a Christian who also happens to be a member of the queer community, I am all for grace and the light of the gospel. I want to extend it to others, and I want others to extend it to me. But when did sexual orientation become an integral part of the gospel?

I guess I must have missed that verse in Romans 10 where it says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and promise to be straight forever and ever, you will be saved.” I must have been sleeping in Sunday School when we studied John 3:16, where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, and turns away from their homosexual desires, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now I know that some Christians don’t see sexual orientation as an integral part of the gospel. To them, homosexuality is a sin just like a bunch of other sins, and they believe that the gospel promises that God’s love has the cleansing power to get rid of all sins.

But other Christians take that idea and run with it, and preach the damaging message that you can’t be gay and a Christian, or that if you are gay, you have to be celibate if you want to go to heaven.

There is no room in this paradigm for the out, proud gay Christian who is in or looking for a gay relationship. In this mentality, you can be out if you’re celibate, or you can be out as a “former gay.”

2. Being gay or lesbian is synonymous with having emotional and/or psychological issues

And now we get to the part of the article that really broke my heart. A student with the pseudonym “Marie” tells the story of her longterm lesbian relationship with a girl named “Donna.”

Marie and Donna both grew close after dealing with incredible tragedy and hardship in their personal lives, including Donna’s abusive mother, the deaths of several of Marie’s close family members, and the death of Donna’s cousin “Trent”, who was “the only person who loved Donna.”

Marie’s parents forced her to attend PHC; neither they nor anyone at school knew about her lesbian relationship at the time. Meanwhile, Marie dreamed of getting a job at a law office so she could take Donna out of her abusive situation.

“Things were bad between me and Donna,” Marie said. “I felt like I had abandoned her.”

Marie didn’t realize how separated they had become until a high school quarterback took Donna out on a date, got her
drunk, and raped her. Donna called Marie while she was working on her second Spinney paper.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Marie said. Both girls sobbed over the phone.

Donna became pregnant, but she lost the baby a couple of weeks later. She and Marie had always talked about having children together and had even picked out names.

“I felt that I had lost my own child,” Marie said. They named the baby Jasper. He would have had blonde hair, blue eyes, and Donna’s smile.

After a student at PHC witnessed to Marie, she “gave up the dross and took the gold,” and now considers herself straight. Donna is still trapped in her abusive home situation.

“I think about this woman who I loved, who I was engaged to for five years …. I have to look at her and know she will go to hell because no one loved her enough to show Christ’s love for her. And it breaks my heart beyond all bearing,” Marie said.

I can’t even begin to fathom the pain and personal tragedy that Marie has had to deal with. And it’s not up to me to decide whether Marie is straight, lesbian, bisexual, or some other orientation. But if Marie reads this post, I want her to know this:

Marie,

You and Donna had to deal with an overwhelming burden of pain that would have put strain on any relationship, especially one between two young girls who had to weather a long-distance relationship. Death, abuse, rape, a baby that you both loved and then lost — your strength and courage in loving each other through all of that is astounding. Such painful events would cause emotional and psychological trauma for anyone. If you had been a man, you might have still had to break up with Donna anyway. No one can be superhuman forever.

But you should know that loving another woman is not the problem. Loving another woman does not make you broken. You’ve decided that you want to be with a man someday and that you want to live as a straight woman. I don’t know you, and I don’t know the details of your situation. Maybe you will find lasting happiness with a man.

But you should know that if you are still attracted to women, that is OK. You can lead a full, happy, meaningful, moral life as a lesbian or bisexual woman. And if you remain a woman of faith, you can maintain a relationship with God that will only enrich your friendships and relationships with people of any gender and orientation.

If you fall in love with another woman, a woman with whom you could see yourself building a long and happy life, a woman with whom you could see yourself raising children, don’t run away from that because you’re afraid of losing God’s love. Not only does Romans 8 remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but a love that beautiful (even if it’s with someone of your own gender) brings us closer to God.

Whoever you are, Marie, my heart goes out to you.

Hiding in the Closet on National Coming Out Day

To my parents:

As I meet with you this week for the first time in a few months to try to stitch up the tears in our threadbare relationship, I wish that I had a few minutes to be completely truthful with you about who I am. Just a few minutes in which I could share an important part of myself without worrying that you would interrupt me, or walk away, or, worst of all, tell me, in that terrible quiet voice that you’ve both adopted, that you’ll be praying for me to return to God.

But I’ve spent the last few months grieving the loss of my family, and I don’t want to lose you again just when we’re on the verge of establishing an uneasy peace. As much as I wish that I had the guts to be honest with you, I know that I’m a coward. I’m relieved that I can explain my actions by saying that I don’t want to make things harder for the younger children. If I were to come out now, I know that you would desperately try to isolate the other children from all the harmful influences that you think warped my soul.

But the truth is that I am most afraid of being shunned by you.

Continue reading

Why is Your Sexual Orientation Such a Big Deal?

I was having a drink with a good friend of mine, when she asked me why gay, lesbian, and bisexual people* made “such a big deal” of their sexual orientation.

I asked her to clarify what she meant, and she said that she would never identify herself as straight.

I asked, “Are you exclusively attracted to men?”

She said, “Yes, but I would never introduce myself like, ‘Hi, I’m [Name] and I’m straight.’ I just think of myself as [Name].”

I fumbled in looking for the words to express my frustration with this question. She’s always been supportive of me, even when she doesn’t agree with everything I think, say or do, and I knew that this question was merely coming from a place of curiosity and simple ignorance.

And I’ve been thinking about this question ever since. I knew what she was referring to. Why do we make such a big deal of our sexual orientations? Why do we take part in pride parades? Why do we make certain deliberate choices about what to wear, how to talk, how to act? Why do we keep posting about it on our Facebook walls? Why do we keep coming out to people? Why do we keep talking about it?

Continue reading

Queer People Don’t Really Exist…

At least according to spokespeople from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). This idea isn’t a new one, but it was recently restated by NOM and it came up in a conversation with a friend that I had last week.

Jennifer Roback Morse, who is the head of The Ruth Institute, NOM’s education arm, said in an interview by Michael Brown that as Catholics they don’t even “accept the category of gayness.” She also goes on to confuse gay men with being trans*, while dissing trans* people and saying that biological sex is a “permanent and basic characteristic” (as opposed to sexual orientation, which she calls “accidental”). She even agrees with Brown’s conflation of a woman having a mastectomy with being a post-op trans man. This is seriously one of the most whacked out, crazy, nonsensical things I have ever heard. Go listen to it and let your mind explode.

Then just a couple weeks ago at The Ruth Institute’s It Takes a Family to Raise a Village conference, Thomas Peters, NOM’s Cultural Director, said, “And so, as a Catholic, the church doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian people.”

They aren’t denying that people have same-sex attractions, but they are denying that makes them queer. To them queerness is about how people act, not about who people are on the inside. It’s purely physical and behavioral. I’m not advocating for queerness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity, any more than I would advocate for maleness or whiteness or tallness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity. However, those things are fundamental aspects of our character and bodies. They don’t exclusively define who we are, but they are a vital part of us.

I mentioned that I had a very similar conversation with a friend, who doesn’t know I’m gay, just this past week. She said that in essence she believes all people are inherently straight, and same-sex attractions, while they do exist, are just a distortion of natural feelings. To her being LGBTQ is a lifestyle and has nothing to do with innate characteristics. (This is like saying that black people are inherently white.)

This persistent denial of reality by anti-LGBTQ people is one of the most frustrating things. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to believe it as well, but I did so out of ignorance and changed over time when confronted with the reality of queer people. I know I harp on this a lot, but I really think that one of the most powerful tools we have in changing the way people think is for them to just get to know a LGBTQ person. My friend even admitted that her views and those of most conservatives are formed in a vacuum where they aren’t confronted and challenged by the reality of queer people. My hope is that when I finally come out to her that will start a process of changing her beliefs.

So here’s to a future where we exist in the minds of everyone.

P.S. I wonder if this is in some way similar to how God feels about people who don’t believe He exists.

Here and Queer

You guys, I fail at writing Fabulous Friday posts on time. I’m skipping it this week, but I promise it’ll be back next week.

Ezra Miller

Photo by Lauren Charlea Nolting

I love Out Magazine’s interview with Ezra Miller, in which he identifies himself as queer.

“I’m queer. I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular.”

He goes on to use the term “zefriend” in addition to “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” in describing who he might date or be attracted to. I love this kid!

Miller’s choice to use the word “queer” is an important one. When we first started QueerPHC, we had a conversation about what we would call the site. We batted around the idea of calling it “LGBT PHC” but decided that it was too acronym-heavy. “Queer” is also used regularly in academia, in the context of classes on “queer studies,” something we very much lacked at Patrick Henry College. We also didn’t want to inadvertently leave out any group of people that fell under the queer umbrella but were not covered under the LGBT acronym.

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Fabulous Friday: July 28th, 2012 (A Saturday)

Happy Saturday the 28th! So Kate has been super busy with life the past couple weeks and not getting much sleep (just because someone graduates from Patrick Henry College does not mean that they automatically get to start getting enough sleep) and wasn’t able to compile her usual Fabulous Friday posts these last two Fridays. So here’s my attempt at filling in the gap temporarily…and on a Saturday.

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