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.