I’m Christian, unless you’re gay
Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 15:02
A note from Sam Smith, Viewpoint editor: When I found this piece by Pearce, I was compelled to obtain his permission and share it, shortened to fit the section. I hope those impacted by this article will visit his site, danoah.com, and read the responses.
I'm not being facetious when I say that I hope I can get this message across without offending … well … everybody.
That being said, I believe some strong words need to be said today.
"God hates fags." We've all seen the signs being waved high in the air by members of the Westboro Baptist church. It's hard not to take notice. Over the years, I've watched seemingly never-ending disgustingness and hatred spill across the media airwaves from those who belong to the organization.
For those who don't know much about that "church," they have made a seedy name for themselves by doing drastic things like picketing beneath atrocious signs and hosting flagrant anti-gay protests at military funerals.
Almost every person of nearly every religion has no problem loathing and condemning the Westboro Baptist Church and its members, and perhaps with reason. They take freedom of speech far beyond what our Founding Fathers intended when they fought to give us that right, and they laugh at the rest of the world while they do.
But today I don't want to talk about those idiots. I want to talk about you. And me.
And my friend who I'll call Jacob.
Jacob is 27 years old, and guess what ... he's gay. Not a lot of people know. He lives in a community where being gay is still very "frowned upon."
I was talking to him on the phone a few weeks ago, telling him about my failed attempts to write this post. He was trying to hold his emotions in, but he eventually became tearful as we deliberated the very problem that this post attempts to discuss. Today's post is not about homosexuality. It's not about Christians. It's about something else altogether. It's about love. It's about kindness. It's about friendship. And love, kindness and friendship are three things that Jacob hasn't felt in a long time. I'm thankful he gave me permission to share our conversation with you. It went something like this.
"Jacob, I honestly don't know how to write it," I said. "I know what I want to get across, but I can never find the right words."
"Dan, you need to write it. Don't give up. I'm telling you, it needs to be said."
I paused. "You don't understand. It's too heated a subject. It's something people are very emotional and touchy about. I'd be lynched."
My friend hesitated. "Dan, you are the only friend I have that knows I'm gay. The only freaking one," he said.
"What do you mean? I know you've told other friends." That's when his voice cracked. He began crying.
"Every single person I've told has ditched me. They just disappear. They stop calling. They remove me on Facebook. They're just gone," he said. "They can't handle knowing and being friends with a gay person."
I didn't know what to say. So I didn't say anything.
"You don't know what it's like, man. You don't know what it's like to live here and be gay. You don't know what it's like to have freaking nobody. You don't know what it's like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn't choose this. I didn't want this. And I'm so tired of people hating me for it. I can't take it anymore."
How do you respond to that? I wanted to tell him it was all in his head. I knew it wasn't. I wanted to tell him it would get better and easier. The words would have been hollow and without conviction, and I knew it.
I live in this community too. And I've heard the hate. I've heard it all, and I've heard it tucked and disguised neatly beneath a wrapper of self-righteousness and a blanket of "caring" or "religious" words. I've heard it more times than I care to number.
About gay people.
About fat people.
About people who smoke.
About people who just look at you or me the wrong way.
I've heard it, and I've heard it over and over again.
Hell, in the past (and to some degree in the present) I participated in it. I propagated it. I smugly took part in it. I'll admit that.
And I did so under the blanketing term "Christian." I did so believing that my actions were somehow justified because of my beliefs at the time. I did so, actually believing that such appointments were done out of ... love.
This isn't just a Utah phenomenon. It was just as bad in Denver. It was just as bad in California. I hear it on television shows and radio programs. I hear it around my own family's dinner table from time to time. Usually said so passively, so sneakily and so "righteously."
From Christians. Buddhists. Hindus. Muslims. Jews.
"God hates fags."
"God hates addicts."
"God hates people that aren't just like me."