Why does a group so obsessed with “spreading the truth” perpetuate so much falsehood? Perhaps a single-minded devotion to principles devised by flawed humans results in automatic dismissal of anything that doesn’t fit in. Even if presented with strong logical evidence that they’re wrong, people who are fixated on absolute truth seem more likely to cling to falsehoods.
I know a lot of people who fall into the typical “conservative Christian” group, including several fundamentalists. Popular ideas about LGBT people include:
- They were sexually abused as children and grew up somehow confused into loving the wrong gender
- They are products of liberal brainwashing–whether from parents or public school or TV or my blog or whatever evil thing spreads support for LGBT rights
- Their much higher incidence of depression and suicide is caused by being encouraged to embrace who they are (because that would be embracing evil!)
- Anyone who claims to have been gay and to now be “healed” is perfect proof that it’s a choice
But there is a major truth that this whole group is in denial about. Among their own children are plenty of LGBT people who weren’t sexually abused, who were sheltered from the world (i.e. from “liberals”)–sometimes to the extent that they don’t even know what their feelings are. Imagine the confusion of growing up a boy who is attracted to boys, when you’ve only ever been taught that boys are naturally attracted to girls.
Denying that anti-LGBT people are responsible for bullying us into depression and suicide is just more victim-blaming. I suppose when you think a person is evil, and that the only way they can be happy is to follow the same beliefs you do, then you could twist things around in your mind so that you really believe you’re not hurting them. But surprise, telling people that you believe they’re evil and they can’t be happy until they believe what you believe makes them believe they are evil. Because they want to be happy. It doesn’t work, though. Once you start believing that you’re worthless or evil, you start self-destructing. And when you realize that there’s no way to change the “evil thing”, that it’s just part of you no matter what god you believe in, life looks so hopeless.
We do have a handful of stories from Christians who claim to have been gay at some point, but not anymore. Now, considering that a lot of high-profile “ex-gay” Christians have come forward to admit that they’ve been gay all along, and that one of the major gay conversion organizations has closed and issued apologies for causing harm to the people they tried to help…how seriously can we take these stories? We live in a time when a significant percentage of people have had sexual encounters with other people of the same gender, yet only 2-5% of them are actually gay or bisexual. How can we determine that the ex-gay actually was gay, and not, say, a confused bisexual raised in an environment where any same-sex attraction was called evil and “being gay” means the same thing as “practicing homosexuality”?
It seems to me that Christians who grew up in sheltered environments where LGBT issues are taboo are quite likely to be confused if they start experiencing same-sex attraction. They might be very ashamed of it, to the point that if they really are gay, they might suppress it and pretend to be straight and claim to be healed. Convenient “evidence” for people who think it’s a choice.
After speaking somewhat openly to my group of conservative friends about being bisexual (thanks to the courage of a few who went before me), I have, in the past few months, gained the trust of several LGBT young people who are homeschooled children of hyper-conservative parents. Most of them had never told anyone else what they told me. They are scared.
Aside from the people I know personally, if they aren’t enough, John Shore receives hundreds of letters from young LGBT Christians who feel so lost, alone, dirty, and scared. Many of these letters are heartbreaking, and they’re full of honest searching for truth.
Dear conservative parents who stand against LGBT rights, you have gay children, and you don’t even know it. You’ve forced your own precious children into invisibility, because when you go about spreading your “absolute truth”, you tell them that they are all wrong, and that who they are is impossible and false. I know you don’t want to believe that some of those little people who are learning everything from you are so very different from you. But it’s the truth, and if you really cared about the truth, you’d start listening. Before you mock a gay couple, or say something in any way derogatory about LGBT people, look at your children, and imagine that one or more of them is gay. It might give you a different perspective.