Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nauseating

I literally feel nauseated after reading an article posted on Mission America by one Linda Harvey. The article is titled "Fairy tales don't come true: Impressionable kids and homosexuality." In it, Harvey tells the story of a fictitious child "Josh", an average 13-year-old American boy with insecurities about his height, weight, and image with the ladies.

In other words, Josh is a fairly typical American adolescent. His family only has casual ties to a church, and his parents consider themselves moderate politically, when they have time or interest to think about it.

Josh’s standards, therefore, are being formed not by parents of high character, but by the American culture, including television, his public school and the Internet. That’s where he developed a keen curiosity about sex and it’s also where he gets his information and values.

You can probably guess the direction this is leading. There is a lot of bizarre content in the article--including Harvey claiming Josh has "never heard or read an opposing viewpoint" on homosexuality and that he decides to give being gay a shot because, in part, "girls seems like a lot of trouble. It would be so much more fun to be physical with someone who likes the same things he does--Nintendo, movies, and role-playing games. And having sex without any thoughts of pregancy, commitment and all that serious stuff"--but I'll skip to the part that really turned my stomach.

Warning: this is where the nausea started for me. According to Harvey, Josh, as a teenager,

will probably pair up with an older homosexual and begin homosexual sex...

Josh’s future probably holds a revolving door of sexual contacts, with his first visit to a clinic to be treated for a sexually transmitted disease at around age 17. Then, if he’s typical, he’ll be treated annually for an STD of some type...

He is already drinking heavily, smoking, and doing recreational drugs. Somewhere along the line, he’ll have several longer-term boyfriends, and may even move in with one or two of them. Their break-ups will happen after six months or a year, and be spectacular events punctuated with drama, screaming fights and threats of self-harm, contributing to the high rates of domestic violence cited for “gay” males.

He will go to a counselor for treatment of depression, anxiety or an eating disorder... Along the way, he may well become HIV-positive. In his thirties, he will start to have relationships with boys who are 16 and 17 [emphasis mine]... He may even transmit the HIV virus to one or more of them.

Josh is likely to die early, probably before 55 and very likely in his 40’s. His grandmother will cry at his funeral, knowing he would have made a great father and even grandfather. But it won’t happen for him.

Ugh. This reading this literally made me sick to my stomach.

In a way, I used to be like Harvey. I used to believe similar stuff to be true of gay people. I believed the average gay person's life was riddled with addiction, disease, casual sex, and no committed relationships. I thought this was the life that would be mine if I were to come out.

But I had never met a single openly gay person. The only "gay" people I knew were "ex-gay" people in the ministries I was a part of for five years. Similarly, the only "research" I had ever done on homosexuality was listening to James Dobson's radio broadcast and reading literature from conservative, openly antigay organizations like Focus on the Family, Exodus, the American Family Association, etc.

Like Harvey, I had been told the "statistics" that gays and lesbians live radically shorter lives than hetero Americans. I believed these numbers to be as true as the Gospel... until I started doing real "research." Once I started reading academic journals for myself, I learned these statistics--and many others like them--were the brainchildren of Paul Cameron, whose methodology is patently ridiculous and whose conclusions are grossly untrustworthy. I also started meeting openly gay folks and discovered their lives are nothing like the stereotype I once held--the stereotype presented by Harvey, Exodus, FotF, and others.

And then I began my own relationship with the man who is now my fiance. After more than two years together, I'm just a week away from our wedding. We have a wonderful, fulfilling, and enjoyable relationship. We love each other deeply.

I was wrong, just as Harvey is wrong. And this reminds me of the teachings of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Linda Harvey is not my enemy; ignorance is.

Harvey's antigay screed is filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. The danger is not that this disgusting article exists; the danger is that people believe it to be true. The enemy here is the misinformation and misunderstanding rampant in what Harvey wrote.

I believe the two most powerful tools for the advancement of the gay rights movement are (1) coming out to family and friends and (2) education. The stereotypes, inaccuracies, and untruths must be replaced with real people's lives and solid, true facts about gay people.

And so I encourage gay and lesbian people everywhere to come out. "Come out, come out, whereever you are." Let your friends and family and neighbors and churchgoers know that gay people are no more unusual or monstrous than their sisters and brothers, their teammates and classmates, the two girls living in the apartment across the hall or the two guys living in the house down the street, the person sitting next to them in the pew.

And I encourage everyone--gay and lesbian or not--to do real research. Don't just read the soundbytes digested by conservative or liberal organizations or the general media. Read source material, the studies of orientation, health, mental adjustment, and fulfillment that have been conducted for the past eighty years.

We have, I believe, the "upper hand" in this struggle for justice, because we are on the side of truth. I believe our greatest efforts should be in making our personal selves known and learning and communicating the factual truth.

hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars

But I don't want to leave you on an unhappy note. So, in keeping with the "nauseating" theme, I give you Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell in "Waiters Who are Nauseated by Food." Enjoy :-)

1 comment:

seithman said...

I certainly don't recognize myself in her description of "Josh."

I never did drugs. I average about two drinks per month. Since coming out to myself in 1996, I've had three sexual partners (apparently, my revolving door must be busted). And with my thirty fourth birthday quickly approaching, I'm finding that more and more of the men I'm attracted to are older than me. (Yeah, the RIT kids are cute, but then I remember what most college kids are like...)