We're all familiar with the insistence that opposing same-sex marriage or gay lifestyles is not bigotry, that you don't have to agree with someone to love them. I believed that for several years. It rings true in theory. But the more I learn about the history of the gay rights movement, the more convinced I am that this opposition is inextricably rooted in bigotry after all, even if most such people are sincere when they say they don't hate gay people. The gay rights movement started with the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969, when gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided they were tired of being harassed by police officers. That's why Pride Month is in June. Conservative Christians didn't lift a finger or say a word to protest anti-gay bullying and discrimination back then, but now they have no problem complaining about the existence of Pride Month. How "loving" of them. In the 1970s, the gay rights movement faced significant setbacks thanks to a conservative Christian named Anita Bryant who spearheaded a coalition to roll back non-discrimination ordinances and bar gay people from public life. The coalition was called Save Our Children. She was no different than the modern morons throwing around the "groomer" buzzword as if they forgot about "snowflake." Painting gay people as a threat to children is the definition of bigotry. Likewise, I believe freaking out that "traditional" families will disintegrate and society will collapse if gay people have the same right that straight people take for granted is also bigotry.
This is a very, very obvious realization that most of my generation came to before I did. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to. My heart and my brain both told me it was wrong to ban same-sex marriage in a secular, pluralistic society based on religious beliefs that many people don't share. But believe it or not, I am capable of being humble sometimes. My church taught me that God wanted same-sex marriage to be illegal, and I didn't like that and I wasn't comfortable with it, but I acknowledged that didn't mean it wasn't true. I acknowledged that God's ways were not my ways. I'm never going to supplant my conscience with someone else's dogma like that again. I've seen much too much of the pain that these teachings cause real live gay people, and there's no way in hell this pain comes from a loving God. If it does come from a god, then this god is not worthy of my devotion. I saw a meme once upon a time that says, "For being so concerned about gay marriage, God sure was preoccupied with dinosaurs for millions of years." While this is technically a non sequitir, it intuitively rings true to me now. This obsessive focus on sexuality and gender, most of it coming from old white people, feels much too petty and small-minded for the Creator of this massive and ancient universe.
For a few months before I left the church, I did my best to be an LGBTQ ally and create a more inclusive, loving environment by posting things on that topic in my ward's Facebook group. I never posted anything that was in opposition to the church's teachings or policies. That didn't stop my bishop and stake president from both inquiring about my activism when I sought a temple recommend. They granted the recommend, but they had to make sure I was aware of the church's teachings and policies - even though it was impossible not to be - because my inclusiveness and love were a red flag to them. That frustrated me a lot, but my bishop confided in me that he'd grown up in a different generation and had to adjust his own feelings about gays and lesbians, so I empathized with that. In my next ward, the bishop deleted my first LGBTQ-themed post and straight-up lied to me that the group was for ward news and announcements only, even though nobody had a problem with the memes I posted or the articles about dating that one of his counselors posted. I didn't empathize with that. I lost respect for him and blocked his number.
Recently there was a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, which most Americans have moved on from by now just like they move on from every shooting. In the reddit circles I frequent, a lot of discussion centered around the fact that the shooter was a nominal member of my former church and whether it was fair to blame the church for his actions. I don't think it is. He clearly wasn't an active member by any stretch, and as hollow and unconvincing as the church's professions of love for LGBTQ people are, they do pretty clearly rule out murder. But I do think it holds a bit of culpability in a broader sense. Anti-LGBTQ protests and hate crimes have skyrocketed in the last couple years at the same time that white supremacy has skyrocketed, and while I've been privileged enough not to notice until now, it's not altogether surprising. Another thing I've learned from history is that social progress is always followed by a backlash from conservatives who feel threatened by other people having rights and/or being treated with respect. I've decided that any and all sources of stigma that could possibly contribute to this environment in any degree need to stop. I want to fight this bigotry and the only weapon I have is my words. I can be pretty good with words. They could be a pretty effective weapon. Oh, but what I don't have is a following of any decent size, so that frustrates me a lot. Not that I don't appreciate both of my readers very much, but I want to influence the world, dang it.
I want to be live-and-let-live toward my former church. I'm not interested in trying to deconvert people for intellectual or historical reasons. Life is short and cruel and I think people should believe whatever makes them happy as long as it doesn't problems for other people. But I am going to be adamant from now on that same-sex relationships are not wrong and gender transitions are not wrong. I'm done agreeing to disagree on unscientific and unethical beliefs that ruin people's lives. I don't claim to speak for God, I'm just following my heart and my brain, and if God has a problem with that he's welcome to step in and let me know anytime, but I won't have anything nice to say to him if he does. If he has a problem with gay marriage, he could have adopted a better strategy than creating millions of gay people and then commanding them not to do anything gay. Oh, and also here's David Archuleta talking about his own experience suffering in the church and then being validated by God. His description of meeting with a clueless apostle just confirms to me yet again that these men really are acting out of ignorance and prejudice, not revelation. (He doesn't mention it in this clip, but the apostle told him thrice that he needs to find the right girl, even though mixed-orientation marriages are usually horrible for everyone involved and the church has claimed that it no longer encourages them.) His departure is very embarrassing for the church because of his celebrity status, and I expect it will go a long way toward bringing about the changes that we all know are inevitable for the simple reason that its current position is not sustainable.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.