One of my openly gay friends told me the other day that he felt sorry for me, specifically for “how deeply people have misunderstood” my writing about LGBT/religious conservative disagreements. Though I’ve gone back and forth with a few people since my post about the Mama Dragons, I mostly haven’t been privy to people’s thoughts, especially since more and more online conversations happen in private forums of like-minded people (which research has shown predictably serves to reinforce and deepen convictions unilaterally). So needless to say, I was a little surprised at what he had seen.
This video is my attempt to share a little more of my heart behind this work. If I had a chance to sit in the home of someone who has “deeply misunderstood my intentions” in recent writing, this is what I would say. (Although all issues in America can seemingly be boiled down into 30 second/3 minute sound bites, this is not one of them…not if we care about the nuance associated with the “full truth” as we variously define it).
You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/_Qe4VSmNL58
My basic argument is that we have been operating in recent years out of a conversational framework about sexuality and religion in America that is not entirely honest. In particular, the dominant public conversation pre-positions one side of the discussion in inherently despicable terms + the other side in inherently enlightened terms. While it’s true that many people actually believe these terms to be a reflection of reality, I argue here that they distort, on a fundamental level, what the LGBT and religious conservative communities actually disagree about. For instance, rather than acknowledging that these two communities have reached different conclusions about what it means to be “loving” or “compassionate” (to those who identify as gay), it’s very often taken for granted that we all know what it means to be loving – with the crucial aim of public discourse being to to highlight those people who embody this virtue, and ferret out those who do not. In addition to being dangerous for a pluralistic, democratic society, I highlight reasons why the current public conversation can lead people (including vulnerable teens) to a place of despair. All this exploration is embedded against a backdrop of my own positive dialogue experiences with many others which confirm the idea (and demonstrate the reality) that it’s possible for thoughtful, good-hearted people to reach different conclusions about sexuality, identity, choice, change, the body, God (and lots and lots of other things too).
Here’s how I introduced this video on Facebook:
In recent years, I have had dear friends and family members step away from my own faith community because, in their words, we are “hateful towards the gay community,” because we presumably think “being gay is a choice,” because we “want to fix gay people,” and because “don’t know how to accept/be loving/be compassionate/be inclusive,’ etc.
These claims and accusations have been repeated and circulated so often, so widely, and so convincingly, that we’ve mostly stopped talking about whether they are, in fact, true. I’ve been surprised at how little curiosity and uncertainty exists throughout the conversation (even more so, with the advent of President Trump). As a result, the terms of our public conversations about gay rights and religious freedom have become calcified around certain assumptions and starting points that I can only label as dishonest.
By that, I mean that our conversation no longer represents actual disagreements about sexuality (and many other things) in a fair light, and I believe that’s a problem. A big one.
That’s why I keep writing about this. And that’s why I made this video.
If you are concerned (as I am) about the promiscuous, casual stance toward “truth” that presses upon us every day in America today, then maybe you will be concerned about this as well. And if you, or someone you love, have distanced yourself from faith or religion with some influence from the dominant conversation we’re having today about sexuality in America, I hope this video will be helpful.
This is my sincere plea to YOU – for a more honest and less despairing conversation between the LGBT and religious conservative communities. Thanks for hearing me out.