When I was a child, I was taught that certain words were bad, that you don’t use them. For example, I was taught that the word “shit” was a bad word; therefore, I was barred from saying it and instead had to say, “doodoo.”
Other words I was taught to be “bad” included, “hell” and “damn.” Both words completely off limits. But I realized something, I realized that although I wasn’t allowed to say those words, religious folk were allowed to use them relentlessly.
But there is a word I wasn’t taught. In fact, I was well aware of the word “shit” long before I’d ever heard the word “faggot” uttered. Once I finally heard that word, it wasn’t long until it was being used to refer to me. I remember walks home from school which resulted in other children throwing rocks at me and screaming “fag” or “faggot” at me with no provocation. I remember people I thought were friends eventually turning to those words as well. The prime difference, as I see it, between calling a “straight” kid “faggot” or calling a “gay” kid “faggot” is that the gay kid believes you.
Much debate has been centered lately around “bullycide” after two 11 year old boys took their lives because of harassment at school for perceived sexual orientation. We may never know the truth of why this kids decided to take their own lives. It could be because they did know they were “gay” in spite of not identifying as such at that time and could not bear the harassment of “coming out.” But on another hand it could be that these kids were heterosexual and just couldn’t tolerate the bullying any longer. Either way, it’s a tragic and needless loss of life.
Upon review of message boards about bullying in school, I found the following comment:
Kids who have homosexual tendencies need to be surrounded with godly counsel and godly folks. They need to know GOD’s truth in love before its too late. We need to make them aware that homosexuality is not GOD’s way.
I immediately flashed to the story of Bobby Griffin as told in the book and made for T.V. movie, Prayers for Bobby. Bobby Griffin was surrounded with these so-called godly folks who believed that they were helping Bobby by leading him away from his “homosexual tendencies.” Bobby still took his own life. Comments such as these are ill-informed and mortally dangerous. To think that you can “cure” a child of their homosexual tendencies sexual orientation is the most repugnant form of attempted brain-washing, aside from raising your children in environments of intolerance and hatred.
The author of the comment seems so very sincere and earnest in her comment that it is obvious that she believes she is helping these children by telling them that God will save them from homosexuality, a conversion therapy. Although science has never been a concern of religious zealots, medical providers, including The National Association of Social Workers, The American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Counseling Association, and The American Academy of Pediatrics, have stood up against such therapies. In fact, The American Psychiatric Association has described such efforts as ineffective and damaging to an LGBT person’s well-being.
Darlene Bogle is one of the people who participated in such conversion therapy. She often appeared on television talk shows preaching that “gay” can be cured and that she successfully converted from lesbianism. She even wrote books on the subject, Long Road to Love and Strangers in a Christian Land, which described her successful conversion and how it came about. In April, 2007 Bogle and two other high-profile ex-gay ministers, Jeremy Marks [formerly of Courage U.K.] and Michael Bussee [co-founder of ex-gay ministry, Exodus], held a press conference to “apologize for exposing LGBT Christians to such indoctrination.” In the press conference Bussee stated:
Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message creates. We apologize for our part in the message of broken truth we spoke on behalf of Exodus and other organizations.
From The Advocate:
Ex-gay survivor Eric Leocadio was on hand to witness the official apology in Los Angeles. As a high school freshman Leocadio ingested two fistfuls of pills, hoping to kill himself so that he would not have to struggle with his sexual orientation. ‘When I survived,’ said Leocadio, now 31, ‘I realized that God wasn’t done with me. There was so much more that God had planned for me.’
Leocadio went on to explain, “I received a lot of mixed signals from the church. Everyone gets unconditional love from God but only conditional love from the church, based on the concept of ‘wholeness.’ ” He left the ex-gay ministries in 2006 and now states:
What I knew about Christianity was the only thing I was taught. I decided to take a step back and learn more. I met other gay Christians who had a genuine faith and love for God. Through meeting them, I have been able to truly learn the love of God and own it for myself.
So it seems everyone who wishes to find truth in God’s love can find their own truth, a truth void of intolerance, hatred, bigotry and spite. This blind, unrelenting belief that God hates gay people is the cause of symptoms such as bullying and hate crimes, yet we continue to treat only the symptoms. Perhaps its time we look to the cause and teach those who preach against gays, blacks, women, Jewish people, obesity, etc., a real truth. This is the tangible world, not the surreal one.
So, you can keep your “religious morality.” I don’t want to go to the heaven you believe in, it sounds like a cruel and viscious place. [NOTE: I use the term morality very loosely when connected with religious.]