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Thursday, October 14, 2010

SL Letter of the Day: Silence of the Lambs

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 11:28 AM

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I'm sure half the letters you get start the same way as mine: I normally agree with you 100%, but...

Your response to LR angered me. Don't get me wrong, I think you're completely in the right in putting him in his place regarding the hypocrisy of his views. But it felt like a slap in the face to see Christianity being so concretely linked with being anti-gay. I'm an atheist, but I grew up in the United Church of Canada, where we learned that gay people have equal rights and we should fight for their right to marry. For coming out day, St. Andrew's Haney United Church had a billboard specifically welcoming gays, lesbians, straights, bisexuals, and transgendered folk. And this isn't some sort of "Come to our church, we'll turn you straight" deal. This is "God made you this way and that's how you should be and let's help the rest of the world accept you like you should be."

In my experience, the majority of Christians are apathetic or "tolerant" towards people of alternative sexualities. But there are certainly Christians who fully accept and believe that our society should be truly equal, just as there are those who truly hate anyone who differs from the norm. What I'm trying to say is that it really upsets me to see such a small minority being given so much power and attention, which just serves to widen the rift between gay people and Christians. Why not give some time and attention to the churches that welcome and love gay people? For someone who is gay and Christian (or any other religion with some element of anti-gay rhetoric,) I can't even imagine how heartbreaking it would be to feel you have to choose between two strong aspects of who you are. Wouldn't knowing that there are churches that believe that it's normal and okay to be both be more beneficial than reinforcing the need to choose?

Jesus Loves Gays And Hates Fundies

My response to "buttsore Christians" after the jump...

•••
Thanks for the kind note, JLGAHF, but...

I'm tired of reading letters from buttsore "good" Christians whining to me about the "power and attention" given to the "a small minority" who hate, demonize, and dehumanize gays and lesbians, as if the reach, influence, and impact of conservative Christian bigots were a figment of my imagination.

Or something I had the luxury of ignoring in favor of the occasional "welcoming" church sign.

Yes, the malice, influence, and impact of the religious right are all things you can ignore—if you're straight. Because the religious right isn't attacking you or your rights. It's easy to be complacent when you're straight, to throw up your hands and say, "Oh, just stop giving them so much attention—it's making all the good Christians look bad and feel sad." But we're not the ones who gave "them" so much power. Conservative Christians seized power because moderate and liberal Christians ceded it—moderate and liberal Christians ceded both power and their reputations to conservative "Christian" haters.

I'm sorry, JLGAHF, but that "small minority" is very powerful, and we have to pay attention to them and fight back against their lies. Our rights, our families, and our lives depend on it. And if you're upset that all Christians everywhere are increasingly viewed as anti-gay, your beef is with conservative, right-wing, sex-phobic, and homophobic "Christians" who claim to speak for all Christians everywhere, not with me.

As for my response to LR, JLGAHF, it was clearly addressed to a Christian who believes that being Christian requires her to deny the basic human dignity and equality of gay and lesbian and bi and trans people. It wasn't addressed to all Christians everywhere. It was addressed to her, and to her brand of Christianity. I didn't go out of my way to point out that not all Christians agree with her. But neither did she. And it's telling that you would take issue not with LR, but with me. Telling and typical. I hate to sound like a broken record, but one more time:

I'm sick of tolerant, accepting Christians whispering to me that "we're not all like that." If you want to change the growing perception that "good Christian" means "anti-gay"—a perception that is leading many people to stop identifying themselves as Christian because they don't want to be lumped in with the haters—stop whispering to me and start screaming at them. Until there are moderate and "welcoming" Christian groups that are just as big, well-funded, aggressive, and loud as the conservative Christian organizations, "welcoming" Christians are in no position to complain about the perception that all Christians are anti-gay. Your co-religionists have invested decades and millions of dollars in creating that perception. You let it happen.

Turning around and blaming me and other gays and lesbians who are desperately fending off the attacks of your co-religionists—well, that's not very Christian. Unless blaming the victim has become, along with hating the homos, a defining Christian virtue.

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