There’s so much I want to say. This isn’t about religion (although there is a note to Christian readers at the bottom of this blog). This is about politics. This is about American freedom. This is about achieving full equality and protection for a community of people that have been oppressed, discriminated against, and mistreated for countless years. I’ve learned a lot over the last few months. I want to share some of these things with you. I hope you will read this with an open mind and truly consider what kind of laws and fair treatment you want all people to have.
I had no idea that there were so many countries that murder people or imprison them for being gay. Here is an article on that which has been recently updated to reflect new laws calling for people to be stoned to death for being gay. Check out the map on that article. It’s mind blowing. Here is a 2017 article that explains it well.
I also had no idea that not that long ago it was actually illegal to be gay in America. I knew gay marriage wasn’t legal until this century, but I had no idea that it was actually illegal to be gay. I can’t imagine living in a culture like that. During colonial times, it could be punished by death although that was rare. It was the 1960s before states starting decriminalizing it. It was June 26th, 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence vs. Texas that laws banning same-sex relations are unconstitutional. We’ve come a long way from the military bans and the ban on working for the federal government.
It’s been in my lifetime that men have been arrested and jailed (in America!) simply for being gay. Read here. That seems so bizarre to me. I can’t imagine any of my family or friends being arrested for who they love.
People kept talking about the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall. That was new information for me. What is Stonewall? Here is a good video on it.
Police brutality has a long and lengthy history when it comes to LGBT+ people. This is an in-depth issue all on its own.
It was this month that I found out just how wide the network is of far right extremists in America who advocate for the killing of gays. I had heard of Westboro Baptist Church, but I didn’t know there were others like them. There is a nationwide network of Christian churches — many being independent Baptist — who call for the arrest, imprisonment, and execution of anyone not hetero. They actually held a conference in Orlando on the 3 year anniversary of the Pulse shooting called Make America Straight Again. That wasn’t all of them though. Also in recent weeks a video went viral of a Tennessee cop who is a pastor preaching for the execution of gays. You can see that video here. Thankfully, he was fired.
Conversion therapy came to my attention when I saw the movie trailer for Boy Erased. I read the book last autumn. I had no idea what kind of things were going on in conversion therapy. I saw the movie a few weeks ago. It ripped me to shreds. It truly moved me more than any other movie I can think of. My heart aches for these people. I had heard the term conversion therapy, but hadn’t taken the time to learn about it. I assumed it was like regular counseling, and had wrongfully assumed that anyone seeking such therapy was an adult who was going through the “therapy” by their choice. I naively assumed that conversion therapy was nothing more than people who didn’t want to feel same-sex attraction attempting to seek the help of a counselor to not act on those attractions or to try and retrain their thoughts. Although I think it’s impossible to change your orientation, I can understand that there are people who find it a struggle they didn’t ask for and want to at least attempt to change. There is a reason so many states are outlawing conversion therapy, at least for minors. The more I learn about this topic the more revolted I am that people are using the name of God – the God who calls us to love one another – to preach hate, twist the love of God, and mistreat people. There is so much abuse in conversion therapy programs. Please take some time to listen to the stories of those who have survived it.
Bullying is a huge issue, especially among LGBT youth.
Suicide rates in the LGBT community are astronomical. LGB youth are 3 times more likely to consider suicide and 5 times more likely to attempt it compared to hetero youth. Reference
They are not protected by discrimination laws in the majority of states. There is no federal protection like there is to prevent discrimination against race, religion, etc… In my state of Ohio, they can be denied housing simply for being gay. They can be fired or denied employment for not being straight. I found that quite shocking when I learned that a few weeks ago.
There is also discrimination in health care.
Discrimination in Christian colleges is one thing that really ruffles my feathers. There are colleges who will take thousands of dollars from people only to not let them graduate because their “lifestyle” goes against the school’s code of conduct. Several such stories have gone viral in the last few months. These schools care more about their brand and their image than they do about their students.
I couldn’t begin to dive into the discrimination and mistreatment in churches and Christian circles. We all know the hateful and rude things people can say. We all know people who use religion as a mask for their bigotry. I honestly don’t know if this is more common than it used to be or if I am seeing it more because I am aware of the issue now. Either way, it outrages me to see people use a loving God as a label to hate people and exclude them.
And, sadly, we all know parents who have disowned children for being gay… Family members that outcast their own family… “Friends” that end friendships when they realize their friend isn’t who they think (s)he is… People who don’t feel safe coming out even to their family and closest friends because they know they will be treated differently…
Last but not least, marriage equality is a recently won victory. Could you imagine if a stranger of a different religious belief told you that you couldn’t marry your spouse because they don’t approve? Whose approval do you need? Consenting adults should be free to marry, period. In 2000 Vermont became the first state recognizing civil unions. In 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. In June of 2015 the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is protected by the constitution (Obergefell v. Hodges). Love won freedom.
The 15 points above are a handful of reasons that LGBT history and current issues are important to know. These are the things I’ve learned in the last few months and the issues that stick out to me.
So why be proud? Why should people care about LGBT rights, especially if they are not part of that community?
A note to Christian readers who think homosexuality is a sin:
I say this gently and with understanding. I wrote this blog for you. I used to be one of those Christians who thought it was sinful to be with someone or even be attracted to someone of the same gender and that it was somehow a necessary component of my faith to publicly declare such. I am not arguing scripture with you or telling you how to live your religion. What I do want is for you to genuinely consider the difference between living out your religious convictions in your own life versus trying to enforce your religious beliefs in someone else’s life. Freedom is for all. Equal rights for them is not fewer rights for you nor does it hinder your ability to live out your marriage and chosen lifestyle as your faith determines. As Christians, we should treat people with love and respect and dignity. Jesus clearly instructed us to love one another, including people who are different than you. (Side note: a lot of gay/lesbian/bi people are Christian. I’m not ignoring that. I’m speaking to the people who think “real” Christians can’t be gay.) As Christians, we should speak up for the oppressed and protect the mistreated. As Americans, we should advocate for freedom and equal rights for everyone, even if they aren’t like you. I hope you will genuinely consider the legal and cultural issues in this blog. We have separation of state and church. Your support politically does not have to be (and should not be) based in your beliefs religiously. Please consider these things with an open mind.