Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Evolving on Homosexuality

I spent most of my childhood in the '60s. The only thing I knew about being gay was that it meant you were happy. I didn't know much about homosexuality, either, except that I kept hearing a rumor that an older kid we all knew was "queer." And that meant he liked boys. And to me that really was queer.

By the time the '70s rolled around I was in college. I still didn't pay much attention to homosexual talk, but I knew gay people were now considered "normal" according to the overwhelming opinion of the psychological community. But it was a different kind of normal in my opinion. I didn't know any gays personally, at least none who were out. But I didn't openly make fun of them nor shun them as my friends and I had done when I was younger. But I was not in favor of them behaving gay in public. To me it just didn't seem natural.

I knew about the anti-gay movement led by singer and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant. But she objected on biblical grounds. That was not my objection. I wasn't overly concerned with what the bible had to say about modern culture. No, I just thought it was abnormal and kind of creepy.

And that was where my opinion stood for a couple more decades at least. Even when my younger brother came out and told me he was gay I asked him if he had tried to find help. He said he had talked to both a therapist and his pastor and both told him it was normal and just to go with it. Although I accepted him as he was I told him I did not care to hear his stories about love interests.

By then I had a couple of teenagers. Both of them were liberal. My daughter and I had several conversations about gay rights and gay marriage. I kept telling her that I accepted gays but that I didn't understand it biologically. I remember reading a book called "The Human Zoo" by Desmond Morris where he likened aberrant human behavior such as homosexuality to the fact that humans had become captives of their own environment, much like zoo animals. Zoo animals had been observed engaging in homosexual activity, so he drew a parallel.

One day my daughter asked me a series of questions that I had no good answers for. She asked me how other people's homosexuality, gay rights, and even gay marriage would bring harm to me or to society. All I could come up with was that it would break tradition. And that's when it hit me. So what? If it's a bad tradition then maybe it's worth breaking.

So over a period of 40 years or so my attitude toward gays has evolved from mockery and shunning to acceptance at a distance, to active promotion of gay rights and gay marriage. If a church or denomination doesn't accept gay marriage, they are not forced to participate in any gay wedding ceremonies. But to actively oppose it makes no sense to me anymore. Don't get me wrong; I still think two men having sex is creepy. But that's just my own hangup. I try not to let my personal revulsion inform my desire to do what's right by society.

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