Beliefs about homosexuality;
Unstated reasons to deny equal rights
to gays and lesbians;
A homophobia fighter
Beliefs about sexual orientation:
Conservatives within all of the major religions in North
America, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or other are generally
opposed to equal rights and protections for gays and lesbians. But essentially all of the
politically-active organizations opposing equal
rights are either overtly conservative Christian associations, or
organizations that are composed almost entirely of conservative Christians. One can often
identify the groups by their names, which usually include the words "Christian"
or "family." So, the organized political battle for and
against equal rights for gays and lesbians is
not between homosexual and heterosexual groups; it is
between homosexual and conservative religious groups.
The following chart indicates
differences in beliefs between those who are very conservatives and very
liberal. There are at least four additional positions
held by many people and groups between these two extremes. The chart is, of necessity, somewhat
brief and simplistic:
||Most very conservative faith groups and
social action groups
||Most gay, lesbian, religious liberals,
medical and mental health professionals, human sexuality research groups
|Nature of homosexuality
||A choice; what some people do.
||An orientation; what some people are.
|Can gays become straight?
||Yes, through therapy, prayer and as a result of being "saved."
||No. Homosexuality is unchangeable in adults.
|Cause(s) of sexual orientation
||One's upbringing; being molested as a young person; being exposed to gay
||Genetics, triggered by an unknown environmental factor in early childhood
|Criminalization of homosexual behavior
||Various beliefs, from strongly favored to opposition.
|Marriage for gays & lesbians
||Various; trending towards acceptance.
|What determines sexual sin?
||Both homosexual acts and desires are intrinsically
||The nature of the relationship, and the safety of the
|What gay or lesbian sexual activity is sinful?
||All homosexual acts are sinful.
||Coercive, manipulative or unsafe sex is sinful -- for
both gay and straight.
|Bible statements about gay sex
||Many passages condemn it.
||Bible condemns homosexual rape, prostitution, orgies,
sex in Pagan temples, sexual activity against one's nature.
|Why was Sodom destroyed?
||Lack of charity towards strangers, including rape.
|Same-sex relationships in the Bible
||All sexually active homosexuals will go to Hell.
||For those who believe in Heaven and Hell, they believe
that homosexuals and heterosexuals will be treated equally.
Unstated reasons for denying equal rights to homosexuals and others
||Fear of being marginalized: North America is evolving into a society which treats
heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals as three different, natural and valid sexual
orientations. Gays are becoming a protected group of people, just like African-Americans,
females, Muslims, Germans, Roman Catholics etc. People who remain anti-gay will begin to
be considered bigots by the general population. In the words of one conservative
Christian, "I don't want the federal government to marginalize me or the millions
of others who share my beliefs."
||The need to hate: Some people with low self-esteem appear to need to identify
some minority that they can hate and feel superior to. Over the past 50 years,
African-Americans, Communists and now gays and lesbians have fulfilled this role in sequence.
If their religious faith supports bigotry against that minority, then they are given
additional justification for their hatred. Many churches teach that one must love the
homosexual while hating the homosexuality; this message is sometimes lost on
they end up hating both the homosexual and the homosexuality. If you disagree with this
statement, just look at the faces contorted with rage at any meeting or demonstration
attended by those opposed for equal rights for homosexuals.
||Fear of their own sexuality: A study at the University of
Georgia showed that most men, who the researchers defined as
homophobic, experienced significant sexual arousal when watching a
homosexual movie involving sex between two men. Their rate was more than
double the rate of non-homophobic men. Latent homosexual desires, of
which the men may not have been aware, may be a cause of homophobia
which may lead to a desire to deny equal rights to gay males.
This essay continues below.
Rhea Murray is a member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). She
has given permission for the dissemination of this essay on the Internet. She writes about
her efforts in support of GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transsexual) people in the
"To all those who have been in the trenches and feel the stress of burnout:
Burn-out is a problem that afflicts many dedicated people. I think the risk of burn-out
is less likely when you are closer to the battle line. I have been asked to speak at many
different large metropolitan areas in this last year. One thing I continuously encounter
is shock at the horror stories that is daily life for GLBT people and their families in
the heartland of our country. I know that homophobia, hatred and fear abound in all
communities. But for many small communities across the nation this is still 1950's...with
the 1950's mindset.
I have done 15 speaking engagements this last year. I still have not conquered my fear
of public speaking. Each engagement is a gut-wrenching war with my number one phobia.
Sometimes I whoop the dragon; sometimes it whoops me. Rumors has it that my ex-minister is
threatening to file a libel civil suit against me for telling my story.
My home has been broken into twice within the last six weeks. Nothing is ever taken. It
is as though someone wants us to know that their menacing presence has been here. The
police asked if we had any enemies. Now we are beginning to receive harassing phone calls
with a mechanized voice. I am having personal crisis issues going on in my life. My
response to all this...well, I plan to take a huge step in being more out in my community
by approaching all the local newspapers about our chapter's presence in their community
and to promote the hotline number for the national Family-to-Family hotline.
Why? This last year I have personally dealt with the following:
Their faces, their eyes, their stories haunt me. They build a fire in my belly...a fire
so intense that it threatens to consume me, if I do not take action. These are our
children, our brothers, our sisters. They are bleeding. They are dying. And they are
bleeding and dying in a world that does not give a damn about them. They need us. Oh,
how they need us.
||homeless, abandoned by family, teenage lesbians living in a storage shed in the dead of
winter - one was pregnant;
||Jimmy being denied access to his dying, beloved Jamie;
||a desperate search for a teenage boy who was attempting suicide - luckily we reached him
at the very moment he was taking an Xacto knife to his wrists;
||a teenage boy who was forcefully committed to a mental hospital, when his parents
discovered he was gay;
||another boy who was made to crawl on his hands and knees and beg forgiveness, so his
parents would allow him to continue to live with them - his parents have forced a life of
total isolation on this fine, young man who was just beginning to bloom into his affirming
||a seventeen year old sitting in my living room who just had the hospital bind his wounds
from a recent gaybashing to have me help bind the more permanent wounds on his dignity;
||a fifteen year old lesbian whose parents changed the locks on their home to deny their
daughter even her personal belongings;
||dealing with the realization that my Eddie who is dying of AIDS has to be driven over an
hour to find a hospital who won't mistreat him; and lastly,
||this weekend a gay youth in my son's support group decided life had become too
unbearable and flung himself out of a speeding car.
Please take the much deserved respite to ease the burden of burnout. But please do not
forget their plight and those of us on the front lines who have no one to step in, if we
have a need to step down. Our respites come in small victories that are few and far
between. Rest, relax and then come back with renewed vigor to fight. For this indeed is a
war...a war in which the only bodies that lie at our feet are those of our GLBT loved
Forgive me. It is not I who speaks but the fire that burns within.
Love and peace,
Rhea Murray "
Copyright © 2005, 2004 and earlier by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-FEB-17
Author: B.A. Robinson