[Cross-posted at Our Big Gayborhood]
For a brief moment during the Prop 8 debacle, the national discourse surrounding same-sex marriage shifted away from families and instead centered around whether one man, "marriage defender" David Blankenhorn, was a bigot. As distracting from the substantive issue as it was to have various folks, both gay and straight, debate this Matter of Supreme Importance in national op-eds, the conversation does speak to the frustration that many feel with the power of the word bigot to shut down dialogue.
However, the bigot bomb is hardly a one-way shot. Increasibly, prominent anti-gay voices like the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage have begun turning the tables, implying and outright calling LGBT equality advocates intolerant bigots. Because bigotry is a human failing rather than an anti-gay or pro-gay one, it should come as no surprise that intolerant bigots would also exist on "our" side of the ideological aisle.
Thus, following the lead of Rob Tsinani, who posted his responses at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, I too am going to (as briefly as possible) respond to the 20 (weasily-worded) questions that purport to answer the Big Pressing Question of whether or not a person is a "pro-gay bigot." (I used the Google to find the original source of these questions, and they seem to emanate from an anti-abortion, anti-gay Christian ministry page that is no longer active and/or from this Yahoo message board by poster "pro_family_activist." The questions were also posted at the pro-Prop 8 "Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman" Facebook page. Also, because I don't want to conflate sexual orientation with gender identity, I have intentionally omitted the "T" from LGBT, in case anyone thinks I've unintentionally left out transgender folks.)
Here we go:
1. Do you believe in free speech about homosexuality for everyone except conservatives or Christians?
While noting that this question erroneously conflates anti-gay ideology with both conservatism and Christianity, I do not support censorship of anti-gay statements.
2. Do you participate in name-calling of those who object to homosexuality — names like bigot, hate-monger, etc.?
This question seems to problematically assume that no anti-gay person is deserving of being called a bigot or hate-monger, and thus reads as an attempt to silence the label when it is appropriate. I don't think a person who opposes LGB equality is automatically a bigot but, like Rob Tsinani, I would argue that those who engage in or support sexuality-based bullying, assault, fear-mongering, hostility, harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, or murder would fall under the category of hateful or bigoted.
3. Do you believe ‘gays’ have been deprived of the right to marry?
First, it's just gays. Not "gays." If this is to be a dialogue, shouldn't anti-gay folks make the simple concession of not questioning the label many in the community choose to identify with? Secondly, yes, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals have been deprived of the right to marry the person of their choice.
Doesn’t pretty much everyone have the right to marry now — to a person of the opposite sex?
This question implies that since bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians currently have the right to marry persons of the other sex just as heterosexuals do, marriage laws do not discriminate against LGB people. Here, I would advise the asker of this question to become informed about what sexual orienation means. To suggest that the right for a lesbian to marry a man is a meaningful right is an uninformed argument. To paraphrase the great (!) Justice Scalia, A tax on yarmulkes, after all, is effectively a tax on Jews.
4. Do you believe those who object to homosexuality are motivated by fear or ignorance?
I think that some people who object to homosexuality are indeed motivated by fear and/or ignorance. See above, regarding those who believe entering into a male-female marriage is an acceptable, good, or viable option for gay men and lesbians.
Do you believe they could never be motivated by compassion for the people involved, and if they say so, they must be lying?
Although I strongly disagree with the notion that LGB people are in need of compassion solely because of our sexual orientations, I do think that some people hold their anti-gay views out of compassion for those they view as living in an unhealthy, morally wrong, and/or unacceptable "lifestyle" that condemns those "involved" to "Hell."
5. Do you believe some people will just inevitably be homosexual, and that there’s a set percentage of the population that will always be ‘gay’, and that this won’t increase, even if a culture embraces ‘gay’ sex?
Yes. I think that if a culture "embraces 'gay' sex," it is logical to expect more people to act upon their sexual orientations and attractions to those of the same sex.
Do you think homosexual experimentation could never become ‘chic’ and popular?
It is already somewhat "chic" and "popular" for two attractive women to engage in non-threatening displays of sexual interest with each other. However, rather than being legitimate acceptance of "homosexual experimentation," it is acceptable only if it occurs on patriarchally-approved terms. The women have to be feminine and attractive and must be engaging in the behavior primarily for purposes of heterosexual male tilillation.
Is there no risk for the people involved or our culture if this happens?
Female-female sex has lower rates of STD transmission than both male-female sex and male-male sex, and the CDC has yet to document a case of female-female sexual transmission of HIV. More women having sex with each other would be a good thing from a public health standpoint. However, this question seems to have a male-centricity to it that assumes that (a) male homosexual behavior is becoming "chic" and "popular" and that, (b) therefore, we must worry about rising HIV/AIDS rates. Actually, tolerance of homosexuality corresponds with less risky sex and, consequently, lower rates of HIV/AIDS infection in gay and bisexual male populations.
As for the risk to "our culture," I would have to know how the author defines "our culture" (and, of course, what people don't count as legitimate members of that culture) before I could answer that.
6. Do you automatically dismiss any conservative comments about homosexuality without listening?
Here, I'm going to echo what Rob said: "No. I dismiss lots of conservative comments because I do listen. And then I write a blog post detailing the factual and logical errors."
Do you believe you are well-informed, while refusing to learn about what homosexuals actually do and the risks involved?
Ditto: "I do believe I am well-informed, despite the best efforts of conservatives to deceive the public about what homosexuals actually do." Furthermore, as a "homosexual" myself, I am intimately familiar with what "homosexuals actually do" and the alleged "risks involved," presumably more than most heterosexuals.
7. Do you believe that the tragedy of any suicide by someone involved in homosexuality is the fault of conservatives?
I believe those who espouse hostility toward homosexuality and LGB people and who dedicate their lives to demonizing us contribute to feelings of hopelessness and self-hate that would cause someone to view death as a better alternative to living as a gay person. Such anti-gay folks don't cause suicide, but I do think they are a contributing factor. It is disingenuous and ignorant to discount the effect of social stigma, prejudice, and hatred of LGB people on the suicidality and mental health status of LGB people.
Is the best solution to these tragedies to demand that everyone in America accept homosexuality?
I believe the increased suicidality of LGB people could be lessened if Ameria was more accepting of LGB people. Yet, I believe it is an oxymoronic concept to suggest that people can be forced, through others' demands, to accept something. Those who are "accepting" of homosexuality only because it has been demanded of them do not truly accept homosexuality. So no, demanding acceptance is not "the best solution" to the tragedies of LGB suicide.
That being said, given that anti-gay folks have yet to propose a viable "solution" to these "tragedies" and that the effect of anti-gay bias on LGB people is so harmful, I find it sad, uncompassionate, and appalling that those who claim the moral high road remain so stubbornly unaccepting.
8. Do you automatically dismiss the idea that anyone could be a former homosexual, despite the hundreds of groups started by ex-‘gays’ and the thousands who live in America?
Automatically? No. I dismiss the idea because reviews of ex-gay studies have found that true change to sexual orientation is rare and that after "ex-gay therapy" same-sex attractions persist.
9. Do you believe that homosexuals are born that way?
From the research I have read, no compelling evidence definitively demonstrates the origins of human sexuality.
Do you refuse to consider the evidence against this claim?
Have you ever looked at the connection between child sexual abuse and later homosexual attraction?
From the research I have read, no compelling evidence definitively demonstrates the origins of human sexuality. The author of this question seems to suggest otherwise.
Tomorrow, I will post the rest of the questions with my responses.