Father Tony

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Filed By Father Tony | March 05, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Bible, Christian beliefs, gay sex, LGBT religion, Mormon, Prop 8

This week, I thought I'd use this space to see if something can be learned from the 158 comments that have been left to date on my YouTube video of the gay protest at the Mormon Temple in New York City in November of 2008.

Here is a condensed list of some of the anti-gay comments.

Some of them are from Mormons. Others are angry, threatened and deluded God-fearers. Some are from those who feel that this LGBT protest showed the world that we who would dare to attack a church are not nice people. Some highlight what they feel are the horrifying things they assume we do in the course of having sex. Others warn us of the fires of hell. Some want us to be happy with what we have. Others outright deny that the Mormon Church spent money to influence the vote. Some honestly believe that marriage is exclusively for a man and a woman.

If I were locked in a room with these commenters for five minutes, and could make five points, I'd have to make good use of my time to say a few words that might help change their minds. Although it might be futile, here is what I'd say.

  1. If those of you who hate me were up to your necks in quicksand (like in those old Tarzan movies?) and if I were the only person in the jungle who could save you, I would pull you out. I don't want a world that is totally gay.

    This world is like a salad bar. The best ones have the widest variety, with no two people (even the gay ones) making the same choices. Do you really want a world in which all the fruits and veggies are the same? I'm not asking you to eat me. I just want you to ask yourself why, if you don't like the carrots, you feel the need to have them permanently banished from the salad bar.

  2. Some of you think I am going to hell, and because of your religious beliefs you are going to heaven. You feel that God is telling you this. Please compare your convictions to those of the men who piloted jets into the twin towers. They were sure that they would soon be rewarded with seventy virgins. Do you think they got their virgins?

    Think of the folks in Guyana who drank the Kool-Aid as their ticket to paradise. Not so different. I don't want you to turn your backs on God, I just want you to begin to meet God as adults, not as rodents who scurry for cover when overtaken by the shadow of a bird of prey, or as frightened islanders who tried to sacrifice Fay Wray to a demanding King Kong.

    If you could just relax with God, you'd come to see me and most gay people as the harmless folks we really are. You could then pick us as friends or enemies because of our virtues or shortcomings, and not because of our basic orientation.

  3. Since the beginning of time, humans have feared what they do not understand. The sun, the moon, the lightning and thunder, the furies of the oceans. You do not understand gay, but when your son tells you he is gay, you won't be able to pray it away any more than you can the lightning that strikes a church steeple or the flood that drowns an elderly couple. These things are natural and random. You can't control them and you should not personalize them.

  4. Granting gay people equal rights and protections does not in the slightest diminish what you already have. Do feel your voice in government is weakened or diluted because women and blacks were given the right to vote? If while watching CNN, you should hear that gays have been granted full rights to marriage, will you turn to look at your spouse and wonder if the love you share has become instantly weaker or devalued? I think they'd be justifiably angry with you, if you did.

  5. I have always thought that if you became convinced that gay people would never again have gay sex, you'd grant us all the rights in the world. If we were just fey men or butch women with no sex lives, you'd be OK with us. I think it is your imagining of us having sex that drives you into a frenzy.

    To me, this indicates that in your hearts there are floodgates you have worked hard all your lives to keep closed. You somehow fear that if gay is made OK, you'll have to abandon this work. You'll react like some prisoners who have been behind bars for decades, or like some rehabbed folks who have been institutionalized for decades. When they are told that they are now free, they beg to be allowed to stay within the confines of the life they have learned to endure. The open road can be a scary place for such a one.

    The "inner gay" is strongest in those who rail against us most vociferously. Study the conversion of Saint Paul in the light of this thought.

Oh well, I tried, but as it says somewhere in the bible "They will not listen, even if someone should come back from the dead."

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I suspect that drawing analogies between Prop 8 proponents and either the 9/11 hijackers or the folks in Guyana, let alone both, is not the best way to get them to see your point. Comparing them to rodents might also be considered impolitic.

Winning over hearts and minds is a slow process that most successfully begins with getting to know people who disagree with you and having them come to see you as a good person. When they see a particular, good person being denied rights, they're most likely to have a change of heart.

If life is like a salad bar, I want to be the cottage cheese. It always sits by itself to the side, but almost everyone gets a little bit. :)

beachcomberT | March 6, 2009 7:39 AM

Great post. I think very few Americans are familiar with the Kinsey research, despite the Hollywood movie, and still feel panicked over their own gay thoughts, dreams or actual experiences. If schools were allowed to teach that bisexuality, to a greater or lesser degree, is the true "normal," I think we'd have a lot more tolerance in U.S. society.

Paul Cook-Giles | March 8, 2009 6:51 PM

The verse you're thinking of is in the story of Lazarus, in Luke 16: "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (v. 31)

I esp. enjoyed the salad bar example surely everyone can relate to a salad bar and not be offended. I once tried the Taliban comparison with my christian sister...she didn't get it.