Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness: Homophobia

Homophobia is a word that is treated with as much distaste by some in our society as the word homosexual is treated by others. But most have never even taken the time to even look it up in the dictionary. So for those that have not done so I will do it now for you. defines homophobia as (1) unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality (2) Fear or contempt for lesbians and gay men (3) Behavior based on such a feeling. The key word I think is unreasoning. This is usually the case of phobias. They are unreasoning. If you ask the majority of conservatives WHY they are so anti gay the vast majority will respond with one of the following: it's gross; it's wrong;it's an abomination; it's evil; it's destroying the fabric of our society. The list goes on and on. The fact is that all of these arguments are unreasoning and irrational.

Take for instance the argument that homosexuality is destroying the fabric of our society. The argument is that homosexuality will destroy the meaning and sanctity of marriage. Let us consider this argument for a moment. According to the following data available at the CDC ( the divorce rate in 2008 was 3.5%. How could an individual with any ability to reason at all say that the divorce rate has anything to do with that? Let us also take into mind another ironic point. When Prop 8 went through California it was funded by the Mormons who ironically a century ago were teaching and practicing polygamy and were forced to change church doctrine and state law in Utah to become a part of the Union.

I would argue that at the very root of the controversy is a lack of understanding and determination to NOT understand the opposition in this controversy. And I will emphasize that this stubbornness to not understand the opposition is on BOTH sides. To “understand” is to compromise...and neither side is willing to compromise even a little. Both sides, the conservatives and religious anti-gay groups AND the gay and lesbian community, are guilty of this lack of understanding. For the religious conservatives it would be a compromise for them to understand that their religious views are their own and they cannot use the law to take away the rights of others and that the very constitution that defends their right to religious freedom defends the rights of their fellow Americans to the pursuit of happiness. On the other side of the controversy the gay and lesbian community does not understand or care to understand the fears and psychology of the right as well as the right that the right has to their feelings and wanting their children to be raised as they see fit.

Here is the thing, like it or not I do not HAVE to agree with anything. My views and my beliefs, narrow minded or not, are mine to hold and to pass onto my children. That is my right as an American. My views do not HAVE to be politically correct and I am under no obligation to accept and recognize the views and behaviors of others. I am under a moral obligation to respect the views of others if I want my views to be respected. But the truth is that whether I agree with my parents and their bigoted closed minded views or not, I respect their views because this is America and your views are your own to have. What is NOT excusable is when you try to push those views on another group of people. Hold your views as what they are...your views. Pass your views onto your children, that is your right and in some ways your responsibility. But teach your children to respect the rights and views of others. This is where the right fails.

On the other hand I would argue that the gay and lesbian community at some point goes beyond demanding their equal rights to demanding acceptance. Let's face it, right or wrong some people will never acknowledge the sexual nature of the gay and lesbian community as acceptable behavior. Law is possible to change, cultural climate is possible to change, though it takes time, but ideals are not something you can change readily, and emotions are impossible to change without extreme circumstances. If the conservative right must learn to accept change to the cultural climate and acknowledge the rights of the gay and lesbian community, regardless of their religious ideology and emotional bias, then the gay and lesbian community must learn to accept the right of the conservatives to their views and emotions, even to their bias an bigotry. Simply put it is the American way and is jealously protected by the Constitution of the United States. Fight for your rights as American citizens and defend the rights of the conservatives to their own views and ideology. And before you get too much on the defense keep in mind that conflicting ideologies, politics and views are what make this country work.

Now, just briefly, a word about generalizations. Generalization refers to the majority. These comments on understanding are generalizations and refer to the big picture. There are exceptions to the generalizations on both sides. And I don't want to be misunderstood as accusing everybody of being bigoted and hateful, or I am no better then them. It is important that perspective is maintained.

So what causes homophobia? Other than lack of reason and irrational fear? Well there are a lot of things that influence it. Some are irrational of course but I think that it is irresponsible and stereotypical to just group it all into some bigoted religious view. I would argue that religious bigotry and social rejection are the manifestations and excuses used rather than the root cause. Much of what I am about to write is my opinion, that I have come to after many hours and several months of an evolution in my mind regarding this subject. I do not ask you to agree, and actually welcome disagreement. If I am wrong then I invite you to show me where I am wrong. There is, however, a simple logic in what I am about to say.

As a species the human race is a species of survival. We survived the Ice Age. We have survived every hardship Mother Nature has thrown at us. We have somehow survived our own idiocy, wars, bigotry, holocausts and over all stupidity. Cultures have risen and fallen. We have gone from primal neanderthals to a race of individuals overall intellectual and advanced. The common denominator is that we all have an instinct for survival. There are two basic needs for survival as a species. We must feed and we must procreate. These are basic needs for survival that most would agree are written into our very genetics. We must eat to survive as an individual and must procreate to survive as a species. There is a certain mentality in each of us that wants to see our children have children. It is how we survive. It is how we live forever. I am finite and will die one day. When I look at my son I see myself and I will live on when I am gone, in my son...and his son. It is how we think, it is part of how we survive.

I would argue that this fear coupled by a knowledge of the basic mechanics of procreation combine to form a fear. Face it, if the whole population, or even a great majority of the population were gay then our species would die away. Granted, this is not an entirely logical when you take into mind science and such but it in the end the result is basically the same, a man and a woman are needed to procreate, and no amount of arguing will change that. The result is that now the human need for survival kicks in and now must be explained, and must be justified. This is where religion comes in. I have always argued control is the basic driving force behind religion. In this case, the need for survival manifests itself through religion providing the moral rules that make homosexuality wrong. Religion establishes the absolutes. These absolutes come from fear and come from this basic need for survival.

I would argue that religion's biased and bigoted views are a manifestation of this fear. In a culture where religion is the driving force, such as the one here in the United States, the social bias is not to be unexpected. Other nations do not have this issue. My friend, Donna, from England told me just the other day that in England bi sexual is the new black. It is common and is not socially frowned on as much as it is here. My brother tells me that in the countries he has been to in the military, women were for procreation and men for pleasure. The point is that religion has perpetuated these biases and fears and is why it is stronger in a nation such as ours, where faith and religion is allowed in such a privileged and powerful influence.

I dare not claim to understand it all, and I am still working my way to a clearer and logical understanding. I am trying to get beyond the rhetoric though and get to an understanding of both sides. I grew up on the right, as I have mentioned. I grew up spouting all the same hate filled rhetoric and biased prejudices I was raised with. But I never took the time to understand the psychology behind it. I am trying to understand that now. I never took the time to attempt to understand the mentality and the psychology behind the gay and lesbian community. I am trying to do that. I went from a homophobic mentality to one where I have friends who are gay and I see them as individuals...I no longer see them as gay and lesbian. It took a change of mind, a transformation of thought...and that is what I will discuss in my next blog.

Once again...I welcome and request comments...your input is appreciated.


Iris Silk said...

I would point out that not all religions exclude gays. In fact several ordain them as ministers as well as welcome them to participate in all aspects of worship. Prejudice and fear are not always rooted in religious beliefs.

Mandy said...

After thinking about it a bit, I would say that it is more important to teach your children to think for themselves, not so much to pass your views on to them. It is our responsibility to teach them to do what you are doing, to reason, to look at both sides, logically and reasonably and to come up with their own decisions based on that study.

It is important now, more than ever, that our children learn how to form their own opinions and views. If each generation only passed down their own views and so on and so forth we would never evolve as a more understanding and tolerant nation.

Children learn what they see. They learn by watching their parents. They should be taught their opinions, if thoroughly thought out and believed in, will be respected by their parents, perhaps not agreed with, but respected.

Darkwulfe said...

Iris Silk...This is a good point and one that I admit I had not really considered, I guess to a point my experience with religion has not been one that was very accepting or open minded and it is easy to sometimes forget that some have moved away from the rhetoric and are making a move to evolve, though I would argue (just because I am playfully stubborn like that) that the evolution is very slow and will always be limited.

Mandy...on the one hand I would agree with you. As you know from conversation I believe in first and foremost teaching my children to think for themselves. On the other hand, the point I really wanted to make in the blog is that if I choose to be bigoted and biased I DO have that right to pass it on to my children, whether it is right or wrong. I argue this, not so much for myself, but rather to make the point that everybody in this country has that right (and some might even feel responsiblity) to raise their children in their beliefs...sometimes misguided beliefs. As a result, certain things, ideals and behaviors, will never be "accepted" fully. Not saying that that is right, it just is.

Opinionated Gifts said...

The difference in acceptance here, and I think it's pretty significant, is that while the religious right, or other homophobic groups are fighting to keep their fellow Americans from having equal rights whereas the gay and lesbian community is fighting to HAVE those rights.

Some may be fighting for acceptance, and I agree that's something that can only happen over time. And usually does. But I can't begrudge them the desire for it.

As you stated in your last entry, removing rights from another member of the state is, frankly, unAmerican.

The burden here is on the Right (many of whom are gay and lesbian).

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