Last week, my oldest daughter attended a funeral for a boy she had known since junior high. He was adorable, intelligent, and funny, and he was gay.
This attractive and clever young man had everything to live for, and entire lifetime ahead of him, but he chose to hang himself because of his father. You see, after coming out to his family about being homosexual, his father told him he had a “condition” and that he could be “cured” of it if he only had enough belief in his church and in himself.
This attitude exemplified by the father that being gay is some sort of phase, or something like a flu virus, is one that unfortunately too many otherwise reasonable people share. It is ignorance made manifest in the form of words that sound as if they are supportive, but that really condemn the individual at whom they are directed.
To make matters worse, after attending the funeral service and signing the online guest book, my daughter received an email from the young man’s family inviting her to attend a “discussion” about the “condition” that this boy had. In utter disgust, my daughter stormed into the room where I was knitting and screamed, “He didn’t have a condition, he was gay!”
I must confess, I was extremely proud of her. I have tried to raise open-minded children who appreciate and respect people for who they are, not for the labels that others put on them. And I completely agreed with her statement.
Claiming this young man had a condition is ignoring the obvious: that homosexuality is a biological aspect of human life. It’s not a lifestyle decision; it’s not something arbitrary that a kid chooses to try and then becomes addicted to like a drug. This idea that it is a condition is blatantly ignorant of the basic conditions of human sexuality.
I would challenge this young man’s father to pinpoint the moment in his life that he made the choice to be straight. At what point in time was it his conscious decision to date and become intimate with women over men. I’m sure the man would be horrified to confront that question, but the point is that he didn’t make a conscious choice; neither did his son.
Homosexuality is not created; it is not an artificial form of sexuality that can be involuntarily foisted upon an unsuspecting kid. The more that we understand human development, human sexuality, and the centers of the brain that control sexual response, the more we come to see that homosexuality is as fundamentally a part of our existence as is heterosexuality. What is abnormal is forced A-sexuality, such as is practiced by the leaders of certain religions – and no, I’m not singling out any one religion. There are numerous religions that require celibacy, though recent history would show us that forced celibacy leads to more deviant behavior than does homosexuality.
It is normal for human beings to fear what they don’t understand, and to lash out at it with violent or condemning words or actions. But in an age such as this, with round-the-clock access to the latest research and information, there is not excuse for this type of backward and archaic thinking.
How many more of our beautiful, bright young people are we going to allow to be sacrificed on the altar of ignorance? How many more funerals will our children attend for their friends, only to be told that this was best because this child wouldn’t ever really fit in. It’s heartbreaking, but probably true that there will be many more stories like this one before we finally achieve an understanding and appreciation for ALL members of our community. May God have mercy on us for our blatant stupidity until then.