Can Someone Not Be Homophobic If They Have Gay Relatives and Friends?

Does the following comment made by someone in a discussion on Facebook yesterday appear homophobic to you?

“It's not homophobia. My sister is gay and so is my best friend. They never push or force their agendas on anyone. It's like pushing religion that you don't believe in or don't want to be a part of. And this is what's happening and it's not right and disrespectful!”

The so-called "gay agenda" is nothing more than a desire to be included within the meaning of "All" in "Liberty and Justice for All." The "anti-gay agenda" and "anti-LGBT agenda" among so-called "social conservatives", is nothing more than a concerted effort to dehumanize LGBT people and exclude them from the meaning of "All" in "Liberty and Justice for All.”

As such, I’m really trying to understand how someone whose sister and best friend are both gay and who claims not to be homophobic would be talking about gay people pushing or forcing “their agendas on anyone.”

How do members of marginalized groups obtain equality, if they don’t pursue it? Do they just wake up one day and discover that they received equality out of thin air? How do members of minority groups receive civil rights, that’s the question.

The term ‘civil rights’ refers to statutory and court-mandated protections from discrimination and other forms of unequal treatment on the basis of national origin, race, gender, and other such characteristics. Civil rights also include freedom from cruel or otherwise excessive force by police officers or other government agents.”

In 2011, The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, published an article titled How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? which provided as follows:

An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender…. Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay). Women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual.”

So, let me ask once more – How does a group of people which consists of less than two percent of the population obtain equal rights if it doesn’t pursue them?

The following is a quote from Harvey Milk:

Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”

When people complain about the “gay agenda”, do they mean that gay people shouldn’t come out? Or, do they mean that gay people shouldn’t do anything to combat how they are portrayed by those who aren’t themselves gay and who refuse to accept them, let alone tolerate them?

If a gay person does such things, is that “like pushing religion that you don't believe in or don't want to be a part of”?

When a person pushes “religion that you don’t believe in or don’t want to be a part of,” are they doing so to try and convert you to their religion or are they trying to help you to understand their belief system in order to better understand them?

This is an important distinction because people can and do change their religious affiliation and beliefs. In fact, don’t religious missionaries and evangelizers advocate a cause with the object of making converts?

However, if the person isn’t trying to convert you; rather, they are trying to help you to better understand them, is that “pushing religion that you don't believe in or don't want to be a part of”?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines empathy as follows:

The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.”

According to Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project, “social and emotional skills, such as empathy, [are] needed to treat people well day to day.” It’s also been said that “empathy is what makes us human.”

How do we empathize with others if we don’t even attempt to understand their perspective?

Unlike people’s beliefs, religious and otherwise, people’s sexual orientation and gender identity don’t tend to change over time.

Remember, there are slightly more people who identity as bisexual than there are those who identify as gay and lesbian combined.

If someone is bisexual, does their sexual orientation change based upon the gender of the person with whom they are sexually involved? I’m afraid not – They are bisexual regardless.

If they choose not to act on their attraction to one gender or the other, does that mean they are not bisexual? I’m afraid not. It just means that they are not acting on their bisexuality.

It bears mentioning that The Williams Institute also found the following:

Estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as LGB. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.”

When people refer to “same-sex attraction” rather than sexual orientation, shouldn’t they be limiting such a distinction to those who don’t otherwise identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual? After all, there’s a difference between sexual attraction and sexual identity.

If you identify as being straight, are you sexually attracted to all members of the opposite sex?

I’m very comfortable stating that gays and lesbians are not attracted to every person of their same gender. I’m equally comfortable stating that bisexual people are not sexually attracted to everyone.

If someone is only sexually attracted to a particular gender, does anyone seriously believe that attempting to dull such attraction will somehow make them sexually attracted to the other gender? I’m afraid human sexuality doesn’t work that way.

Understanding LGBT people better no more makes straight people gay than “conversion therapy” makes gay people straight.

In other words, when someone says LGBT people should “never push or force their agendas on anyone - It’s like pushing religion that you don’t believe in or don’t want to be a part of”, aren’t they really saying they don’t want to understand the LGBT person’s perspective?

If that’s the case, isn’t that “not right and disrespectful”?

If the individual whose sister and best friend are gay isn’t homophobic, is he friend or foe of the LGBT community and its members, including his sister and best friend?

My mother had a gay son and close friends who were gay and she was undeniably homophobic. I know because I lived it.

I’m afraid that having gay relatives and even a gay best friend doesn’t mean you aren’t homophobic, but I guess that depends upon how you define that term.

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