Just Leave Jodie Foster Alone

Fundamentalism, as a belief system, is an ugly, intolerant view of the world and no more attractive when exhibited within the LGBT community. A lot of people think one can't have fundamentalism within the community, especially among those leading the fight for social tolerance and legal equality.

But you can!

One trait of the fundamentalist is an inability to see others as unique individuals. The fundamentalist needs others to be just like him. I suspect this is the result of him feeling insecure about himself, perhaps simply disliking who he is and needing the affirmation found when others are exactly the same.

Let's take the recent, somewhat rambling speech by Jodie Foster as an example. No sooner was she done, than various members of the community were penning angry screeds attacking her. Some were angry that her coming out wasn't explicit enough. Others whined that she didn't do it soon enough. Some claimed she had a "duty" to the community to come out.

I read one absurdly angry tirade where the author was condemnatory because Foster hadn't emulated the author by coming out when she was young. I was out picketing anti-gay fundamentalists and doing radio shows on gay rights, when still a college student -- back when attitudes generally were a lot less accepting.

I never assumed that every other gay man should follow my example. They have to live their own lives. The very idea that you can damn another for not doing what you did is a denial of their individual circumstances.

I've never been Jodie Foster; I can't say what she should have done in her circumstances -- I've never been there, nor have any of her critics. They never experienced the life she lived. What audacity to lecture her, for not living their life!

Some people are so obsessed with our collective trait as a sexual minority that they forget we are all individuals.

There is no "right" time to come out. Some are ready to do it when young; others need more time. Some should have waited longer than they did -- I'm thinking of those who suffered so much harassment that they took their own lives.

There is this insidious idea, however, that every member of the LGBT community has a duty to fight for the cause, and to sacrifice their own happiness for some "greater good." Sorry, but that is a creed I oppose with every fiber of my being.

I want a safe world for every kid out there, gay or straight. I especially want LGBT young people to be able to come out safely when ready to do so, on their own terms, not those of some activists willing to sacrifice lives of others for their political agenda. You have every right to decide what sacrifices you are willing to make and no right to demand that others make them on your behalf.

Your agenda may well be good, but some of the most tyrannical people justify their actions by appealing to a greater good.

It is so easy to convince yourself that what you are fighting for is so good you are willing to sacrifice others to your cause. It is easy to forget they have a right to live their lives, for their own sake. That is what we once fought for -- the right to be different.

Once religion or politics gets into our being, however, it is so easy to fall into the fundamentalist trap and to condemn other people for not being like us, or for not agreeing with us. We see we have so much to gain that we become willing to sacrifice others to our cause, ultimately inflicting pain and suffering similar to that which we strive to eradicate.

When Jodie Foster spoke, she spoke from her heart and from her experience. Of course she didn't sound like you, or me. How could she? Why should she?

If you really are self-accepting, and self-actualizing, you don't need everyone to live your life, hold your beliefs, speak like you, and act like you. Intolerance and fear of diversity, I think, come from the same place -- deep insecurity about who you are and what kind of person you have become. Damning others is merely the salve you apply to your own wounds. You may think you are crowing about how adjusted you are; it really appears to be more of a confession of your own fears and insecurities.