Some of my readers, especially on Facebook (where this blog also appears, as well as on Twitter and Huffington Post) have accused me of hating on Christians. Well, that’s a serious allegation, so please allow me to defend myself.
As a gay American, I’ve been told my entire life by Christians that I, and everyone like me, was immoral, unnatural, perverted, hated by God, would burn in hell. Growing up, as I did, in the 1950s and 1960s, before the gay rights movement had really started, I took these messages in; it was very painful, to me and everyone like me. We went into the closet for self-protection, and most of us stayed there for a long time.
By the 1980s, when I’d moved to San Francisco and developed a political consciousness that included gay rights, I saw the hypocrisy, hatred and sheer stupidity of homophobia. But the anti-gay movement was just getting started. People like Anita Bryant, Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell were given prominent status by the Republican Party, and Ronald Reagan adapted their homophobic rhetoric. We had Falwell telling us San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake was sent to the city by God because it was filled with fags (as if every time a Baptist church is destroyed by a tornado it’s because God hates Christians!). We had a politician here in California, John Briggs, who put an initiative on the statewide ballot, Proposition 6, to fire all gay or Lesbian public school employees and their supporters from their jobs. (Fortunately, the people voted that down.) With the coming of the Clintons, the anti-gay Christians doubled down on their hate talk, now joined by the likes of Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Richard Viguerie, Karl Rove, Michele Bachmann, Bob Jones, Paul Weyrich, Rick Santorum, William Dannemeyer, James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Michael Savage, Fred Phelps, Ralph Reed, Antonin Scalia, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and let’s not forget the Boy Scouts of America. Every single one of these homophobes claimed that their hatred of gay people was based on their Christianity. I put that sentence in italics to emphasize it: These people didn’t just stumble into homophobia. It was instigated by Christian preachers.
For my entire life, I have heard those preachers and their followers tell me that I was a horrible, doomed person, not worthy of respect or even the basic perquisites of citizenship. They were allowed to indulge in their hatefest without opposition because of their Christianity: no one wanted to bash a Christian, much less a famous one. You might think that this sort of homophobia has gone away now that gay marriage is legal and gays are part of the mainstream, thank God. But that’s not true. We still hear these hideous voices of hatred emanating from certain preachers, and even the Catholic Church—despite Pope Francis’s “Who am I to judge?” remark—still officially classifies homosexuality as intrinsically disordered.
So put yourself in my shoes, friends: a lifetime of unrestrained, vile hatred from Christians. I have long wanted to have my say, but I had to be careful, because I had a job (a very public one, at that), and I couldn’t risk getting fired for offending certain powerful groups. So I kept my mouth shut. But I’m retired now. Free at last! So I can say what I want to, and damn the consequences.
Therefore, don’t talk to me about hating on Christians. Take the beam out of thine own eye. Look, I know it’s not all Christians who hate gays. I have an Episcopal church on my street and they’ve flown the rainbow flag for years, and even had a gay minister. So when I criticize homophobic Christians, it’s not aimed at these more liberal Christian sects. I guess that not even all evangelicals are homophobic. But most of them are. (Prove me wrong, if you can.) So why would I not criticize them, in the strongest possible language? They have attempted to disenfranchise me and people like me of our civil rights and freedoms. They have inspired haters to attack us, maim us, even kill us (R.I.P. Matthew Shepard). They have caused heartbreak, emotional pain, families to break up; they have left a trail of tears in their wake. And even today, they aren’t finished. Remember that ridiculous clerk in Kentucky who wouldn’t issue marriage licenses to gays because it was against her Christian religion? Mike Huckabee supported her. And how about that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who told all of the state’s judges they couldn’t marry gays even after the United States Supreme Court said that could? He did that in the name of Christian values, too. As long as one gay person lives, there will be a Christian somewhere attempting to destroy him.
So please! Enough with this hating-on-Christians stuff. If you are a Christian and your particular church still preaches homophobic nonsense, then you have a problem, not me. You may not like to hear it, but the Christian church—going back as far as the Dark Ages and the Inquisition—has wantonly witch-hunted and murdered gay people. And you want me to apologize to Christians? I think not. You need to drop to your knees, beg for forgiveness from your God, and apologize to us.