Last week I read this article about a male teenager who received a love letter from another male in his school. The recipient of the letter acted perfectly, he stated that he was straight and still wanted to be friends. Basically, he acted the same way he would if a female he wasn’t interested in gave him the letter. Thanks to Dan Savage and the many positive gay friends I’ve had in my life during the last decade or so I recognize how to behave in this type of situation. In fact, I had something similar to me happen not that long ago and I occasional find myself in gay bars where I get hit on occasionally. I think it is important for an ally to know how to handle these situations appropriately.
Unfortunately, if I had been in high school and received a love letter from a man my response would not be the same as it would have been today. I certainly wouldn’t have responded with anger or violence but I would have been disgusted to a degree that would have been impossible to hide. The closest thing to this that happened to me was a peer, who was openly gay, asked if I thought gay marriage should be legalized. I visibly shuddered and told him “no, marriage is between a man and a woman”, but like most conservatives of my age I had no reason or logic to back up that argument beyond Biblical references.
I can’t remember anything in my Christian upbringing that particularly focused on homosexuality but somewhere along the line I picked up that it was a special kind of sin, despite the constant “hate the sin, love the sinner” that was preached from the pulpit. Maybe it was the focus it received when I rarely (if ever) heard mention of thieves, liars, murderers, rapists, or other “sinners” mentioned on stage. I don’t know really… trying to reflect on the causation of prejudices is complex and it is impossible to be objective when looking at ones own life.
I am happy to say that things are getting better though. As my views have changed so have many other people. The youth of today are not willing to fight the culture war over gay marriage and sexual preferences and acts are becoming the private decisions of individuals as they should be. I find many phrases within the sex positive world to be clumsy and overwhelming (I still don’t know what “queer” means or even if an objective definition exists), and I look forward to the day when we abandon them completely and just accept that if two or more people love each other that is great, regardless of the identity we place on them. Some day, soon I hope, love will be love and we won’t need categories to identify what genitalia is present in each party.