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A friend of mine recently found a book in his mother’s house called, “Are You Still My Mother? Are You Still My Family?” by Gloria Guss Back. It was written “for the parents of a Gay child…a guide to handling your feelings, dealing with the world, and accepting your child.”

This book was published in 1985. Comparing this to literature published recently reveals differences – and far too many similarities.

The word “homosexual” is used more often, as opposed to “gay.” (I think “homosexual” will someday become an antiquated word in society – like the word “negro.”)

There were few role models for gay people. Nearly everyone was closeted to some extent. People just didn’t talk about it.

But the social stigma associated with being gay is just as strong in some circles as it was back in 1985.

Religious beliefs are the most cited reason for people’s opposition to homosexuality. This book quotes a sermon of William Coffin, Jr., Ph.D.

“Clearly, it is not Scripture that creates hostility to homosexuality, but rather hostility to homosexuality that prompts certain Christians to retain a few passages from an otherwise discarded code.”

From Brian McNaught, “Gay and Catholic:” (emphasis mine)

“As a Catholic who is also Gay I gamble that the Church has totally misinterpreted the Will and word of God…. The Bible has been used to justify human actions since the first ink dried on Chapter One of Genesis. We have used it to condemn Jews, maintain slaves, keep women in what we imagine to be their ‘place,’ condemn non-Catholics, condemn borrowing money from banks, condemn masturbation, justify the Crusades, condemn inoculation and a variety of other practices or attitudes we weren’t comfortable holding alone but insisted that everyone else hold, too…. Traditions change by weight of new discovery.”

This from “Judaism in the Gay Community,” by Barret L. Brick, discusses another argument, which is mainly used to condemn same sex marriage today:

“Procreation, marriage, family life – these imperatives are bound up within Judaism and have continually been cited as prime reasons why homosexuality has no place within Judaism….

“Sexuality within Judaism is not seen as solely procreative in function, but is equally valid as an expression of love in and of itself. If this is the case for non-Gay Jews, this must also be the case for [all] Jews. Once the procreative imperative is removed from sexuality, there is no barrier to a proper understanding of homosexuality within Judaism, save for the centuries-old interpretations of two passage in Leviticus.”

All this is from just a few pages in this book. The author goes on a journey with several families as they try to come to terms with their gay children. She also quotes many others’ reactions to this discovery, which range from fully accepting to public humiliation and excommunication from the family.

That’s unconditional love for ya, but unfortunately, this is still very much a reality for many gay kids who come out.

It also talks about the “coming out” journey for the parents. This issue comes up a lot in PFLAG. The timing of these simultaneous journeys – parents and children - is sometimes tricky to navigate.

The other day, I participated in a speaker’s bureau for a class studying to be school counselors. The main issue for them is how do they help lgbt students, and how do they show that their office is a safe place.

This was a very positive experience for me, and a sign that the attitudes of people will continue to grow and change for the better.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 24th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
Have you seen For the Bible Tells Me So? It addresses a lot of the issues you quoted. Before I saw it I never really thought about how the words can be twisted around to justify certain actions, and how certain passages have several interpretations.

I guess that's why I'm so hesitant to join a church; I'm worried they'll only adhere to thos certain strict iterpretations and won't be open to discussion about other possibilities.

The class sounds like it was a positive experience. I hope people will start becoming more tolerant and open-minded as well.
Jul. 24th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
I need those positive experiences to strengthen me, because it can be very discouraging sometimes.

I haven't seen "For the Bible Tells Me So," but I've heard about it. My pastor is a great resource for how passages can be interpreted differently. It seems to be the case with any good Methodist pastor that he will give you information without telling you what to think.

Someone who is well-versed in Hebrew and Greek and the culture in which the Bible was written can shed light on many things we lay people don't understand.

There are many good churches, but you may have to try a few before finding the right one. Churches differ even within the denominations. The most accepting and affirming one is the United Church of Christ, which never had to change its stance on homosexuality, because it always welcomed them as they are.

I've been in churches that don't share my views on family and lgbt people. I felt like a fish out of water.

And I admit that sometimes I wonder if I belong in church at all when I see what some people do in the name of Christ.

The United Methodist Church's official stance on gays is far from mine and my pastor's. But for now, as long as they are not channeling money towards political initiatives that keep lgbt people from fully participating in society, I will work towards change from within, which is where it has to happen.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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