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Azryah Harvey
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Homosexuality: We still have to talk about it

“The enemy is not individuals, churches, ‘ex-gay’ organisations or political parties; the enemy is ignorance. Change is created by focusing our energies on overcoming the latter instead of attacking the former.”— Anthony Venn-Brown, A Life of Unlearning – a journey to find the truth. 

Recently I had a discussion about homosexuality. It became a myriad of confusion, questions, offensive statements, unfounded theories, a lot of raised voices and finger-pointing. I was heated and not simply because of the conversation being had at that very moment, but because all of the thoughts and feelings the conversation dredged up. I was finding it really difficult to get my thoughts in order and don’t feel like I expressed my views very well.

I sat thinking about it until the early hours of the next morning, up late writing all my notes and points to include in this post and as I sit here typing I’m not entirely sure why I feel so compelled to speak about this, but hopefully by the time I’ve finished I will have identified where all these emotions are manifesting from.

Disclaimer: I am referencing Christianity solely because, of all the different religions, it is the one I am most familiar with. I would like to stress that I understand people adhere strictly to the ways of their holy book and their faith is very, if not the most, important thing to them and rightfully so. Please understand that this is not necessarily to sway you, and it is definitely not to deny you your right to believe in and feel whatever you want, but I have been very honest and this is me analysing my thoughts, so that I can actively work on obtaining a better understanding while encouraging others to do the same. 

“It’s like hair colour. It’s nothing. Some people are blonde and some people have dark hair. It’s not a subject.”— Unknown

I really have serious difficulty understanding how homosexuality is immoral when it is not to the detriment of anything. The only people who have to deal with the perils of homosexuality are homosexuals themselves and that is at the hands of people with whom their sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with. If everyone woke up tomorrow and realised that homosexuality was perfectly acceptable how would the world be any worse off? This is where people will probably play the ‘unnatural’ card and assert that the human race would cease to exist. Considering the general consensus that only 10% of the world’s population is gay I don’t see how you can claim extinction is a rational fear.

I understand and respect the fact that people whose life is rooted heavily in their faith will irrefutable dispute that homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, is wrong because God said so and that is the end of it. I would never tell any individual they, specifically, are wrong for believing what is written in their holy scripture, I do however think this particular writing in and of itself is very flawed. I am not religious and have never invested any real-time into studying the Bible or Quran etc, but I would like to draw a comparison between homosexuality and other abominations that are listed.

  • Cheating (Mic. 6:10)
  • A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22)
  • Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17)
  • A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18)
  • Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15)
  • Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9)
  • Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Incest (Lev. 19: 6-30)
  • Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13)
  • Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13)

 

And this list goes on.. If we look at these abominations with regards to humanity they are all related to the preservation of man, our happiness, liberty and fundamental entitlements. If these acts are committed they will automatically and inevitably be to the detriment of someone, whether it be yourself or another person. They will inflict harm one way or the other; I fail to see how homosexuality is categorised the same. “Because God said so’ is actually a completely acceptable justification as to why Christians, Muslims and Jews alike believe homosexuality is unethical (although it in no way should affect the level of respect of tolerance they are willing to extend to gay people) but it does not at all explain how homosexuality is definitively unethical. Moral law dictates that in the vast majority of places you go human beings will share a similar moral code, but having said that morality is still subjective, so unless someone finds me some compelling evidence, other than the words written in a book that I hold no belief in, I will never ever be convinced that there is anything inherently wrong with homosexuality.

“Some Christians see the biblical teaching on homosexuality as reflecting the culture and times in which the Bible was written and not reflecting God’s eternal perspective on homosexual people. Others believe these scriptures represent God’s timeless will for how human beings practice intimacy.”— Adam Hamilton

People argue that God wrote the bible in a way which means it’s relevance is undeniable regardless of time and the only thing that changes is our interpretations, but I would like to draw attention to one abomination of which I have never, personally, experienced any Christian feeling terribly obliged to comply with and that is:

  • Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17)

I think I can say with much confidence that very few people will take this as seriously and the bible mentions that it is an abomination… abominations are very bad, so why the change of heart? I tried to look for scripture that might explain, what looks like, disparities and Jeremiah 18:8 states:

“But if that nation about which I spoke turns from its evil way, I’ll change my mind about the disaster that I had planned for it.”

From what I can tell, the majority of people who prescribe to any faith do not believe the world is any better now, than it was all those years ago, so is this a valid defence in this particular argument? This also leads me to the question, how many people accept the possibility that the damnation of homosexuality is terribly outdated? Can anyone, who bases their opinion on the word, admit that maybe just this one single abomination is one to be reconsidered? And if all sin is equal, if no one should be casting stones, why throughout modern history have people considered it just that homosexuals be so terribly oppressed? No one has gone to jail for eating pork or prawns so why were homosexuals incarcerated and lobotomised? Is it really only the word of the Lord that influences your stance, or can you admit that the precedent provided by the cruel world we live in contributes to some of your behaviours and attitudes towards gay people? I really do not expect any answers to these questions, but they are something to think about.

“If you have an issue with homosexuality, then it comes down to your own fear and your own darkness.”— Tori Amos

Anyway, moving on, because I by no means want this to be religious argument, (although it is a very intrinsic part of the debate,) lets touch on how homosexuality is reflected in the media and on the internet and how that all aligns with our current social climate. At this time, although not perfect, gay people are more accepted and liberated than they have ever been and they are taking this opportunity to really push boundaries. The latest effort includes putting gay couples in children’s cartoons. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it but I do empathise with the sentiments on both sides of the argument, I’ll start with those in favour. I do not consider homosexuality to be abnormal, weird or unnatural and so I can totally understand why homosexuals want their very real existence to be portrayed on television; art imitates life, gay people are a part of life, drama is art… do you see where I’m going with this? Ideally they want to rid the world of the elusiveness of ‘gayness’.

They don’t want the fact that they are attracted to their own sex being a moral dilemma or a conversation starter. They are tired of explaining that they like people of the same gender and I’m sure they are very over acting like people’s reactions, at the revelation they happen to be gay, is not completely redundant. “Oh my gosh, did you know that [insert male name here] likes women” said no one ever. They are tired of hiding and having to ‘come out’ and the hope of this change does not lie with the grown adults who are set in their ways, conditioned in their thinking and have their attitudes already ingrained into their psyche. It is with the next generation. It is with the children that watch these cartoons. That have no prejudices and that are open to everything. But conversely, due to the society that these attitudes are born from I think it is unfair to demonise those that do not want their kids to be ‘exposed’ (for lack of a better word) to gay relationships. If someone’s fundamental beliefs, if what they have been taught explicitly is right from wrong does not match that of homosexual ideals, it’s unfair to vilify them and label everyone who does not share your perspective as homophobic.

homophobic

ˌhɒməˈfəʊbɪk,ˌhəʊməˈfəʊbɪk/

adjective

  1. Having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.

Someone who does not actively support homosexual relationships does not necessarily dislike homosexuals. Some people do not actually have an opinion on sexuality beyond themselves and the people within their most intimate sphere of relationships and I will try to explain this the best I can using Dunbar’s theory. Dunbar’s theory is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Within that sphere are those that our brains can conceptualise as people, whose feelings, thoughts and attitudes we are invested in, everyone else is simply an idea, so when people think of homosexuality outside of their sphere they literally feel like those people are irrelevant. They genuinely could not care less. They wish you no harm and they do not want to dictate to you how you should live your life, but that does not change their opinion on the ‘idea’ of homosexuality in the context of their reality.

What would hurt you more, finding out that your mum died, or that 50 people died in an avalanche in the arctic? Your best friend losing her job because she denied sexual advances from her boss, or thousands of women being denied education across the globe in some obscure country? They are all humans and they are all equally dead and deprived of opportunity but the closer to our sphere, the more significant it is to us. Do not misunderstand my point, I am not saying we should not continue doing everything we can to dispel the negative attitudes towards homosexuality, so that everyone in every sphere can live their truth, but I am saying, unless someone is intentionally trying to offend, degrade or diminish gay people’s existence don’t take it personally. If they are not open, if they are not willing, if they are not receptive, do not impose anything on them, simply take your efforts else where and leave them alone to live their lives just as you would like to be left alone to live yours.

And you probably thought I was finished, but I’ve got one more point to make… stop comparing homosexuality to acts that are clearly and explicitly wrong and sordid! With rhetoric like “when we see men marrying and impregnating young girls in other parts of the world you judge them based on your beliefs and perspective, but I can’t judge gay people.” I often wonder if people are being intentionally obtuse. A gay relationship consists of two emotionally competent, consenting adults who have made a conscious decision based on positive, mutual feelings of love and respect to commit to one another because it makes them happy. I’m going to wait for you to compare that to a 12-year-old girl, being raped, forced into marriage and made to bore children after being refused the right to an education or work, meanwhile her husband, who is thirty years her senior, probably sleeps with a plethora of other women. That argument sounds all dandy buddy, until you remember that these marriages are a prelude to all sorts of oppression. Gay people are happy and inflicting harm on no one and although some of you will certainly try, that is a fact no one can dispute.

“In the unification of two minds, orientation of sexuality is irrelevant.”— Abhijit Naskar