In a recent letter to the Editor in The News, a reader makes the following statement: “I don’t know what it’s like to be subjected to hateful rhetoric because I am not gay.”
This admission reveals the author of this statement does not understand how hurtful society can be towards LGBTQ+ citizens, in this country and around the world. The immediate reaction by so many in our society is to divide rather than learn to understand the very existence of those whose sexual orientation and true gender identity or expression is a foreign subject.
The obvious answer that comes to mind at once is that right-wing Christian followers, among many others, believe a choice must be made and they must change into a ‘heterosexual’ person, or decide to live in a body that is not in tune with one’s thoughts and behaviour, not thought to be on par with others. The reason? Christianity teaches this concept and especially those within evangelical circles take this to heart and are consequently filled with hate and disdain.
First, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, our sexual orientation is not a choice, just as being straight is not chosen, but is accepted without confusion. Why would one choose to be subjected to a life if horror inflicted by those who reject the normalcy of being gay. Consequently, violence follows and continues today, and well into the future. Second, if Christianity teaches people to love, embrace and reject hate, then why does the LGBTQ+ community not experience positive action? Does love not conquer hate? We do not declare war on Christianity; instead we seek friendship and the embrace.
Yes, the Trumps, the Kenneys, the Carpays and right-wing Christians and so many more pointedly condemn the LGBTQ+ population of this world. Should we just close our eyes, our ears, go into hiding, pretending all is well and that bullying and violence do not exist? Must we give in to rejection, horrific ideals, and the beliefs by those who feel their superiority is what must be accepted? No, not in this world.
The author of the aforementioned letter reads my columns and, insists he becomes angry at me. Is the anger directed at me personally, or is it aimed at the LGBTQ+ community? Is he angry that gay people have always existed and that someone did not simply decide to create such a person?
The recent anti-gay conversion therapy bill passed in the Nova Scotia Legislature addresses the fact this practice is indeed hurtful, discriminatory and leads to mental illness, and, in many cases, suicides. It simply does not work in any case, as it would not work to change a heterosexual person to make him or her gay.
One cannot change what nature gave us. Teen-age suicides are among the highest in Canada and around the globe because of family, friends, teachers and some Christian influences. This must change as lives should not be lost on account of one’s sexual orientation or true gender identity. Right-wing Christian beliefs apparently support the discrimination that leads to the horrible consequences we learn about on a daily basis. Why is the hatred so strong and why do many Christian denominations, and other religions support such actions?
If disdain is the answer, then it seems normal for churches to lose members. LGBTQ+ citizens and others, are leaving in droves and the church remains adamant to continue on the path of hate and rejection. No one is ready to be bullied, or threatened, for living their lives as they are meant to be lived. If they wish a life without discrimination, the LGBTQ+ citizens around the globe must stand and be proud of who they are, as we cannot change our lives, just like the author of the letter.
The gap must heal and all will live in harmony and peace.
Happy Holidays to all.
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org