Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What will it take to end hatred based on sexual orientation?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25607 points ) February 3rd, 2012

Last year, Rolling Stone published One Town’s War on Gay Teens. It’s a thorough and lengthy article delving into the depths that one town pushed itself into by denying homosexuals any voice. Nine children there died at their own hands in a short period of time after enduring hatred and bullying based on their stated or perceived homosexuality.

I endured harassment, bullying, and emotional and physical abuse as a child and adolescent growing up in a similar climate. My home, my schools, and my church taught me that being gay made me unlovable by anyone, unsalvagable when broken, and irredeemable in God’s eyes.

Since I grew up in the middle of the hatred, I can’t imagine a world without it. My familial, educational, and religious upbringing all conspired to indoctrinate my soul with it.

How do we get rid of that hatred?

I grew up in a segregated Southern town, and school busing started when I was in the second grade. I am a product of desegregation and forced school busing. I know that it worked on assuaging racial hatred in my generation to a great degree. Racism is not dead, but the country changed enough to elect an African-American president.

Desegregation worked at relieving much oppression against African-Americans.

How do we attempt the same help for the LGBTQ community?

How do we stop the hate?

How do we stop the suicides?

How do we instill hope where fear reigns?

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23 Answers

DominicX's avatar

Yes, I am blaming religion. No, I don’t have a solution. These are just my thoughts, which are somewhat extreme; read them at your own risk.

The notion that homosexuality is sinful and wrong is undeniably tied with the notion that it should be hated, bullied, and killed. I’m sorry, but that is the cold hard truth. It doesn’t matter how much people try and say that they “love the sinner”, that might be the ideal, but that is not how many people interpret it. Many people interpret any kind of negative view of homosexuality as excuse to hate, bully, and kill. And this is where the problem lies. People have a holy text that seems to support their hatred. Is there any part of the Bible that indicates being black is wrong? That’s it’s perverted and sinful? That it’s a choice? That those who are black should be put to death?

No, it doesn’t.

But there is plenty of negative material against homosexuality in the Bible. Racists can’t justify their racism using religion the way homophobes can justify their homophobia. Again, I am not saying this is the way to understand the Bible. There are many gay Christians and pro-gay Christians. I am just saying that this is one interpretation and a common one at that. These examples from Minnesota illustrate that this is what people are doing; whether they are wrong or right isn’t the question. But if these people believe that their homophobia is sanctioned by a higher power, what’s going to stop them?

These so-called “Family” organizations (“family” is code for anti-gay; Focus on the Anti-Gay, American Anti-Gay Association. You see the word “family”—it means anti-gay. So they can cut the bullshit with their stupid appeal-to-emotion name); these organizations are adding to the hatred. Maybe they don’t stress outright that bullying or hatred is okay, but their constant messages of negativity, perversion, disgust, surrounding homosexuality add to it. If you are taught time and time again how wrong/disgusting/perverted homosexuality is, how can it be easy to not also feel that way about the person? “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is the biggest crock of horse shit I’ve heard in a long time. If you hate the sin that much, it’s almost impossible not to the hate the sinner along with it. A lot of these religious anti-gay people seem to be doing just that.

Think of how hysterical you’d get if you knew there was a pedophile in your school. You’d probably want to castrate the son-of-a-bitch, right? That’s how people seem to be feeling about homosexuality; for them, there’s no difference. It’s radically disgusting and needs to be eliminated.

Now, I can’t say I fully understand this myself. I know “kids are cruel” and I know that they believe in some way that it’s their moral imperative to make homosexual kids’ lives a living hell (I have met “Christians” who thought that anti-gay bullying was positive because it showed the negative consequences for choosing homosexuality), but the hatred is so strong that I don’t even think I could hate a serial killer as much as these kids hate homosexuals. The kids seem to take it to an extreme. Maybe the adults just think homosexuality is disgusting and shouldn’t be tolerated or discussed, but they wouldn’t go so far as to say bullying is okay. But the kids seem to think they have a license to bully, as if homosexuals are subhuman and deserve to be treated that way. Again, I don’t have a solution to the hatred—I’m just trying to understand why it occurs.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake, I don’t have an answer either. I wish I did. Your post made me feel very sad. We think we are so progressive and yet we haven’t reached the point where we can just accept we are all different and that is just fine.

I think @DominicX is quite right in placing at least some (and a large part really) of the blame at the door of various religions. Prior to reading @DominicX‘s post, I was questioning what the difference is and I think he is spot on, there is no religious justification for racism, but there is for being against homosexuality.

Perhaps one thing we can do is make sure our young people are supported and know that at home at least, they are accepted and loved. We need to make sure young people, whether they are our biological children or not, have support, both within and outside our families. I know as soon as my children were old enough, I have quietly without making a big deal of it, basically in passing, told them I will love them whatever their sexual orientation. I don’t know if they are straight or gay, I really don’t care. They are my children and I want them to always know I love them. Their sexual orientation is just part of who they are.

I think seeing more role models on television and in films can help. As does more well known people coming out and being open about their sexuality. That has to help young people to feel perhaps a little less ‘different’. If their favourite musician can say ‘I’m gay’, at least they know they’re not alone. TV shows with gay characters too. Not sure about things like Modern Family. I don’t think the stereotypical, presentation in that comedy of ‘gay’ is helpful. I would like to hear your views though. I would think programmes with characters who have strong roles that are not about them ‘being gay’ but who just happen to be gay, seems more helpful.

I will be reading the responses here with interest. One thing I do know, is changing has to start with little steps taken by each one of us.

gorillapaws's avatar

Time and education. I used to be a real asshole when it came to homosexuality. I wouldn’t use the word hate to describe my former behavior, but I was certainly behaving like a real shithead. Then I got to know a few gay guys who were pretty cool. Homosexuals have the advantage of the facts being on their side, so time is on their side. You can’t fight the truth forever.

I still have a hard time accepting really effeminate males that seem to be playing the role of what is expected of a stereotypical homosexual. They get under my skin the same way that hearing a “valley girl” accent, or the “jersey shore” guido thing does.

Soupy's avatar

I think that hatred toward gays will continue so long as people follow the instructions of magic books which condemn gays. As @DominicX mentioned, there’s an undeniable link between the doctrine that being gay is wrong, and the harassment of gay people. I don’t believe homophobia will ever be done away with sadly, because I believe people will never part with their bigot-books.

downtide's avatar

I don’t think it will end while religion exists. Or at least while religion continues to preach hatred and bigotry.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@downtide: I don’t think that religion preaches hatred and bigotry. Granted, there are some people (i.e. Westboro) that take things way out of line, but I don’t think that religions are the ones that teach hatred.

I’m a religious person, and I’m fine with people with different sexual orientations. I truly believe that it has to do with the person, education and their level of open-mindedness in these sorts of things. True, religion may have some part of it, but I don’t think that it’s everything.

@Bellatrix, I really liked your response. It’s kind of what I was trying to say, but you said it way better.

tedd's avatar

Time.

or the discovery of aliens to show us how measly our petty differences are

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I don’t think it’s religion completely, it’s more the extremists that try to force their views on everyone else. I just think the whole world could use more tolerance and compassion.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think religion is the problem; people just use this as a justification for their bias and hatred. When someone is vehemently homophobic I always suspect they are suppressing these inclinations within themselves. Only when we are comfortable with who we are will we cease to fear those who are different and begin to learn respect for others.

Jude's avatar

“When someone is vehemently homophobic I always suspect they are suppressing these inclinations within themselves. Only when we are comfortable with who we are will we cease to fear those who are different and begin to learn respect for others.”

I agree.

Blackberry's avatar

Sorry, but as long as ignorant people like those who support Palin and Santorum procreate, there will always be hate. We can only hope the children who are raised by people like that can somehow free their mind from such parenting.

Jude's avatar

I still think that @flutherother nailed it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yeah, nailed it. Look how many homophobes end up practicing what they preached against.

YoBob's avatar

IMHO, most of the hatred surrounding the sexual orientation issue has much less to do with sexual orientation than it does with a disdain for the whole “I’m gay @#$!#! and you will bloody well accept it as main stream behavior whether you want to or not dammit!!!!!!!’ attitude amongst the more vocal activist crowd that draws reactionary sentiment.

While there will be @$$holes for as long as there will be people, I believe that the vast majority of people could not give a rats patutti what you do in your own bedroom and with whom. IMHO, what is needed is for people to simply go about their business instead of making their orientation an issue.

Jude's avatar

Watch this.

thorninmud's avatar

Part of the problem is our ancient enchantment with the uber-male stereotype. This has deep roots in our psyche; no doubt “Conan the Barbarian” types were the gold standard of manhood through most of our history for a very good reason. Male homosexuality is thought to be antithetical to that stereotype, and so it flies in the face of our idea of how a man should be. Moreover, according to the stereotype, one affirms one’s own manhood by vigorously rejecting homosexuality.

Things are slowly shifting as the dynamics of human civilization shift. We now see that “Conan the Barbarian” types threaten at least as much as assure our survival. What we value in men is changing. But it will take a long time to reverse such an entrenched idea.

Female homosexuality doesn’t seem to inspire nearly the same level of outrage. Maybe we’re so accustomed to sexualizing women that we’re not surprised to see one woman attracted to another. It kind of plays into the part of the male stereotype that insists that women are sexually attractive, but men most certainly aren’t, so it gets a tentative pass.

I’ve just talked about some (not all) of the roots of the problem, but not about the solution. I’m not sure what that would be. Yes, things are slowly changing, but meanwhile people are suffering and dying. As a society, we need to vigorously work to counteract the message that one’s status as a male is enhanced by opposing homosexuality. Not easy to do.

gorillapaws's avatar

@thorninmud “Maybe we’re so accustomed to sexualizing women that we’re not surprised to see one woman attracted to another.”

That and most women sucked on a nipple for the first several months of their lives. I mean your entire existence as an infant consists of sleeping, going to the bathroom, and boobs in your face.

Sunny2's avatar

I think the hope for a change is in the high school gay groups to which many non gays belong as well.
The sad fact is the tendency of humans to pick on anybody they perceive as “different.” It’s a not uncommon trait of the animal world and one that will be something to fight against as long as we live. We can each do something about it individually by not acting on any prejudice we have and speaking up any time we meet it face to face.

6rant6's avatar

@gorillapaws Those were the days…

Jeruba's avatar

I think if we can just get rid of hatred based on differing beliefs (about anything), differing cultures and customs, different appearances, and different speech, that will take care of it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Patience.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This article from yesterday (Feb. 14, 2012) in the magazine Rolling Stone announces some good news. The town in the other article I linked in the OP has reversed it’s policy that brought on the anti-gay bullying.

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