You guys may have read this story a few weeks ago (and yes, I used the same picture as the previous article did, because it’s perfect).
A twenty-year-old young man (and Reddit user) came out to his conservative grandmother, and their relationship was stronger than any anti-gay leanings or beliefs that she might have previously held. For months, she was uncomfortable at her church because of the pastor’s strong anti-LGBT leanings.
A high school boy is gay and his family attends the same church as the grandmother in question, and his parents wrote a letter to the pastor asking him what to do. The pastor read the letter to the congregation (and outing someone is a dick move on its own, but especially in that context), and said that they would all work together to address the “problem.”
The grandmother of the Reddit poster (who is not related to the gay high schooler) stood up and said: “There are a lot of problems here, and him being gay is not one of them.” She apologized to the boy and walked out. She was later told that her taking a brave stand like that might help to give other unhappy members of the congregation the courage to voice their disapproval of the pastor’s anti-LGBT stances (or even possibly to leave for a different church, if I understand how church congregations operate).
That is such a sweet story. And that grandmother is brave. I mean, really. How many people hear people say awful things and don’t speak up? How much harder must it be to speak up in opposition to a person in a position of religious authority?
More and more people, families, and religious congregations are realizing that anti-gay legislation, prejudice, and stances are on the wrong (and losing) side of history. Better yet, many are realizing that that position is morally wrong.
I’ll admit that I may have some mixed feelings about Christian organizations shifting to be openly inclusive of the LGBT community. It’s not surprising, exactly—any culture or religion that lasts adapts to survive, and Christianity has certainly done so over the years.
Contrary to the beliefs of certain insane people on the fringes of the Religious Right, my being gay and my being Pagan does not mean that I go to bed each night fondly dreaming of the downfall of Christianity. I do like pluralism and I would like to see people look for religions other than the religion of their parents. And there is something to be said for religions that were already fine with gays to start with as opposed to religious bodies that are just recently coming around to gays (and sometimes out of self-preservation).
That said, I want to live in a world in which anyone who is LGBT (or straight, obviously) has no conflict between his or her family, religious path, and sexual orientation. There is enough suffering in the world without religion, which should be a source of strength and peace, becoming an instrument of shame, doubt, and self-loathing.
PS: I said “anti-gay” rather than “homophobic” because “anti-gay” seems more accurate. A lot of us are accustomed to using the terms interchangeably, but they do mean different things. “I don’t want a gay roommate or gay guys using the same gym or bathroom,” sounds pretty homophobic. People who freak out when they realize that they’re at a party with a bunch of gay guys are homophobic. Anti-gay is a personal, religious, or political stance against gay people, gay sex, or gay rights (or, more generally, LGBT people, the sex that they may or may not have, and the rights which they possess which may or may not be protected under the law). Anti-gay sentiment and homophobia may frequently accompany the same people, but not always, and the terms have distinct meanings. Someone could have anti-gay beliefs and have no instinctive fear or unease around gay people, while someone could support gay rights in theory while being very uncomfortable around the LGBT community.