Sunday, April 19, 2009

Choosing a Lifestyle

This evening a co-worker was having a discussion with me about his 12 year old cousin. He was telling me that he was correcting his cousin from referring to their gay Uncle Dennis as "that fairy." My co-worker (who is straight, I am gay) told me with self-evident pride that he told cousin "You shouldn't refer to Uncle Denny that way. He chose a gay lifestyle and he should be respected for the person he is." Uh.......chose? I quietly corrected my co-worker and said "Your uncle didn't chose the gay lifestyle." My co-worker's face crinkled up in puzzlement. He said "He didn't?." I said "No. He no more chose to be gay than you chose to be straight. Do you remember when you chose to be straight?"

I felt bad for my friend because he obviously felt he was doing the right thing by correcting his cousin from referring to their uncle as a "fairy." He asked me "Then, when did he become gay?" I told him "The same time you probably became straight." Now he's really confused. I further explained to him "Your uncle didn't chose to be gay. He just is. I didn't chose to be gay no more than I chose to have blue eyes (which I do) when I was born." I could see that he was struggling to understand. I told him that this is the problem, parents and adults pass down to kids these misconceptions about gays and lesbians. Through their actions and attitudes they pass down to kids that it is alright to discount a gay or lesbian as a human being because that is a "lifestyle that they chose." Sure, I decided when I was four years old (when I knew I was "different") to opt for a life of ridicule, hate and danger. Oh yeah, that's the kind of "lifestyle" I want to live.

This kind of misinformation that is fed to our youth is what contributed to the bullying that a caused 11 year old Carl Joseph Walker to hang himself rather than to constantly hear many of his classmates say "That's so gay" when referring to young Carl's naturally happy demeanor. His mother repeatedly told school officials that her son was being bullied but her pleas were ignored. This tactic permission by adults is what permits the term "faggot" to be used by young children and teenagers as the universal derivative term to put down anybody, gay or straight. A more appropriate piece of information to teach kids would be the definition of the term "faggot" - during the Middle Ages, homosexuals were executed by placing a bundle of sticks placed at the feet of the accused homosexuals to burn them alive at the stake.

Earlier this week I had another one of my frequent discussions with my longtime and former school classmate friend about the Christian church's condemnation of gays. I have to explain this to him because he doesn't understand why I won't admit my "sin" and be "saved." He says "Why do you always have to bring up the homosexual aspect?" I told him "Because the organized church condems me for who I am and calls me a sinner." He advises me to "stop being the martyr and confess my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my savior." Of course he is referring to ALL of my sins. The organized Christian church is very preoccupied with sin. But that's another whole new subject that I won't go into at this time. What I will say though is my response to the oft repeated "hate the sin, love the sinner" line that many of the far right Christian based church use in justifying their bigotry towards gays and lesbians - I hate the (organized) church but love the church goer. In fact, some of my best friends are Christians.

The fact remains that as far as this country (and world) has advanced in the knowledge that gays and lesbians are human beings just like their straight counterparts, there is still a lot of ingrained misinformation out there unwittingly being spread around with all the best intentions.

The look on my co-worker's face when I informed him that his uncle didn't chose the gay "lifestyle", it was priceless. It was sort of like the look on my cousin Elaine's face when I first informed her that I was gay. Momentarily she was puzzled and then she quickly recovered by saying "Oh, I love 'Will and Grace!" Uh......thanks but no thanks. And I bet some of your best friends are black too. By the way, I want to know that the "gay lifestyle" is. It sounds pretty glamorous to me but I must have been home sick from school that day when they gave that lesson at Gay High School. I have the same problem with the famous "Homosexual Agenda." I never got my copy. Of course there is no "homosexual lifestyle" anymore than there is a "homosexual agenda." Again, just more nuggets of misinformation that is spread out there in Straightville, USA every day.

Ironically, if I did have a choice, I wouldn't change a thing. I've been very happy with my life. You might even say I've had a very gay life.


Anonymous said...

This was a much needed post Ron. It annoys me when people run others down when they have no control of how they were born.

I have two male cousins who are gay. One is 42 and the other 56. They were never fully accepted as part of the family by other members. It's a don't ask don't tell situation. On my husband's side of the family, his neice (also our god daughter) is gay. She is 33 & due to her immediate family's religious beliefs on the subject she has two lives. I feel this is so sad for her. It just breaks my heart that she can't be totally herself around her own family.

We also have a another neice that married a black man and they have a beautiful baby girl. The realization of her parents of her choice caused so much pain for her it was heartbreaking. They are more tolerant now that the baby is here but it will never be a normal relationship for all of them. Another situation I just don't understand.

About facebook...I looked into it but there was one thing I didn't understand. They asked for my yahoo email address & password. Am I correct about this? I may look into it again.


Ron Tipton said...


In reference to Facebook wanting your Yahoo e-mail address and password, that is wrong. They don't need your e-mail address or password. Something is wrong there. You don't have to supply any e-mail address and certainly don't have to supply your Yahoo password. I hope you weren't on one of those fake web sites. You should never have to give out passwords. The only thing your would have to do with FB or anyother new website is supply them with a new personal password for only you can access your account.

Ron Tipton said...

My co-worker meant well when he made his comment. In a way I felt bad for him because he truly was puzzled by my statement "your uncle didn't chose to be gay." My co-worker explained to me that he has engaged in gay acts but considers himself straight. I told him that's different. I told him that I have several friends who are gay but who married and had children. But that doesn't make them straight. I think he is still trying to process this information. The point I wanted to make with my posting is that there is still so much misinformation being transmitted to children that perpetuates the myth that gays CHOSE to be that way. That isn't the case at all. If the people that say this would just think about it, why would anyone chose a life of discrimination, hate, family alienation, and possible harm and even death? I've experienced all. And yet, if I had a "choice" to go straight now, I wouldn't. No more than a straight person would want to "go gay." I am what I am.

Nitewrit said...

I don't know where Fran was, but I've never had any place ask for my email address and password. Facebook asks for your email address, as do many sites, but the password it requires is one just for Facebook. In fact, when I signed up for Facebook, it specifically asked me to use a password not used elsewhere.



Another great post; well-written - informative, and with great strength!


Now that's a strange one re Face Book; I used the same password I use for all my blogs and web-sites I join.

There was no prompt not too - it just told me my password was 'weak', but frankly, I don't care - FB isn't that important to me. If someone kills my FB blog, so be it.........

Ron Tipton said...

I don't think the password question is a FB thing, it's Larry. He is very paranoid about passwords. Sometimes he gets confused and then he's quick to blame.