I grew up in a dysfunctional, conservative family. I went to a Lutheran elementary school, public middle school, and a Christian high school. The majority of people I have ever known in my life are staunch republicans who dislike people that don’t hold the same “white, right-wing” worldview as they do. I think I spent way too many years pretending to hold these views just so I would fit in. Of course, this included the “love the sinner, hate the sin” view of those who identify as LGBT.
I play the violin. I have played violin since the age of 7. This is when my “sympathetic views” of homosexuality started. I grew up in the world of music. Music is the very first gift God gave me. Well, growing up in the world of classical music, about half of my male friends walked the path of discovery of their homosexuality. These were my friends. They were good friends. But the conservative, religious folks in my life kept trying to tell me that they were perverted, sinful, deceived, etc… I had such a difficult time believing these things about my friends.
Then I went to college. I loved my time at Cedarville University. I was quite rebellious because I didn’t blindly believe and conform to their expectations. But still, I made wonderful friends and received a terrific education. I met my wonderful husband and got married before my senior year. Life was wonderful.
I remember when it came time for the Bush/Kerry presidential elections. I was strongly leaning towards supporting Kerry for president. I received a phone call from a family member telling me that if I voted for Kerry, he would allow gay men to be scout leaders and that my future sons would be molested if they had a gay scout leader. I was and still am horrified that this is being taught in our conservative, evangelical circles.
Well, life continued and I ended up giving birth to my first child – a son, that we named Elliot. I have my degree in early childhood education, and as Elliot grew, I noticed things that were different about him from other children I have worked with. By 18 months of age, I was convinced he had autism. We put him in every early intervention therapy we could afford – and I am happy to say that today he is doing remarkably well today. He is now just the quirky kid with a speech disorder!
Anyhow, my real change of thought regarding homosexuality occurred when Elliot was 2. He started receiving weekly occupational therapy sessions. His therapist was openly gay. He was such a wonderful man. And I have to say this - Elliot screamed and cried around any adult that was not his father or me – this was one of my clearest indicators of Elliot’s autism. He didn’t even like grandparents. But for some reason, Elliot loved this man. The whole hour of therapy was filled with laughter between him and his therapist. Not just his therapist – his gay therapist! A friend asked me how in the world I could let my son be alone with this man for a whole hour, given the fact that he was gay! I was angry that instead of celebrating the victory of my son with autism sharing a fun, social experience with a person other than me or his father turned into accusations of homosexuality and child abuse. I combated my anger by using logic. This man was educated – he had his master’s degree in occupational therapy. This man clearly had passed his fingerprint and FBI background checks to be allowed to work in private therapy with children. He was subjected to the same scrutiny I was when receiving my teaching license. This man was not going to molest or hurt my son. He helped my son!
I am now a full supporter of gay rights. It has been 3 years since Elliot has been in occupational therapy. But I will never forget that man. He gave me hope for my son’s future and fulfilled my true thoughts about gay people.
I don’t expect people in religious, right-wing circles to start supporting homosexuality or not viewing it as a sin. What I want is for these people to start reacting to this issue with love, grace, and compassion. The people who claim Christ should follow His example. I know for me, if I were naturally attracted to women, there is nothing that would stop me from pursuing a loving, committed, sexual relationship. Right or wrong – it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to judge because I would do the same thing. (I would wager that most conservatives would too.)
My argument to those who believe such lies about homosexuality is this: Where would American literature be without Walt Whitman? Where would classical music be without Tchaikovsky? Perhaps these men were great because they were gay—not in spite of it. Just think about it.