Wanted: Objective (and gay) third party October 2, 2007Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends, issues, rants.
Tags: affirmative action, atheism, debate, Fred, homosexuality, LGBT, religion
One of the reasons I’m glad I started this blog is that I learn so much from the people who comment here with advice and explanations for various things. So in this blog post, I’m going to actively ask for your opinions, this time regarding the topics of homosexuality, homophobia and affirmative action.
I often discover my greatest passions through embarrassing means. I’m an alt- and grunge-lover, but I only discovered these genres through watching Rock Star: INXS. I discovered Imogen Heap through Garden State. I’m a huge supporter of the LGBT cause, and while I have never hated or disliked gays, my PFLAG-esque passion stemmed from watching Queer as Folk (or as I like to call it, “gay porn”). Now, I don’t think the catalysts affect my sincerity, even though they’re a little tough to admit to.
In any case, I’m still a staunch defender of gay rights, despite the fact that I’m just a straight girl who likes watching pretty boys make out with each other on a soapy Showtime series. And I don’t espouse gay rights as my cause celebre because Brian/Justin was an abnormally hot, so-wrong-it’s-right couple, but because next to atheists, I think the LGBT community faces the most discrimination.
So it irked me considerably (read: I totally PO’d) when Fred* made a gay joke on his blog and then followed it up with this statement (paraphrased):
“I’m not a homophobe. The term ‘homophobe’ is pejorative. I’m not afraid of homosexuals, I just don’t like them. The politically correct word is ‘heteropreferential.'”
Granted, my rebuttal was a wee bit more hostile than it should have been, but I found that statement to be incredibly asinine, and I thus responded accordingly. To me, being a homophobe and calling yourself “heteropreferential” is like being a racist and calling yourself “[insert race here]-preferential.” And I don’t think intolerance should be sanitized. You’re free to disagree with me, readers; I’m probably biased in thinking that homophobes do not deserve a “politically correct” term. (Though if you called me “pro-abortion” rather than “pro-choice,” I wouldn’t stop you.)
Anyway, Fred doesn’t see himself as a homophobe. He “likes Freddie Mercury, even though he was gay.” I asked him if he didn’t like that Mercury was gay, and Fred said yes. I thought that sentiment was homophobic in itself. If I said I liked Jimi Hendrix “even though he was black,” as opposed to just liking Jimi Hendrix, period, would that not make me a racist?
I confronted Fred on his statements, and we got into a lengthy debate about it. Debates with Fred are tiresome because they always wind up circular. We just keep repeating the same things over and over again. It boiled down to this conclusion: Fred thinks he’s not a homophobe because he goes by the literal translation (“homophobia” = “fear of homosexuals”) while I think he is because I go by the dictionary definition (“homophobia” = “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals”).
But Fred also disagrees that he’s a homophobe by dictionary definition because he feels that his dislike for gays isn’t unfounded. So, why does he dislike gay people?
Fred, verbatim: “Homosexuality is a choice.”
If I were as devoid of morals as people say atheists are, I would have punched him in the face right then.
Teen Atheist: “Please. If homosexuality were conditional, we’d probably have less Republican fags. Ahem, Larry Craig, ahem.”
Fred: “Touche. But those people were probably molested some time before, or something like that.”
TA: “Wouldn’t gay people — gay Christians and Republicans, anyway — rather be straight, to fit in? If it were a choice, why are there closeted gays?”
Fred: “Because they have shame, by society. And I don’t shame.”
TA: “Most closeted gays would rather be straight, I’m sure. If homosexuality were conditional, closeted gays would be a rare breed.”
Fred: “If homosexuality were genetic, how would that set of genes be more rampant now more than ever? After 40,000 years of eliminating those unable to reproduce?”
And you know, I didn’t have a good answer for that, but I argued that there are more openly gay people now because it was much harder to be out and proud in 1950. I’m not sure I can argue that homosexuality is hereditary, but I do believe it’s probably congenital, since a lot of gay people had known they were gay at an early age.
TA: “Assuming homosexuality is a choice, why do you dislike gays?”
Fred: “I believe that homosexual people have problems that they can’t deal with properly. One wouldn’t be homosexual naturally, but is turned into one by culture and issues, usually by trauma of some sort. Hence, I don’t like gay people because they are weak to succumb to making irrational choices.”
I would have argued that homosexuality’s contribution to humankind is population control, but Fred would have just chided me for being a heartless utilitarian (he did after I told him I was pro-death penalty, for the same reasons). I’m not saying that I’m not one, but the argument would be beside the point.
TA: “I’m atheist by choice. Am I weak of faith? Do you see me (as an atheist) the way you see gays? Because that reasoning is what my dad uses in explaining his dislike of my atheism.”
Fred: “No, your choice is not irrational. Rational = continues survival of human species. Homosexuality does nothing for humankind.”
TA: “So people who masturbate have a problem, too?”
Fred: “Yeah, they have lack of control, so I don’t like it if people do that.”
Which I think is stupid, but I didn’t bring that up with him. Fred’s the kind of guy who sees sex as a “loving, intimate act between husband and wife,” while I think more along the lines of “biological instinct.” Besides, self-denial is such a Catholic idea. (Fred considers himself an irreligious deist, by the way. And get this — he wants to stay Catholic to “promote tolerance.” Ha!)
Here’s a summary of the points made in our debate-that-went-nowhere:
Fred – Homosexuality is a choice. It’s impossible for the “gay gene” to be passed down because gay men can’t have sex with women. Homosexuality is the fault of the gay people themselves because they couldn’t overcome past traumatic experiences, and thus, gay people are weak.
TA – Homosexuality may or may not be congenital, but you can’t “un-gay” a person. Gay men are capable of having sex with women (there was an article in Out magazine about a closeted gay man who has a healthy sex life with his wife, though I can’t find the link right now). Gay people don’t deserve to be discriminated against, because there is nothing wrong with a dude boning a dude. Who’d they hurt in the process of fucking each other? Humankind? Bitch, please.
Now, the third topic: affirmative action.
Fred: “Are you gay?”
Fred: “Well, stop acting hero. I know gay people who don’t give a fuck.”
TA: “What, like white people shouldn’t help promote tolerance of other ethnicities? I’m anti-discrimination.”
Fred: “No, you’re doing an opposite form of discrimination. Most call it affirmative action.”
I didn’t know what affirmative action meant at the time, so I looked it up.
Affirmative action – The practice of giving better opportunities (jobs, education etc) to people who, it is thought, are treated unfairly (minorities, women etc).
From what I understand, affirmative action is like hiring a guy because he’s black and you feel bad for him. Which is totally not what I’m about, since I treat straight people and gay people equally. However, if you make an anti-gay slur and defend yourself with something as stupid as “I’m not homophobic, I’m heteropreferential,” then I think I have a right to call you out on your bullshit, regardless of whether or not I’m gay. “Stop acting hero” is such an idiotic argument — wouldn’t the black kids in Hairspray have had a tougher time fighting for their cause without characters like Tracy Turnblad and Corny Collins? And if nobody stood up to the racist/sexist/homophobic/fundamentalist/etc. idiots, then when would the discrimination end?
So that’s the story of the circular Fred/TA debate. Readers, I present to you the following questions:
- Is Fred a homophobe?
- Are you agreeable to the invention of a “politically correct” term for homophobia (e.g. “heteropreferential”)?
- Is homosexuality congenital or conditional?
- Would you call what I just did “affirmative action”?
- [Optional] If you’re wondering what’s up with the title of this post, I’m looking for a gay reader to help me debunk Fred’s theory that all gay people are gay because they’ve experienced something traumatic. So if you’re a gay person with a relatively happy and normal upbringing, please let me know you exist!
[ETA: Readers, you don’t have to be homosexual to answer these questions! :D]
I used to think Fred was a smart guy. I’ve come to realize that this is not the case — he’s not smart, he’s just articulate and verbose. (No offense, Fred, since you’re probably reading this, but I
think you’re an idiot really, really disagree with you. On a lot of things. You lost a good chunk of the respect I had for you at “Homosexuality is a choice.”)
But you and I, Freddy Boy, we’ve reached a compromise!
(Shamelessly stolen from Arcis Logos.)