Huffpost Gay Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

James Peron Headshot

If That's Love, How Bad Is Their Hate?

Posted: Updated:

Maintaining bigotry is easier if the object of your hatred is alien to you -- someone quite unlike you.

Merchants of hate typically market images based on the "other." Blacks are portrayed as subhuman criminals; Jews are malicious, conspiring, and greedy; gays threaten children, marriage, or even Western civilization itself; while "illegals" are simultaneously ingenious multitaskers, criminals, lazy, welfare-cheats, and stealing our jobs.

The object of one's hate is often depicted as less than fully human, or as a threat to the most cherished values of society. These depictions are meant to justify inhumanity toward them. The National Organization for [sic] Marriage depicts gays as dangerous to the family. Pope Benedict opined that gay marriages "undermine the family," and are a "threat to human dignity and the future of humanity itself." Fundamentalist Scott Lively produced a scholarly-appearing book (appearances are deceptive) that claimed that the Nazi movement was homosexual and thus gays were responsible for the Holocaust. Hollywood has-been Kirk Cameron, now full-time fundamentalist, said gays are "unnatural, detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." Paul Cameron, related only by religion, claimed, "The homosexual historical footprint is large when it comes to the rape and murder of children."

Though bigoted campaigns are strategically similar, the anti-gay crusade has one major difference. In spite of depicting gays and lesbians as the "other," LGBT people always turn out to be "one of us." The Klan leader does not one morning discover that his son is really black. A daughter doesn't come home one afternoon to reveal that she is an "illegal immigrant," intent on taking her mother's job. But LGBT children come from "normal" homes, and most had heterosexual parents.

Fundamentalists go to great lengths to create insulated communities; they build their own "Christian schools" or home-school their children, partially to prevent them from having contact with gays or "gay propaganda." Some inundate the child with "Christian activities," forbid Hollywood movies, and even ban television, while Interact access is strictly monitored. Still, Christian parents face the same odds as other parents when it comes to a child being gay.

Try to fake the facts, as fundamentalists might, but LGBT people are not the "other"; they are not aliens come to attack their family. They are their family.

Some Christian families manage to exist without discovering that a son, daughter, brother, aunt, cousin, etc. is gay. But time after time, anti-gay families do discover that their own loved ones are gay. For every family that knows of a gay relative, others are ignorant of the truth -- but the truth persists whether they are aware of it or not.

Their biggest error is the assumption that a person's sexual orientation is something inflicted upon them from outside, and not intrinsic to their nature. Building walls won't keep the "gay" out. It is immune to legislation and commandments, impervious to political rhetoric and sermons.

Bigots can inflict pain and suffering on their children, but they can't make them into something they are not. They may push them into a marriage that can never be what it should be, thus spreading the pain they inflict to others -- such as the wife or any children. But, reality is what it is.

Fundamentalists have long evaded reality. Their faith relies upon it. Ayn Rand warned, "We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."

Recently, a fundamentalist mother reacted to her son's school project, which included him reading an essay about gays and Christians. She was livid:

I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge "sin."



I gave my son an earful about homosexuality and God and told him that he could tell his teacher that he would not be participating and if she had a problem, she could come talk to me and then I threw the article in the trash.

Her son walked out and wrote his essay for the teacher anyway and texted it to his mother. It partially read:

I am gay and only my one friend knows so far. My mom doesn't know yet. My dad doesn't know yet. You didn't know it when you gave us this homework. I am only 15 years old and I have never felt so alone. My mom and dad always are being angry about gay people and talking about how they are bad and going to hell and they also always talk about how all the gays should be shipped off to their own private island or something so that the rest of us could live God's commandments in peace.



I have been so scared of them finding out that I'm gay because I know that they would hate me and would want me out of their life and at the same time I can't keep this secret anymore because it is not something I asked for, never in a million years would I ask to be gay in a town like this where everybody would hate me. And anyways I can't keep this secret anymore because I'm about to do something crazy like run away or hurt myself or something. I just want to be dead sometimes.

These words forced the mother to face reality. For years her views were in conflict with reality. But evasion comes with costs, and those costs were inflicted on her son, with years of emotional pain she never knew about. Some parents do this with full knowledge of the suffering they inflict. They may hold views that are false -- they can evade reality -- but they can't evade the consequences.

These consequences include suffering children, sons who hang themselves, older brothers who vanish from the family, distant grandchildren, and lonely deathbeds. All this, they tell us, is done out of love. How much worse could hate be, then?