Words affect us. They can hurt us. They can give us strength. They can positively reinforce or negatively tear us down. They can inspire us to action or cause a reaction.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." In a country where many place professional athletes on the highest of pedestals, NBA player Jason Collins did a brave thing when he wrote those words. We have yet to see the impact they will have on his NBA career, but regardless, it took courage, especially when he has so far to fall. In a society that is fickle enough to love you one minute and turn on you the next, Mr. Collins faced his fear and embraced his life. Hopefully, his coming out will be an example that living in truth is better than living in fear of truth.
In our slowly evolving society we still have too many people willing to publicly denounce gay people with verbal criticisms. On the program Outside the Lines, ESPN reporter Chris Broussard became another to voice his opinion on the matter. He said:
Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle.... If you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says "you know them by their fruits." It says that, you know, that's a sin. And if you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality [but] adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.
The day after making the above statements, Mr. Broussard spoke via phone with the hosts of the radio program Breakfast Club on New York's Power 105.1. As a basis for his beliefs, he cited biblical passages from 1 Corinthians and Romans in the New Testament, as well as from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. He did make a point of saying that not all Old Testament laws (e.g., prohibitions against wearing blended fabrics and eating shrimp) carried forward in the new covenant made in the New Testament. But why cite Leviticus at all in this matter, then? Then I remembered we're dealing with people who have their go-to passages for proving that homosexuality is wrong.
Mr. Broussard must not have a problem with those NBA players who have tattoos. I mean, the Bible does state in Leviticus 19:28, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." That looks like a direct quotation from God himself. Then there's Leviticus 20:10: "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." We wouldn't even consider doing that today. As for 1 Corinthians, in chapter 7:32-35 Paul suggests that we stay single so that we can focus on God without the distraction that marriage brings. Paul's words, not God's. I'm not using these verses to make fun of Mr. Broussard; I'm using them to point out that we can't pick and choose what we're going to follow then ignore the rest.
With the right to speak one's mind afforded to every person who lives in this country, I acknowledge that Mr. Broussard has every right to speak his. He can do so privately or publicly if he desires, but come on. To quote Aibileen from the film The Help, "Ain't you tired?"
To all those out there who sometimes act like superior human beings I ask, "Ain't you tired?" I'm tired. I'm tired of conservative, straight Christians like Mr. Broussard saying that they're OK with gay people but think we should constantly fight against our same-sex attraction.
When I began to experience attraction, I was drawn to men. It's wired in my brain. Fighting those feelings would be like fighting the urge to drink water when I'm dehydrated. I can't accept that the God I believe in wants that. Gay people are born. We're not recruited or converted, and we don't make a choice. We are gay from birth, and then we have to try to understand our feelings as we hit puberty in a society that often tells us that we are not normal. If it's not normal for anyone to be born gay, then why does God allow us gay people to keep being born?
I refuse to believe I was born with a disadvantage, expected every day to fight against my same-sex attraction in order to please God. This expectation that I should fight my attraction to men comes from members of society who fear what they don't understand. I've never once thought I should be disappointed in God for making me gay. I've questioned it, yes, but I haven't been disappointed, and I don't think God is disappointed in me. I also don't think I'm living in open rebellion to him. God is the higher power with understanding beyond that of the human mind.
Straight people are not the chosen few who get to participate in and enjoy a sex life. We gay men are not supposed to be sitting alone in a corner somewhere crying, wishing we could be dancing with the hot guy sitting across from us. We're supposed to be dancing with him.
Every gay person who continues to come out and live his or her life, regardless of the threat of discrimination, hate speech, family rejection and condemnation based on religious laws, is braver than anyone who will quote the Bible as the reason for stating that another person's life is wrong. We're supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and loving ourselves starts with accepting ourselves. If that includes being gay, then we have to strive to be true to ourselves, love ourselves, live our lives and love whom we love.
Thank you, Jason Collins, for being another man to show us that living our lives in our truth is important; you're an inspiration. And thank you, Mr. Broussard, for showing us, once again, the hypocritical side of many of today's Christians.