Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I wrote a letter to a network that was planning to air an anti-gay documentary called "Speechless"

They claim they are being silenced as Christians. I begged to differ. HRC sent me the letter to send, but I edited it into my own words:

I'm writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to air the American Family Association's one-hour program, "Speechless: Silencing the Christians."

WOOD-TV has a responsibility to truth in advertising. Therefore, I think that instead of this program we should have a fair debate in the Sunday program "To the Point". There we can talk about LGBT issues fairly, with both sides represented.

I would also question the claim made by the "Speechless" announcer that the shift in attitudes towards gay and transgender citizens is "not an accident, but the result of a sphisticated propaganda campaign".

While some of the credit for the attitude change can go to the educational efforts of LGBT organizations, I would also include that a good chunk of the reason for change goes to the renewed courage of young gay and trans teens coming out and telling to their loved ones, friends, teachers, and co-workers who they are. This courage was less likely in the times before visibility of gay education campaigns. More than ever, young people feel less afraid to be honest, because they know there are hundreds of others like them struggling to do the same thing. So the education campaign played a role...but not quite as the "Speechless" announcer would claim.

Let's learn from history and demand that gay people, their lives, and their struggles, get represented accurately and with fair and open discussion.

The one thing these Christians may try to avoid saying is that the "gospel" they are trying to defend is this: "homosexuality is wrong, immoral and sick". All of this is an accurate description of their gospel and they are free to practice in in their religious spaces. But it is not supported by science or mental health experts. Homosexuality was dropped from the list of disorders in 1973, not because people were forced to change their minds, but because they had to face the reality that they didn't study homosexuality objectively in the first place. All gay people studied in the prior studies were mental health patients. Since mental health patients are sick by definition (whether gay or straight), and these patients happened to be gay, then it was jumped to the conclusion that sick = gay.

What happens when you study gay people OUTSIDE the mental clinic? Then we got the real answers: gay people who had the environment to adjust to their orientation were as mentally healthy as stright counterparts, and were just as likely to be contributing members of society by having successful empoyment, good volunteering, and other community aciivities --- all the things their straight counterparts did.

The Christians in this video, who are by no means representative if the entire Christian community, will continue to portray gays as sick using the same biased methods as the failed studies of the past: they find members of the gay community struggling with drugs or mental health, and conclude that gay = sick. By this logic straight = sick too because there's PLENTY of straight people who are struggling with drugs. Moreover, the studies that DO find extra hardship with being gay are not a result of the gayness causing the self-problems, but rather it is the anti-gay environment, communities, and religious circles, bullying schoolyards, and other prejudicial places that push gay youth to greater risks of suicide, dropouts, and drugs than their straight counterparts. Such toxic, torment-inducing anti-gay prejudice may find new roots if the "Speechless" video is allowed to air, instead of a fair debate where ALL sides can speak openly.

Too many gay neighbors, citizens, and youngsters have been punished for the words of people claiming the voice of "gospel". Let's get the truth and get it right this time.

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