I was a very homophobic person. I had never been able to have the same kind of relationship with my dad ever since finding out he was gay. After he’d put himself back together post-divorce he was still very much the loving and smart and funny person that he’d been before, but I wouldn’t let myself get truly close to him again. I still spent time with him, of course. Our family was very good about bringing the disparate elements together in a surprisingly peaceful fashion. We could have holiday meals with my mom and her new husband, my dad and his boyfriend, and various extended family members and friends and these holidays were pretty peaceful and enjoyable.
My mom continued to be extremely homophobic even as she welcomed my dad and his partner and his (also gay) best friend into her home. She – and conservative Christians generally – continued to dump poison into my mind. Gay men were more likely to be child molesters. I couldn’t picture my dad as a child molester – I felt pretty confident on that score – but how well did I know his friends, the men he dated, and the man that would eventually become his partner? I took my children to see my dad but I never let them spend the night without me.
I had gay friends, of course. The friend that came to the courthouse to be a witness for my husband and I had come out as gay. There were others from our broader gaming group that were out as gay, or bi. I liked them. They were nice people. Nice people that needed to learn to be straight, of course, or be celibate at least, though it wasn’t my business to tell them that. That was between them and God.
As my religious indoctrination faded and I moved from conservative to libertarian to maybe liberal my homophobia softened. People pointed out that Jesus never made a big deal about gay people, and he could have if he wanted to. Christians looked like enormous hypocrites focusing on whether or not a person was gay when they had many sins in their midst that received no attention and were not following God’s commands, either.
I started making friends among the heretics and the heathens and the liberal Christians on the homeschool alumni forum. My sister convinced me to join Facebook and my friendships broadened and deepened, until I cared about some of these people I knew online as much as I cared for the people I knew offline. One of these friends, a mutual friend of mine and my sisters, came out as bi. Because we already had that kind of relationship, she educated me on what that meant for her and how she knew. She introduced me to a bit of data I had never once stopped to consider: no one chooses to be attracted to someone.
No one chooses to be attracted to someone. I had never been able to look at a person and choose to feel attracted to them. I just was or I wasn’t. That meant people that weren’t straight didn’t choose to be attracted to someone, either. If they were attracted to someone of the same sex, it was as involuntary as it was for me to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
Of course, people still chose to have sex with people. Just because you were attracted to someone didn’t mean you had to pursue sex with them. I certainly didn’t.
Here with this line of thinking I found myself confronted, once again, by the idea of suffering as a tool of learning and becoming a better person. Apparently God created people gay, then denied them companionship and sex, something that was not denied to people that were attracted to those of the opposite sex. Why purposely hand out this extra burden and extra suffering? Other people could learn how to be better people without having to live a celibate life.
How was this being loving?