Do You Hate “Queers”?
by John B
What would you do if your son or daughter sat down one day and said, "I'm gay"? How would you handle it? Would you sit speechless and dumbfounded? Fly into a rage? Disown him or her and order them out of your house? Plunge into denial and make yourself believe it was only a joke?
What would you do?
Let's be blunt: in the Worldwide Church of God we were taught to hate homosexuals. There is no denying that fact. We were literally expected to hate them! Ministers railed about masturbation, so you can only imagine what they said about homosexuality. They may have given lip service to the notion of "hate the sin but love the sinner", but it was just that -- lip service. Homosexuals were the scum of the earth. They were "better off dead", and many people wished they were.
If you were ever a part of WCG, then you know what I'm talking about. Rod Meredith in particular was completely polarized on the subject. His landmark article in a 1961 Plain Truth magazine was entitled "The Shocking Truth About Queer Men!" Rod once came to my area to give a sermon and spent the night in a local hotel. The next morning, he told us, he and his wife noticed a "whole lot of queers" parading around the hotel and the restaurant. Rod asked a waitress about it and she told him, "Didn't you know that this weekend is the Closet Queen festival?" Rod, again according to him, told the waitress: "OF COURSE NOT! IF WE HAD KNOWN THAT, WE WOULDN'T HAVE STAYED HERE!"
Certainly there must have been quite a few church members who were gay, even if they were no longer practicing. But did you ever know who they were? I never did. I can only imagine how they must have felt, forced to conceal their real identities just to keep "the brethren" from hating them. Very sad.
What about you? How do you feel about "queers"?
In recent months, quite a lot of attention has been focused on gay rights and same-sex marriage. Certain courts have tried to end-run around the laws in several states that ban gay marriage, but in many cases, when the matter came up for a vote by the people, the original ban has been upheld. People in general seem unprepared to accept the notion of gay marriage, even though gays are allowed to adopt children. Most religious leaders condemn the idea of gay marriage and even President Bush has publicly opposed it.
But this article isn't about gay marriage or what the President thinks. This article is about you and me, our attitudes, and our prejudices. How do you feel about homosexuals? Do you hate queers? Are you okay with them as long as you don't have to be around them (sort of a live and let live attitude)? Would you panic if you learned that one of your children was gay?
A few months ago I was in contact with a lady who is related to several people I used to attend church with. I haven't seen or talked to this family in over 13 years, so I was interested in hearing how they were doing. Turns out they are still in one of the splinter cults (no surprise). What was most interesting is that one of their sons is gay. He doesn't even try to hide it. Yet his parents are in complete denial. He has had two gay roommates, but the parents have an explanation for that: "Both of them used to be married!"
Used to be married. But they're not married now, and they are living with your son! HELLO! Amazing how people can shove their heads up their...er, in the sand, isn't it? If you can't face something, just start humming. It will go away.
Right and Wrong
In 1992, when I left the cult for the last time, I realized with quite a shock that everything I had ever believed was based on either my mother's beliefs or church teaching (usually one and the same). It occurred to me that, at age 44, I no longer knew what was right and wrong. Where once I had known everything, suddenly I didn't know anything at all. I had to reexamine every single belief, opinion, and attitude. It was a daunting task. It took years. And I'm not finished yet.
One of the subjects I had to revisit was the issue of homosexuality. I had been taught that it was an abomination, an affront to God. I had always believed that queers deserved to die. Hell, even the Bible said so! They were a plague, a virus, a threat to humanity.
Or were they?
We were taught that gay people were gay by choice. Even when certain studies began to suggest that some people were born gay, the church rejected it out of hand. People were gay because of their environment, we were told. Maybe it was their mothers' fault (let's be real quick to pin everything on the women, why don't we?), or maybe they were just evil people. No doubt some of them were demon-possessed!
I truly don't know if people are born gay or not. I suspect it's possible that environment can come into play. Many lesbians, for example, have been sexually abused as children and are simply not able to trust a man, so perhaps they feel safer with women. It's also true that many gay men have been sexually molested, so perhaps that is a factor as well. But not all homosexuals have suffered such abuse. Not all of them were raised without a masculine father. Not all of them have lived in dysfunctional homes. Yet they are still gay.
I'm not a doctor, a scientist, a psychologist, or a professional in any of the humanities. But it seems very likely to me that some gay people are indeed born gay. Perhaps most of them. Maybe even all of them. If that is the case, then I have to put myself in their shoes and reason it out.
Here is the exercise I went through -- I offer it to you to ponder:
I am a heterosexual. I am attracted to women. The very idea of having intimate contact with a male is inconceivable. Given that, what would I do if 90% of the world was homosexual and I was not? I would be the queer one, not them. So what would I do? Would I try to conform? Marry a man and hope I could make it work? Pray and fast and study and ask God to change me into a homosexual?
What would you do?
My answer was easy. No matter how queer I felt, no matter how much I prayed or studied or fasted or tithed, it would do no good. My sexual orientation comes from inside my cells, not from my environment. I am magnetized to desire the female, not the male. There is nothing I can do about that. No matter how much I wanted to, how hard I tried, I could never switch over to become homosexual!
Now put yourself inside the head of the homosexual. Try to empathize with him. If you find yourself unable to switch from hetero to homo, how can you expect him to switch from homo to hetero? The answer? You can't. It's completely unreasonable. What might seem queer to you or me is normal for him or her. And it's unrealistic to expect a person to change what God gave him that makes him a unique human being. Hell, for all you and I know, God created gays as a population control! Sound fantastic? It probably is. But I don't know for sure and neither do you.
The Original Question
Now, back to the original question. What would you do if one of your kids suddenly announced that he was gay?
You can answer that one yourself, but I already know what I would do. I have three kids, all of them unique, wonderful people. I love them so much it hurts. If one of them should one day announce that they are coming out of the closet...I would feel bad that they would have to face the prejudice they would face, but they are still my kids! I would continue to love them as unconditionally as I do today!
What about you? Do you hate queers?
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