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kohadril's Avatar Joined about 2 years ago
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Advice for an Angry Gay Atheist - last commented 12 May 2012 02:29 AM

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kohadril's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by kohadril

I think it's a reasonable criticism that I started this thread and have not participated much in it. I feel like the first few posters answered my question, but I have read with interest the rest of the thread, digression and all.

I can't say that I have much to add to the new discussion besides my own personal experience. I self-identify as gay for two different but related reasons: 1) I am now, and have always been, exclusively sexually attracted to members of my own sex and 2) I am now, and have always been, interested in romantic companionship exclusively with members of my own sex. For me, the first is definitive of the term "homosexual" as a sexual preference, while the second I more directly associate with the word "gay." I'm not sure I can say why that is, though.

Perhaps I am not the best person to answer the question of how gays generally self-identify, as I am not particularly active in what is generally considered the "gay community," nor am I much of a participant in "gay culture." Most of my friends and relations are straight. Indeed, I am not entirely convinced that "gay culture" is itself something that ought to be considered distinct from "straight culture" or culture generally, though to the extent that it is necessary to LGBT political solidarity (it may or may not be) such a distinction may take some share of the credit for the political accomplishments of that movement.

On stereotypes and their genesis I have this to add: I came out very late in life despite coming from a very tolerant family. In a way, the existence and continuation of gay stereotypes may be at least in part my fault, and the fault of those like myself, for whom remaining in the closet is easy (as I did not fit common gay stereotypes, and was unlikely to be suspected or discovered) and who as a result feel little impulse to come out. Those of us who don't come out conceivably conceal alternative "ways to be gay" from culture as a whole, and thereby reinforce mainstream ideas about what it means to be gay. That said, I cannot take responsibility for, or excuse anyone else for, using existing cultural associations with homosexuality to generate derisive or derogatory stereotypes.

But all of this seems quite apart from religious hatred of homosexuality, whatever its roots may be, as this is ultimately inaccessible to reason. The writers of Leviticus may have written what they did due to certain negative associations they developed with respect to homosexuals due to cultural traditions and norms, but any number of people with no exposure whatsoever to homosexuals, or even to the concept of homosexuality, may still instantly learn to despise, fear, or pity homosexuality because of their literal adherence to words set down by bronze-age nomads. Put another way, some people might hate homosexuals due to an innate revulsion, or because they were exposed to negative stereotypes, but either of those possibilities seems more correctable and less unsettling than the reality that some people hate homosexuals for no other reason than that they believe they are commanded by God to do so.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 00:56:06 UTC | #930858

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kohadril's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by kohadril

Thanks guys. I've been quiet but I've been reading every comment. Sjoerd, you're right: I feel immensely better having even put my thoughts in words, and the rest of you are right that 1) it is not unreasonable to despise objectionable views and 2) that is not the same as hating the people who hold them. I think Cartomancer's point that "religion" is a cover used to legitimize otherwise obviously unacceptable beliefs is a productive one: while I find superstition ridiculous, it is sexism, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism that I find actually enrage me, and I feel that way about those things in nonreligious contexts as well.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 15:03:51 UTC | #930172

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