For anyone who follows, I wrote a new blog post today (http://wp.me/pv9nk-qd) about the definition of life and the definition of sexuality.
But what I didn't write about is all of the various conversations about same-sex marriage that have been going on this week, and especially since the whole Chick-Fil-A fiasco. Conversations are happening on Facebook, Twitter (or, in my case, HootSuite), and on a ton of blogs and websites.
Yes, there were loonies who think all gays molest children, engage in fisting and corpophilia (yes, there were those people), and are riddled with STDs. But there are also well-meaning people who either don't have all the facts or have bad information who are genuinely concerned about the perceived rise of homosexuality and the conversation about same-sex marriage in culture today.
My question is: What tactics are people using in discussions with these "reasonable" Christians, what questions are coming up consistently, and are any hearts or minds being swayed?
I do some work with groups like Minnesotans United for All Families and the HRC, and they say that personal stories are the best tactics for getting through to people. People can argue with facts, but it's harder to argue with personal experience. Have you tried that?
Yeah, as in the ways in which discrimination against the GLBT community has directly affected you, or the things that you care about personally. Christians talk about their beliefs in an emotional, personal way. I've been writing lately about my own journey and how I came to be an atheist and how questioning my beliefs allowed me to come out as gay. At the very least it brings some humanity to an otherwise faceless issue. It's harder to hate us when they can see the whites of our eyes.
I once spoke to a woman who had worked on the stage, had been around many gay people, and knew that it was a myth that gay people were pedophiles who were out to convert everyone. She worked for the 700 Club. Her only objection to gay people was that it is the way it is in the Bible. So there are some people who will never come around.
But, I know of people who have changed their minds just because of their relationship with me, whether it be through knowing someone in my family, or working with me etc.
After a while, for some of them, it is no longer "gay people" or "those people." The issues now involve a real person who they know. Sometimes familiarity breeds acceptance.
Unfortunately, for some gay people and atheists, seeking acceptance means compromising who they are in order to gain acceptance from others. For me, it has always meant being myself, no matter what the reaction. Either they will never accept me for who I am or eventually they will come to see me as a fellow human who is entitled to the same happiness and freedom of expression as anyone else.
Part of gaining acceptance for who you are, in fact the first step, is showing others that you accept yourself, no matter what others think.
If you are having trouble accepting yourself then you have no right expecting others to do something that you cannot do for yourself. After learning to accept and love yourself you then learn to treasure those who care about who you are, and not to care as much about those who do not accept you.
The complication here is that if the no-acceptance comes from a family member or "good" friend. If that is the case, all we can do is live as an example to others, hope that they will come around, and embrace the people in our lives who do accept us for ourselves.
While it may be extremely painful if the rejection is from a parent or other loved ones, pretending to be someone other than who you are, is not only dishonest to yourself and others, it is seeking the approval and affection from others, based on a falsehood.