So I’m new on Twitter.  I have a professional account, encouraged by my employer to help spread the word about the good work we’re doing, and a personal account that’s just for fun (Follow me at http://twitter.com/LuckyVII if you’ve got the notion).

On the professional account (I’m a diversity practitioner), I’ve signed up to follow every diversity-related account I could find.  I’m now following a number of individuals who work in Diversity, as well as handles like “Rspectful Wkplce” and “diversity_woman.”

One of the accounts I followed (until just a few hours ago was “BlackNews,” managed by the owners of BlackNews.com, the “Daily resource for African American news and issues (also includes celebrity photos).”  I suppose the paranthetical should have been a red flag, but I signed up to follow, anyway.

This morning, I saw a “tweet” that read, “Column: True Intentions of Gay Activists Now Revealed,” with a link to a column by a writer named Gwen Richardson.  Not only was it as bad as I feared it might be … it was worse.

If you can stomach it, go to http://www.blacknews.com/news/…

Below the fold, my letter to Gwen in response.Gwen,

As a diversity practitioner new to the world of Twitter, I have been eagerly "following" all of the diversity related "tweeple" I can find.  When I came across the handle for BlackNews.com, I signed up enthusiastically.

But I was dismayed when a "tweet" appeared in my inbox today, linking to your column entitled, "True Intentions of Gay Activists Now Revealed." In addition to being a diversity practitioner (working for inclusive cultures for all regardless of skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or affiliation), I am a gay man.  Correction: I am an out and proud gay man.

You won't be surprised to learn that I take issue with many of the points you raise in your column.  I'm writing today in an attempt to build a bridge rather than to throw stones.  I hope that my note will be received in the same manner that it is given.

You write,

"Their tactics initially piqued my interest about 15 years ago, when they began comparing their historical plight with that of African Americans. This comparison was absurd on its face and I wondered how they could have the temerity to make such a claim." 

Never in my life have I heard a credible voice from the LGBT equality movement state that the struggle of LGBT Americans is equal to or the same as the struggle of Black Americans.  There have been comparisons, yes – but comparisons are made to ferret out what is the same and what is different.  What Black Americans and LGBT Americans have in common is that both are oppressed minority groups in this country, and both communities contain an activist element that seeks to gain true equality with their peers in the majority group.  When I've heard these comparisons made, it's usually in the spirit of learning, i.e., what can the LGBT equality movement learn from the Black civil rights movement.

You continue,

"Homosexuals have suffered no intergenerational discrimination, have never been denied the right to vote or own property, and can disguise their sexual preference for a lifetime, if necessary." 

I'd like to respond first by addressing the issue of the closet.  As you state, some LGB persons have the ability to hide their orientation.  Some, as you're undoubtedly aware, do not have this ability.  In the same way, some African-Americans have the ability to hide their racial identity, though admittedly – most do not.  If you were to ask African-Americans who have the ability to "pass" if their lives are enriched by their lighter skin, I'm sure that many would admit to some benefits that skin privilege brings.  But they would also tell you about some deficits.  The biggest deficit is fear, the fear of being "found out," and the resentment that comes from living in a society that encourages a life in the closet.  The closet is a perfect metaphor for those who have chosen to hide.  Closets are dark, frightening, and lonely – they are no place to live one's life.  That you can only see the benefits of the closet is understandable, but with more empathy for your fellow humans, I think you'd easily be able to see the downside of such a life.  Imagine that it's your first day on the job, Gwen, and you were compelled to hide your orientation.  You'd have to remove your wedding ring, if you have one.  You'd have to refrain from speaking about your life or your family with anyone you worked with, or else play an elaborate "pronoun game" in an attempt to fool your colleagues.  There would be no pictures of family on your desk.  Your family would be discouraged from calling you at work.  You'd show up alone to company picnics and holiday parties, occasionally rebuffing awkward attempts from colleagues to set you up with their friends.  Above all, you'd go to the office every day in a shroud of fear – fear that someone wo uld find out your secret, and spread the rumor like wildfire throughout your workplace.  If you had any sense, you'd leave that job.  And yet, that's the same experience you'd easily consign your gay & lesbian colleagues to.

As for the denial of rights, those found out as gay or lesbian – in my parents' lifetime – were subject to arrest.  Once arrested, their names would appear in the paper.  Job loss and public humiliation would follow.  In terms of voting rights, not all LGBT people have been allowed to vote in our history – only the ones who were white and male.  Lesbians and LGBT people of color have suffered those indignities, though – you are correct – not because of their sexual orientation.  But your words seem to belie the idea that all LGBT people are white, male, and privileged, and this is not the case.  There are many, many Black members of the LGBT community.  I can't imagine what it must be like for them to read your column, on a web page that claims to promote the advancement of all black people, but apparently gives preference to the heterosexual members of your community, to their exclusion.  Combine that with the racism that is sometimes found among white LGBT people, and together we've consigned them to a lonely life indeed.  Finally, no – there has been no intergenerational discrimation of LGBT persons in America – but what you fail to mention is that, very often, LGBT people are shunned by their own families (witness young Maya Keyes).  LGBT boys and girls are much more likely to be homeless in America than their heterosexual peers – sadly, this is because many of these children are unwanted by their own families.  They didn't run away, they were forced out.

You write,

"Ten years ago, gay activists claimed they had no interest in pursuing gay marriage. They asserted that all they wanted was equal protection under the law, hospital visitation rights and the right to transfer property in the event of a death — all of which I support. It is now obvious that their goal all along was the advancement of gay marriage." 

Again, you fail to cite any sources, which makes any response difficult.  But my immediate reaction to this statement is that ten years ago, legalized same-gender marriage seemed like a fantasy.  So no, you wouldn't have found too many LGBT equality activists advocating for marriage rights ten years ago.  But, times change.  I submit that all of the LGBT equality activists I know are still seeking nothing more than equal protection under the law.  This includes marriage equality.  Hospital visitation rights and the right to transfer property are but two of the thousand-plus federal benefits that those in mixed-gender marriages take for granted, but are denied to same-gender couples, even those married in Massachussetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and (soon) Vermont.  Equality in the realm of civil marriage is the only way to ensure such rights, and is a natural step forward for LGBT equality activists, no matter what was said or wasn't said ten years ago.

You write,

"Gay activists also falsely claim that all homosexuals are born that way, with a so-called 'gay gene.' Not only has there been no conclusive scientific evidence to support such a claim, but a number of openly gay writers have, in their memoirs, suggested that childhood sexual molestation might be the root cause of their resultant homosexuality." 

I will confess to a belief that sexual orientation is inborn.  No, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support this (yet), but neither is there a shred of "conclusive scientific evidence" – or even compelling anecdotal evidence – to support your claim that child molestation leads to homosexuality.  Not only are there millions of openly LGBT people in the world who have never been molested, but also millions of heterosexuals who were molested as children and still turned out straight.  The closest thing we have to "conclusive scientific evidence" as it relates to homosexuality is the long-standing ruling by the American Psychological Association that a sexual orientation that leads to attraction to members of one's own gender is healthy, and attempts to "cure" an unwanted sexual orientation are dangerous and unhealthy.  Period.

You write,

"Then there is the element of experimentation with homosexuality. Actress Anne Heche, another victim of childhood molestation, dated men early in her adult life. In 1997, Heche publicly announced she was gay and that she was intimately involved with comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Three years later, she went back to dating men …" 

I will also confess that, even within the LGBT community, there is a "bisexual problem" – that is, the denial that, in addition to homosexuality and heterosexuality, a third sexual orientation exists, which leads to an attraction to members of both sexes.  While it is true that Anne Heche dated men both prior to and after her relationship with Ellen Degeneres, she never – not once – claimed that the relationship was an "experiment."  Even though the breakup was apparently painful for both of them, she has always claimed that she loved DeGeneres very much and that her commitment to her was real.

You write,

"Another falsehood told by gay lobbyists is that the Bible does not address the issue of homosexuality." 

In all my years as an LGBT equality activist, I have never made this claim, nor have I heard anyone else make it.  What you will hear LGBT equality advocates say is that Jesus never mentions homosexuality in any of the four gospels.  He speaks of sin a great deal, but never condemns those who love those of the same gender.  Moreover, according to SoulForce, "only six or seven of the Bible's one million verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way — and none of these verses refer to homosexual orientation as it's understood today."  One could also raise the issue of slavery, as endorsed by the Bible.  But all of these arguments are moot in light of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, which clearly states that there shall be no state-sponsored religion.  In other words, the Bible has no place in the discussion of legislation and laws, any more than the Torah or the Koran.  This includes laws that govern marriage.

And I'll stop there.  The final paragraphs of your column, warning that gay activists are on a mission to trounce all religious belief in this country, warrant no response from me, other than noting that such claims are false, that they are not supported by any factual evidence you saw fit to cite, and are easily refuted with a simple Google search.  The churches are not the enemy of LGBT equality; in fact, there are churches in all 50 states who will gladly offer God's blessing upon the union of a same-gender couple who seeks it.  What LGBT equality activists like me are looking for is equality under civil laws.  There may be some LGBT activists who actively hate religion, but I dare say that after the way many gay and lesbian people have been treated by the churches who raised them, I can understand why they're so angry.

I'll close by noting that my personal heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, were fervent supporters of LGBT equality.  They saw the comparision – not the co-opting, but the legitimate comparison – between two struggles for equality under the law, and they abhorred unequal legal status for anyone based on who they fundamentally are, no matter the reason.  Their stance is shared by the current leadership of the NAACP and activists such as Al Sharpton and John Lewis.  Although all of these individuals have suffered the sting of bigotry, they also note their own heterosexual privilege.  Even though their right hand is reeling in pain from a stab wound, they are aware enough to realize that their left hand is receiving a world-class manicure from a heterosexist society.  In other words, they see my pain as well as their own.  While I was profoundly disturbed by your column, I rest easy in knowing that my side is the right side of history, and that there are many within your community who see this and have put their values of equality and freedom for all into action.  I hope that one day you will join us.  And there will be no hard feelings.

red7eric

red7eric

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