The "Ex-Gay" Myth and Why it Failed Me Read More!

ralph-reedThe greatest fear in modern the modern anti-gay world these days is simple: being viewed as a bigot. Nothing sends a chill down the area where the spine normally resides of our spineless, bigoted neighbors — than being called for what they are: Bigots.

For example, popular MSNBC host Rachel Maddow sat on a panel last week to discuss the Supreme Court’s decisions on marriage equality on Meet the Press with David Gregory. Other panelists included Senator Jim DeMint and professional “Christian” Ralph Reed, suddenly back in the limelight after being tied with Jack Abramoff. You might remember Reed from his Christian Coalition days where they put out “voter guides” to help Christians determine who the most anti-gay candidates were.

During the conversation, Reed, after being handed his lunch by Dr. Maddow, decided he didn’t like being called a bigot. Here’s the exchange:

Maddow: “Gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy that makes more of us exist, or less of us exist. And you guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist, but you don’t make any less of us exist. You just are arguing in favor of more discrimination, and more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.”

Reed: “…this suggestion that because somebody wants to affirm the institution of marriage that they’re ipso facto intolerant? By that argument, Barack Obama was intolerant 14 months ago. By that argument, 342 members of the House, 85 members of the Senate, including, by the way, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Pat Leahy, who all voted for this law, and Bill Clinton who signed it into law, were intolerant and motivated by an animus and a hatred for gays.”

Maddow countered that no one was calling them bigots. Which is, of course, the truth. The only one who dropped the “b” word in this topic was Reed, who revealed the one fear that he and his anti-gay activists have used as their latest weapon: They really, really don’t like being viewed as the bigots they are.

You see, while they spend countless hours, sermon planning, and millions of dollars in the political scene to keep LGBT people from gaining basic equality (the Workplace Equality Act still hasn’t seen the light of day in Congress), they want to convince us that they’re really not acting out of animus or bigotry.

So please, dear pro-LGBT person, Ralph Reed and thousands of anti-gay bigots…. er… activists would very much like for you to not think of them as bigots. After all, they’re just loving Christians who are doing what Jesus wants them to do — to keep the gays from being treated as equal human beings. Never mind the fact that Jesus Himself did not utter a single anti-gay word anywhere in the Gospels.

So, in the interest of public service, I have decided to help my fellow Christians out a bit — and offer some loving advice on how to not be viewed as a bigot. After all, that is obviously the greatest fear out there in Evangelical land (second only to the unspoken fear that we gays will destroy the fabric of society and make straight marriages illegal. Or something). Poor Ralph Reed. He really, really, didn’t like the idea of being a bigot. So let’s help him out, shall we?

How to Not be Viewed as a Bigot

1) Don’t work to strip or prevent the rights of your LGBT neighbors.

Yes, this one is kind of a no-brainer. No matter what you say or do, this is at the top of the list for a great many reasons. If you’re out there saying how much you “love the homosexual” yet have worked to prevent a local government from even adding sexual orientation in their internal nondiscrimination policy, then you are going to have a hard time convincing me — or anyone else — that you are not, in fact, a raving anti-gay bigot.

The simple fact is that if you have put any effort whatsoever in fighting against LGBT equality, you are a bigot. There’s no other way to put it. If you have even VOTED to prevent LGBT equality, then that was the act of a bigot. I don’t care how many times you convince yourself it was about “protecting” marriage (whose greatest real enemies are divorce, spousal abuse, domestic violence, and infidelity).

Allowing gay couples the right to a civil marriage has absolutely nothing to do with your marriage, your church, or your business. Unless, of course, your business is an anti-gay political organization disguised as a religious group.

2) Stop referring to us as “sodomites.”

Yeah, another “duh” moment. Especially since every time Jesus mentioned the city of Sodom, it was not about the gays. In fact, it was how outsiders were treated. Look it up. I dare you.

3)  Stop confusing “sexual orientation” with “sexual behavior.”

We LGBT people might have a little different fun between the sheets than you might, dear straight person, but that doesn’t mean our entire lives are defined by sex. Seriously, we don’t refer to straight people as people who engage in heterosexual behavior.” I mean, really. What the hell is “homosexual behavior” anyway? Shopping? Dancing? Interior Decorating?

4) Stop blaming natural disasters on us.

Really? Did I even have to say it? The latest charge is that somehow forest fires are because of the gays. I still roll my eyes that somehow Hurricane Katrina was because of the gays getting married in Massachusetts. Seriously. Pat Robertson’s ‘god’ wiped out an entire Gulf Coast city because another state thousands of miles away lets gays get married. Or that same ‘god‘ would wipe out that same city because of a gay version of Mardi Gras that would have been held a week after the storm. Never mind the fact that the straight version of Mardi Gras isn’t exactly family-friendly.

Talk about piss-poor aim for a deity. Geez. It’s quite obvious that Mr. Robertson’s ‘god‘ is not the Creator of the Universe, but just an angrier, more shriveled-up version of himself. If that were possible.

5) Stop trying to convert gays into straight people.

Frankly, I don’t care how many times you bring up “ex-gays” like Dennis Jernigan (who is somehow “cured” because he fathered nine children) or the two or three other “ex-gay” poster children out there. In the real world, we all know that sexual orientation is impossible to be changed. Just ask other former ex-gay leaders like John Paulk, John Smid, and Alan Chambers. Gay people are gay. Straight people are straight. Bisexuals are bisexual. Transgender people are transgender. It’s not rocket science, folks.

So please, for the love of everything holy, stop trying to sweep your gay “dirt” under the ex-gay rug — and for God’s sake, stop parading these frauds as “proof.” We know better. They’re still gay as the day is long. Just because they’re better at hiding it doesn’t mean that they’re “fixed” or “cured.”

6) Stop trying to build a false “bridge” to the Church for LGBT people.

Really, we’re not idiots. We can smell a trap a mile away. When you build a “bridge” with the classic bait-and-switch tactic that they can be “gay” just so long as they don’t “BE” gay. Because, dear Christian, when you cheer on your straight buddy for his latest (heterosexual) sexual conquest and condemn your gay “friend” because he had a fling, that’s just dumb.

There’s not a single “bridge” that anyone would want to cross that would insist that loving, committed, monogamous partners should separate and live in celibacy for the rest of their lives. Asking us to do that just so you don’t have to think about us getting it on — well, that’s just pure selfishness. Get over yourself. We build relationships too. But we are not at all interested in crossing a one-way “bridge” just to make you feel better about yourself.

7) Stop going to gay pride festivals to look for people in assless chaps to show how “bad” we are.

People wearing assless chaps are about as representative of the gay community as Fred Phelps is representative of the Christian Church. We all have our extremes. When that’s all you focus on, then that’s all you’ll ever see. Yes, i’m talking to you, Peter Lababera.

8) Do not support the criminalization of homosexuality.

Another no-brainer. When the United States Department of State announces that they will withhold funding from countries that pass those laws, the proper thing to do is to support that decision — not to come out with statements in support of such barbaric legislation.

9) Stop using myths and lies to support your bigotry.

The Nazis were not homosexuals. Gays are not the same as pedophiles. NAMBLA has absolutely nothing to do with the gay rights movement. Same-sex parents do not harm children. Gays are not gay because they were sexually abused. Homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

10) Understand that we’re not you.

What does this mean? Simple. We are not interested in squelching your rights like you have done to us for decades. We’re not interested in preventing you from getting married. We’re not going to pass a law that makes it legal for someone to fire you because you’re Christian. We’re certainly not going to make Christianity illegal. Our agenda is, and always has been for you to STOP doing this things to us.

Frankly, you’ve been punching us on the face for years. It’s not an infringement on your rights to say “stop punching them in the face.” Never has been, never will be.

11) Admit you’re a bigot. And choose to change.

Sexual orientation is not a choice. It really isn’t. However, bigotry is. We do not have a choice about the situations we have to deal with in life, but we all have a choice on how we respond to those situations. Educate yourself. Make friends with gay people. I’m not talking about the “I have a gay friend” kind of friendship, either. Get to know us. Eat dinner with us. Talk with us. Let us tell you our stories. Let us tell you why it really is difficult, even in today’s times, to be gay.

You see? It’s not really that difficult to not be viewed as a bigot. All it takes is a few, common-sense measures that will keep you from getting slapped with that all-damning label. But then, it’s pretty obvious that those of you that have made a career out of fighting against LGBT equality are going to have the hardest time with this. After all, that first one — it’s a doozie.

For most of us, though, this is pretty simple. Don’t fight against my rights, and I won’t view you as a bigot. It’s not that difficult to understand.

Did I miss anything? Sound off below!

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30 Responses to How to Not be a Viewed as a Religious Bigot

  1. John Renken says:

    I have seen many false claims by you and others concerning your notion that Jesus never uttered a word about the act of homosexuality. In the Gospels, Jesus uses a word we translate as Sexual Immorality. The Greek is Porneia. The use of the word can describe various extra-marital sexual modes of behaviour insofar as they deviate from accepted social and religious norms (e.g. homosexuality, promiscuity, paedophilia, and especially prostitution). (NIDNTT)

    • Kathy Wilson says:

      Good lord, John…"accepted social and religious norms" have changed with every generation. WHICH "norm" are you referring to?

    • Scott Rose says:


    • Maureen C. Dance says:

      Oooooo Don't call him a bigot. You know they don't like that.

    • Guys, John's point was not about anything other than a statement with which he disagreed. Let's not throw accusations just because we don't like what they write. Yes, he's argumentative. Yes, he likes to argue for the sake of arguing. He's a friend of mine and I can tell you he is NOT a bigot. Goofy, yes. But definitely not bigoted.

      For the record, "porneia" does indeed have multiple meanings — but like many English words, their definition depends on the context in which they're used.

    • He didn't say anything about homosexuality SPECIFICALLY! Bible verses or it didn't happen.

      Anyway, creating same-sex/gender romantic relationships is no more harmful than eating pork, another thing the Bible forbids. There is no logical reason for it not to happen, other than if you're heterosexual or asexual/aromantic and not into people of the same sex/gender. It's just two people loving each other, what's so immoral about that?

    • John, I notice that you omitted 'adultery' (Ezek 18: 6-13) and 'divorce' (1 Cor 7:10-11) from your post. Any particular reason why? Your gospel also decries 'wearing clothing of mixed fabrics' (Lev 19:19), 'eating shellfish' (Lev 11: 10-12), 'eating or touching the flesh of a pig' (Lev 11: 7-8), 'lying' (Pro 6: 17; 12: 22), 'offerings from hypocrites' (Isa 1:13), 'bearing false witness' (Pro 6: 19), 'justifying the wicked' (Pro 17: 15), 'judging others' (Mat 7: 1-5) and many other things that religious bigots are conspicuously silent about.

    • Jo Vansteenkiste says:

      Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, because Jesus didn't excist. The Bible is just one big hoax. Ancient ghost stories from bronze age bigots to scare little kids…

    • Jen Renken says:

      You know what's most disturbing about his comment thread is the lack of respect. John voiced an opinion. If you disagree that's fine. But the the name calling straight up disrespect is shameful. Especially considering the fact that you want and demand respect for having your opinion. Obviously there will never be a place that you all can agree – but by simply disagreeing with gay marriage does not make one a bigot. If you can't voice your opinions with respect- there's a delete button. Use it. Trust me- John hears from me all the time about the same thing. It would be easier for all of us to just say "hey- do whatever you want". But just as you fight tooth & nail for your opinion so does he. Again- let me stress- opinions can be voiced without the name calling & judgement from BOTH sides.

    • Although, johns disagreement wasn't over marriage (this time)… It was on a single sentence of this post. For the record, disagreeing with marriage equality does not make one a bigot… Using political weight to keep people from getting married does.

    • Devian Ford says:

      Doreen, that was covered in extramarital affairs. Anything outside of the marriage bed is considered sinful, including after the marriage has been dissolved, either through divorce or even through a death (unless the deceased is the wife or the deceased husband's brother takes in his childless-wife, or unless your actually followed Jewish Law).

      As far as the "shellfish" and "cloven-hooved animals" thing, it was all about cleanliness Shellfish are bottom-feeders and pork is, even in today's cleaner world, still riddled with pathogens that are nigh-impossible to kill without charring the meat so badly, it becomes inedible. However, those are the laws of the Jews, NOT the Christians. I don't understand why Christians continue to follow a code that has nothing to do with them. Many quote Paul as the New Testament's version of the Jewish law, but most don't realize that a) he WAS a Jew, and 2) He even preached CONTRARY to Jesus' teachings because they were Jewish teachings (look up his teachings about marriage in 1 Cor. 6-7).

  2. Kathy Wilson says:

    Hate to sound like a kiss ass, David, but your article is freaking flipping BRILLIANT!

  3. Jan Hadden says:

    "The use of the word can describe various extra-marital sexual modes of behaviour insofar as they deviate from accepted social and religious norms"-John Renken EXTRA-MARITAL…well, thanks, John for actually arguing on the side of gay people WHO WANT TO GET MARRIED!

  4. Please try to stay on topic, guys.

  5. Rebecca Lea says:

    I would hate to be an anti-gay activist and be named Jack Abramoff.

  6. John Renken says:

    Kathy, my comment was the Biblical norm. I have often told David, I don't mind him arguing for gay equality and often say nothing about it unless it is a misrepresentation of what the Bible says.

    Valerie there actually quite a few condemnations of gay marriage and homosexual marriage within the Bible. As far as what's wrong with 2 people loving one another? Nothing. What's wrong with 2 men or 2 women loving each other in a sexual way or being married you will need to ask God, since he is the one who very specifically prohibits it.

    Doreen I was only silent about that since adultery wasn't the point of the post, however Porneia is actually used by Jesus concerning adultery as well. As Greek scholars concur Porneia is literally used for all sexual activity outside the context of one man and woman as defined by God in the Bible both old and New Testaments.

    Jo English as a second language is available and even skeptics of the claims of Christ acknowledge he was real since he was talked about in roman history books.

    Jan, I appreciate your humor but that for sure wasn't re point I was making :)

    • Martha Warnock Kyzer says:

      What we have to remember is the understanding they had in biblical times about human reproduction, or mammal reproduction for that matter. Note that Leviticus references a man lying with a man but says nothing about a woman with a woman. If the objective was to prohibit gay activity, it seems logical it would have mentioned both. But they understood reproduction as they did planting crops. They thought the man carried the "seed" or the entire components of a potential offspring. The woman was just the vessel containing nutrients, like soil. So it was equally sinful for a man to "spill his seed" or deposit it anywhere other than the appropriate vessel. Way to make a boy feel guilty about something natural and uncontrollable like nocturnal emissions. Our better understanding of ovum, sperm, cellular activity and DNA has made it so that we can understand that these erronious ideas lead them to make erronious rules to apply.

  7. Daniel Bootblack Woodward says:

    I love this article, but please please please people, stop calling them "assless chaps." Chaps by definition are assless. "Assless chaps" is as redundant as saying "sleeveless vest."

  8. Gary Garbenus says:

    If you have to keep saying, "I'm not a Bigot"….

    Say it with me, "You're a Bigot".

  9. Kate Jessop Whitehead says:

    David, I love your point about Sodom. My husband loves to educate his congregations that the sin was one of lack of hospitality. How that has been perverted and misunderstood. Great article, thanks.

  10. Gini Barrett says:

    I saw this interchange and was once again overwhelmed with admiration for Rachel Maddow. I could never be as logical and calm while talking to these creeps as she is – always the ultimate professional. Bless her.

  11. Wendy Wu Whoo says:

    I agree with your article David. The examples that are in the bible of how to respond to someone that rejects the gospel is to dust of your feet and move on. I see absolutely no biblical example of Jesus or his disciples arguing with those that reject the message, tormenting those that rejecting the message, being abusive to those rejecting the message, bullying those that reject the message, or trying to legalize their message through tyrannical, legal force. So, is it really about the message of Jesus, righteous living or about the bible at all or is it about the validation of their egotistical need to be seen as "right" which they will go to a lot of length to earn that ego stroke (and they may have to pay a legal price for it if they commit a civil crime or a criminal crime against a homosexual- no victim persecution party there. If you commit a crime, you are going to pay the price and/or do the time. If you bully someone, people aren't going to like you. You bring that on yourself. Nobody is victimizing you.) and their own fears and their own insecurities and isolating those that makes them feel a tad bit uncomfortable for reasons other than having to do with Christ? Christ never acted like they do towards anyone that rejected him or even those that killed him. He never heckled them or dehumanized them or overtly condemned them or engaged in a battle of the ego with them. It seems to me that if you really follow Christ as you claim, you would want to be an imitator of him and seek to live as he did. Further more, Jesus said you would be persecuted for his names sake and for following after righteousness and to count it all joy. So, which Jesus are you serving, which gospel are you following, what bible are you reading, and where is your joy?

    @Jen: The comments posted are pretty civil and pretty tame. I have certainly seen and heard worse behavior among Christians that cannot agree on something within their own church group like where to go eat fried chicken at after church or which one is Jesus' favorite. Perhaps nothing is more dehumanizing, demeaning, arrogant, presumptuous, insulting, and so unChrist like as someone who thinks that others are being rude, demeaning, assaulting, and disrespectful towards you/someone simply for disagreeing with your/their opinion and for not submitting to the assumed sense of power, elevated self worth, and false control they think they deserve to have over another human being. If you have convictions, follow them in your own life and being saved by Christ doesn't give you a right to treat others as being less than human to satisfy your ego needs.

  12. Wendy Wu Whoo says:

    Definition of BIGOT.
    : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

    • Wendy Wu Whoo says:

      Being tolerant and treating another human being with dignity and respect does not mean you have to agree with them or their views. It simply means that you tolerate the fact that they are human beings just like you that are entitled to their own opinion without being being devalued, dehumanized, or bullied for their opinion.

  13. Jay Sheckley says:

    Good- youre concerned about extramarital sex, so you will back Marruage Equality

  14. […] David Shelton sees this chicken-and-egg problem and tries to address both the fear and the failure of imagination straight-on. This is Shelton’s 10th point in a long, helpful post on “How to Not Be Viewed as a Bigot“: […]

  15. […] back and choking them, you don’t get to paint yourself as the good guy. Another blogger explains how not to be viewed as a religious bigot. For starters, stop assuming that the people you’re […]

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