Today, I write this blog with a heavy heart. Two men that I have had the pleasure of knowing died – one from suicide, the other from the complications of addiction. The common denominator in both of their deaths was a lifetime of trying to suppress the deepest longing of their soul which was to love another man. My purpose for writing this blog today is to ask the question, “How many gays have to die before we, as a culture, change our attitudes around homosexuality and other expressions of sexual orientation?”
Rolling Stone Magazine in their expose of the anti-gay culture in the Anoka-Hennepin School District said the following about suicide among gay youth:
“Suicide rates among gay and lesbian kids are frighteningly high, with attempt rates four times that of their straight counterparts; studies show that one-third of all gay youth have attempted suicide at some point (versus 13 percent of hetero kids), and that internalized homophobia contributes to suicide risk.”
Of course, not every homosexual turns to alcohol, drugs or suicide as a means of repressing their truth. Many have the loving support of family and friend, adults in their lives who have modeled an open and empowered homosexual lifestyle, religious institutions that honor all spectrums of sexual orientation as divine gifts, and some have the inner strength to embrace their orientation and live it freely. But even for these men and women, the journey is not easy. “Homosexuality is not a choice,” I have heard many of my gay friends say, on the one hand acknowledging the genetic and biological nature of sexual orientation and on the other hand, suggesting that the road might have been easier if God/dess had decided to make them straight. I propose that the only reason the latter might be true is because our culture continues to uphold heterosexuality as the norm and as the “right” choice. Anything that differs from this “norm,” is then questioned, and most often condemned.
But the fact remains, homosexual people are dying because we live in a culture where homosexuality is judged as negative and condemned, most often, as a sin. Gays are dying because they do not have the affirmation, validation and support they need to be the person God/dess made them to be and because it is a battle to find the support one needs to identify, embrace and live ones truth. Then to make matters worse, there are the so-called Christians hurling judgment and condemnation at homosexuality as being depraved, evil and the work of the devil, crafting their beliefs in a way that justifies their condemning and hateful attitudes and actions against homosexuality.
This needs to change. First of all, people need to stop using Jesus as the excuse for their fear. In none of the gospels does Jesus address homosexuality. In fact, on this topic, he is quite silent. Secondly, we as human beings, need to stop fearing what appears to be different or what seems to stands apart from our own personal experiences. Third, we need to be willing to listen to our own truth and move through the fears of living that truth – when we are denying our own truth, it is easy to project that shame outward on to others. It is not a surprise that often the loudest anti-homosexual and anti-gay voices are from those who are suppressing their own latent homosexuality or who at the very least are attempting to compensate for their own fear in an unsure world by creating tightly-held definitions of right and wrong, good and bad, saved and condemned.
The bottom line in all of this is that instead of being fearful of our own truth or the truth of another, we need to learn how to LOVE – to set aside the perceived separations within ourselves, between each other and between ourselves and love. When we set aside perceived separations and realize the truth of oneness, we REMEMBER that love is our very nature, and that there is, in truth, nothing that can separate us from this love. When we know the love that we are, we have no choice but to be loving and compassionate toward those we might initially perceive as different from ourselves. Furthermore, when we remember the love that we are and remember our oneness in love, we discover that each and every person is a unique expression of love in the world, and we learn to honor each other as holy and sacred in our own right as individual manifestations of this love. Beyond simply knowing this, we then reach out a hand in friendship with the goal of understanding and coming to know the unique magnificence of each human being. This, above all, is my prayer for the world – that we remember this love not only for the sake of homosexuality, but for the sake of all we might be tempted to judge as different based on the color of our skin, our gender, nationality, religious beliefs, etc. etc. etc. In the end, it is all love, and love is all there is.
In closing, I offer a prayer of healing and comfort for the family and friends of these men who have died and a prayer of hope and support for all the men, women and children out there who are coming to know their sexual orientation and my wish that they find the love and support they need to embrace their truth and find ways to live it freely in the world.