All Points Of View Are Not Equally Valid

Disclaimer: Controversial Opinions is a series in which I’m essentially thinking out loud. I don’t think every one of my opinions is right, and I’m open to changing my mind when shown a new perspective. If any of this starts feeling like a manifesto, I assure you my intention is just to get my thoughts out and off my chest. You’re welcome to agree or disagree, I’m doing this for myself as much as anything, but I do hope you get something out of reading this.

I’ve had enough of this notion that “liberal” and “conservative” are equally valid points of you. This is a false equivalency. They are not equally valid. In our culture, “conservative” has essentially become a code word for “racist, sexist, homophobic,” or generally just bigoted. Think about it, any time you see someone attacking the rights of gay people, black people, or attempting to impose religious rule on others, it’s ALWAYS a conservative who’s doing it for their “conservative values.”

One thing that really bothers me is when we don’t take people at their word when it comes to what they believe. We should believe what the vast majority of conservatives have to say about their values. Conservative values are the values of bigotry and religious oppression. Liberal values are the idea that people deserve equality, life, healthcare, bodily autonomy, the ability to love whoever they choose and build families in any way they see fit. In other words, liberal values are exactly the values the country was founded on, the idea of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any rose-tinted views of the American founding fathers as enlightened progressive pacifists. They did after all fight in a revolution and, no matter how progressive they may have been at the time, they were likely all abominable racists. Even the ones who didn’t have slaves didn’t consider black people equal to white people, or women equal to men. So don’t mistake me as saying that liberal values are the values of the founding fathers. People idolize the founding fathers too much and in America they are essentially worshiped as gods, but that’s another topic and we’ll get to that in a moment.

Even though making a blanket statement about all liberals or all conservatives is bound to be wrong in some instances, the fact remains that the vast majority of people who believe in equality and freedom for all races, genders, and sexual orientations, are and have always been, liberal. And the people who oppose progress, the people who chant racial slurs, the people who protest a black girl going to a white school or want to keep water fountains segregated or try to pass legislation banning transgender people from using the bathroom, are always conservative. Conservatives are always on the wrong side of history and liberals are on the right side of it.

Don’t mistake me as thinking liberals are perfect. One of the reasons I admire Bill Maher so much is that he calls out liberals on their bullshit. I think that liberals have gotten a lot of things wrong about the way we view culture and it’s appropriation, and policing the way people are allowed to express themselves, but in general, being liberal is being decent, and being conservative is being bigoted. So I’m tired of hearing people say they’re a conservative as though that’s a decent and worthwhile thing to be. When someone says they’re a conservative, it’s most likely a very nice way of saying they’re racist, or they’re homophobic, or they’re transphobic, or they’re in some way opposed to equality.

 

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(I want to preface this post by saying that these words were originally written as a post on Facebook, and ordinarily I don’t put my Facebook posts here on the blog, because usually Facebook posts are less thought out than my blog posts, and the quality of writing isn’t as good because it’s very off the cuff. However I got a really positive reaction to this post and a lot of people said it made them think or it affected them, so I’m going to post it here on the blog in the hopes that it might affect someone else.)

My whole life I have lived in fear because I’m gay. My boyfriends have refused to let me touch or hold their hand in public because they were genuinely afraid we would get shot. People can say what they want about change or progress, but through my eyes, the world is a place that abhors and hates gay people. It isn’t about politics or points of view. This is a world in which being gay is a crime punishable by the bloodiest death imaginable.

If you are gay, you have to get out of bed in the morning and fight the entire world. If you are gay, you have to live in fear everywhere you go. If you are gay, you have to drive past church billboards and protesters and rallies of people, all plotting ways to kill you. Every piece of homophobic rhetoric is an incitement to violence. Every person talking about “traditional marriage” is inciting violence; every time any person abhors homosexuality they are inviting the most unstable of us to kill. There is no debate. There is no middle ground. Homosexuality is real and homosexual people are worthy. If you don’t agree with that, if you fight against that, your actions are inciting death.

Am I angry at the man who killed fifty of my brothers and sisters? I don’t know. I don’t know what I feel. But right now, in THIS moment, I feel sad for him. I feel sad because he was afraid, he was afraid of what this entire homophobic world told him. I understand the desire to hurt someone. I understand what it’s like to be fucked up in the head, and to not know how to take out your anger. His anger overpowered him and he took it out on those innocent people.

It’s said that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic state. I did not grow up around Islam. But I can tell you what I do know, and that’s Christianity. I ask you to please remember that I am sharing my personal experience here. I have seen Christianity. I have seen every kind of Christian.

I have seen my grandmother, who was kind and loving, who never let me leave her house without kissing me and telling me she loved me, even when she was mad at me.

I have seen the Westboro Baptist Church, and I ask you to please, PLEASE believe me when I tell you that as a gay man from Charlotte, North Carolina, you would be very surprised to know that the sentiments written on those Westboro Baptist Church placards are shared by MANY Christians.

Now hold on. If you just rolled your eyes or thought “That’s a minority of people,” or “Yeah, but that doesn’t represent everyone or even that faith,” or anything like that, just wait a moment. Please listen. This is my experience. I’m telling you what I’ve seen.

Even the people who are kind, who take people in and help them, who feed the poor, even those people have no qualms about talking candidly about “niggers” and “fags” the moment the door is closed. As an example, there is a woman I knew from the time I was a child, who loved me and whose grandchildren were my friends, who was kind and smiled and laughed and who gave me food every time I came into her house. This was a patently good person. And when I mentioned off-handedly that I was gay she laughed and said “Now Jesse, you are too much of a nice boy to be a fag.”

I have seen the face of Christianity. It is self loathing, it is fear, it is embracing worthlessness, it is absolving yourself of personal responsibility, it is denial of pleasure and joy, it is hatred of the world around you, it is a loathing for the world and a longing for death and for a paradise beyond death, it is a fear of anger and retribution and fire, it is a longing to be unworthy, it is an obscene lust to be persecuted, it is a desire to prostrate yourself at all times before a master who condemns you, it is a sadomasochistic fascination with being unclean and hating yourself. This is the Christianity I have seen, and I am telling you the truth.

I am not surprised that the shooter claimed an allegiance to Islamic ideals. And it inst because I’m Islamophobic (at least not anymore than I’m Christophobic). It’s because I understand what Christianity can do to people. Islam is a sister religion to Christianity. Christianity and Islam share many things, and there differences are often only superficial: both religions contain the same calls to violence and the same condemnation of anyone who opposes their views. They also both contain beautiful poetry and wise people. But ultimately these religions are no different.

Let us not get sidetracked by focusing too much on the man with the gun who killed those people. Remember that he killed those people in that club BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY. If you deny this then you’re burying your head in the sand. And did he do it because of Islam? I have seen Christianity make monsters out of good people, so yes, absolutely it could have been because of Islam. It does not make me a bigot to realize this. It does not make me a bigot to stand up and shout that religion has been targeting my people and killing them for millennia. Christianity has targeted and murdered gay people specifically because they are gay for centuries upon centuries, and Islam is a stone’s throw (pardon the irony) from Christianity.

I am gay. I told everyone I was gay the moment I understood it to be the truth when I was 12 years old. Believe what I’m telling you, I have seen good and decent people become monsters because of their homophobia. I should be angry at those people, and I should be angry at the gunman.

But I’m just sad. I’m just sad, and exhausted.