My rather lengthy response to Linda Harvey, sent through the Mission:America website.
** PERSONAL FOR LINDA HARVEY **
Dear Ms. Harvey,
I’m sure you are being beseiged with letters and e-mails in response to your article on Worldnetdaily, which has been making its way around the Internet with a great deal of speed today. I hope you will be willing to read one more response.
First, let me say that by calling your group “Mission America,” you are implying that all Americans share your organizations views. With all due respect, we do not. Americans are of tremendously varying opinion, and even on one topic there are hundreds of positions. We do not live in an all-or-nothing, black-or-white world where people are either “for” or “against” an issue with no wiggle room in between.
I write to you not on behalf of any organization or group, only as one person — one person who is very hurt and saddened at your words.
Let me briefly tell you my story: My mother and father both were first-generation Americans, and they both struggled tremendously to get themselves educated and become professionals. My mother became a teacher, my father an executive with a well-known company. When I was born in 1966, my parents already had one child, my sister, and were remarkably conservative, devout people who attended church regularly, did not drink or smoke, and were the most attentive and giving parents you could imagine. My father was always there for his family and for each of his children. They instilled very traditional American values in each of us, and we grew up with the understanding and acceptance that our role was to be good children, to learn, to go to college, get a good job, get married and have children.
Strangely enough, though, I knew from the first moment I can remember that I would never be able to accomplish those last two things. Oh, I longed to do so — because that was my duty.
But I was born gay. I know that fact with as much conviction, determination, faith, belief and acceptance as you know that you were born straight.
I would certainly never, ever have “chosen” to be gay. I am not ashamed of it, but I also know that growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, being “not gay” would have meant not being taunted by other boys, teased by girls, and afraid to tell anyone how I felt. I knew there were other boys in my school who were like me, but when it came time for school dances and “date nights,” I stayed home — there was no possible way I could ever acknowledge who I was.
I’m not sure that anyone who is not gay can understand what it is like to be 11 years old and living with a secret you can never tell anyone. I don’t know that you can relate to the idea that I could not have a “normal” experience in high school because I could not date, show romantic interest in anyone or learn inter-personal relationships like the rest of my friends. The secret I carried with me was one that no one, not even my family, would understand.
Everyone around me ridiculed gay people and said that they were “bad.” I did not want to be bad! But I also had the deep-seated, immovable knowledge of who I was — a knowledge that only an individual can have.
As I moved into college, still determined to prove to the world that I could be who “they” wanted me to be, I began to date women. I tried to be like my friends. At the same time, I was finding illicit outlets for the same sexual energy that they were able to act upon openly and freely.
Every time I would have one of these encounters, I would be more and more ashamed of myself as a person, more and more convinced that I could never be who I was “supposed” to be.
Through it all, there was never any doubt in my mind of who I was, of what God had made me to be. Finally, one day — far too long in the coming — I realized that I was proud of myself as a human being, proud of my accomplishments and that talents that God had bestowed upon me. The only way I could truly let those talents shine was to allow people to know me, to know the secret that I was carrying.
I told my family first, and they were scared. My mother prayed and went to church, my father became introspective. Finally, my mother called me one day to say that the priest had told the congregation that homosexuality was a sin and that God did not make homosexuals. Of course, what that meant to her was that her own son was a sin and that God did not make me — something she knew to be wholly untrue. On that day, the animosity and intolerance she heard was the undoing of 50 years of faithful churchgoing, and from that moment she had strong doubts about the church’s place in her life.
My father, too, began to realize that the world was telling him that his own son was an aberrance, that his offspring was somehow less of a person than anyone else. He also knew that not to be true.
Today, I am a successful professional with a responsible position in a large company. Everyone I work with knows who I am. We talk about our lives openly; they share their stories of home life, I share mine. We respect each other and learn from each other.
When I read your column today, I wondered if you intended your words to sow seeds of hate and intolerance. I don’t believe you did — if only because I know that God’s Word is that we all have love and respect for each other and that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I don’t believe you would want someone calling you a mistake because you were born a woman, or with a certain color eyes or hair, or taller or shorter than others.
God has made us all different, and history has put is in a country that was founded upon differences. Our Founding Fathers arrived on our shores because they were persecuted for their beliefs and their opinions about the way they were being treated. We were founded, in many ways, as a nation of outcasts — which is why we spent the first 200 years welcoming those who were different, growing to accept diversity and realizing that a “melting pot” was truly that, a place where all people were embraced and came together to form a new type of community.
I value and endorse your right to voice your opinion — I believe in that right so ardently that it is one of the things for which I truly would lay down my life. You have the right to speak your mind and say what you feel.
So do I. So does everyone else.
This is not a war. We should be finding ways to live together, to come together, to understand that there is no “right” and “wrong” … there just IS.
On an individual basis, I can assure you I have no “agenda.” I want only to be able to live peacefully with people who hold differing views, and to be able to talk with them and understand why they believe what they do. I certainly don’t believe that a Christian, a black person, a green-eyed person, a Muslim or a vegetarian is less a person than myself.
In fact, there is only one group I believe truly is inferior: The intolerant. Intolerance forces people to keep secrets, to be less than their full selves. In an adult, that can be difficult. In a child, it is devastating.
We should all be who God made us.