Trigger Warning: homophobia, asshole parents
Recently, I wrote about the details of my coming out. It wasn’t easy, and the response from my parents was far from ideal. One thing they didn’t do though-they never kicked me out of the house. They never beat me. They never emotionally abused me. They never disowned me. Their reactions, homophobic though they were, never rose to the level of treating me as if they didn’t love me. Would that that were the case for other LGB people. By now, the Internet is abuzz with the story of Daniel Ashley Pierce, a young gay man who recently came out to his family (and recorded it), only to face the kind of rejection that fills me with sorrow for his plight, and near blinding rage at the homophobia and utter lack of compassion demonstrated by his family. Here is some of what was said by his family:
“You can deny it all you want to,” the woman continues, “but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way,” Daniel’s mother tells him. “It’s a path that you have chosen to choose.”
Daniel, who is 20, talks about his biology and psychology classes. He tells his family he believes that “scientific proof trumps the word of God.”
“You go by all the scientific stuff you want to,” she responds. “I’m going by the word of God.”
The woman then says, “we will not support you any longer.”
“You will need to move out, and find wherever you can to live,” she adds. “Because I will not let people believe that I condone what you do.”
As the exchange heats up, there sounds like a slap, the camera is jarred, and Daniel says, “You’re not going to fucking hit me.”
Someone else says, “Son of a bitch,” and it sounds like a physical altercation is underway.
Daniel is called “a damn queer,” “a disgrace,” and “a little piece of shit.”
Someone, likely a woman, says, “I’ll beat you…”
Religion poisons everything. I believe it was the late Christopher Hitchens who coined that phrase, and it is so true. When you strip away the blind, unthinking, unquestioning obeisance given to religion and religious beliefs…when you look at the effects religious beliefs have on people around the world…that smack in the face should be enough for people to reject religion asap. Religious belief poisons the discourse on the rights of women. Religious belief poisons the treatment of rape victims. Religious belief poisons the attempts to seek justice for the victims of the priestly sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. Religious belief poisons the discourse on gun control in the US. Religious beliefs poison the discourse on corporal punishment as well as capital punishment. I could go on at length, but I’ll add one more: religious beliefs are one of the biggest obstacles to equality for LGB individuals across the planet.
Religious beliefs teach that we’re immoral. They teach that we’re bound for hell. They teach that we’re in defiance of god’s rules. They teach that we’re sinful. They teach that we’re to be killed. They teach that LGB people are no better than thieves, rapists, or murderers. These beliefs can be found in religious texts in many cases. In other cases, they’re beliefs instilled in people by their preachers, pastors, and ministers, regardless of their presence (or lack thereof) in religious texts.
These beliefs lead far too many people to reject us for being LGB. We are still rejected by our families and friends. We are still kicked out of our homes. We still live in fear of our parents or friends finding out and disowning us, or worse, killing us. All for the “crime” of being gay. All because someone’s religious text is interpreted as saying “the gays are icky, immoral, bestiality-loving, child molesters“. I’ve written before that there is no moral component to being LGB, and there isn’t. This isn’t an issue of morality, yet so many people view homosexuality in that light because they’ve been taught that in church. There is no connection between being LGB and bestiality. What intolerant, hate-filled bigots cannot seem to realize is that being LGB is about finding ourselves attracted-physically, psychologically, and emotionally-to people of the same sex. When we seek relationship, we seek consensual relationships with other human beings. When we fight for marriage equality, we’re seeking to marry another consenting adult. We’re not seeking to fuck animals. We’re not trying to molest children. Every. Single. Time. I’ve heard these lies, they’ve been spewed by fundamentalist religious assholes (of the Santorum, Bachmann, Dobson, or Coulter vein), with not a shred of proof to back their assertions up. But when you’re talking about religious beliefs, proof is rarely in the picture. Which is one of my many problems with religious beliefs. People have them, and far too often, they don’t care whether there is evidence to support their belief. All that matters is that this is what their deity believes, and that’s what they have to follow.
The family of Daniel Pierce chose to adhere to the antiquated, barbaric rules of their religious text rather than love their child. They put their affection and love of a fucking book, and an imaginary man in the sky above their own child. I cannot stress how much I despise shit like that, especially since I’m an atheist. I see no saving grace in religion. All the good stuff can be had in secular form. All the bad stuff needs to be consigned to the dustbins of history. I believe that people ought to ditch their religious beliefs and form opinions and beliefs based on the real world. One of the things you’ll find if you pay attention to empirical evidence is that homosexuality is a normal and positive expression of human sexuality (so says the American Psychological Association).
But even IF one is religious, one need not be so narrow minded and bigoted. I know plenty of people who are religious and who love their LGB friends and family. They manage to rationalize their beliefs-and let’s face it, most believers rationalize their beliefs, bc I don’t know a damn person who follows all the tenets of their religious belief system-such that they don’t reject their friends and family if they come out of the closet. They choose to continue loving that person, because to them, that is more important. They choose love. The parents of Daniel, sadly, chose hate and fear. I hope for their sake (and, depending on what he wishes, Daniels’ sake) that they realize at some point in the future how wrong they were and grovel before him and beg forgiveness.
There is a bright spot to Daniel’s story. A lot of people have become aware of it.
posted the video to Reddit. A friend of Daniel’s posted it to YouTube, and Dan Savage posted it on his blog, followed by Joe.My.God. and The New Civil Rights Movement. Soon after other sites, including the Backlot and The Advocate, had published it as well.
As a result, when Daniel’s boyfriend set up a GoFundMe Page, the money came pouring in. As of this writing, more than $90,000 has been donated to Daniel. Despite being kicked out of his home, at least he’ll have money to find a place to live on his own. I don’t know what his feelings on his family are, so I won’t speculate if even that amount of money is worth what he’s endured (my gut says no), but at least it makes things a little less difficult for him.
If you’re the parent of gay, lesbian, or bisexual child, I implore you: don’t kick them out. Do not physically or emotionally abuse them. Being LGB in society is hard enough as it is. We need the love and support that every child should have from their parents. Being LGB is not immoral, I don’t care what your archaic religious text-written at a time before people even had the word ‘sexuality’ (let alone understood its meaning)-has to say. If you’re going to place your religious beliefs above the love for your child, you’re an abominable human being. You’ve utterly failed at being a baseline decent human being.
Please remember, if you are an LGBT child or teen in need of help, the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-RUNAWAY can help you. The Ali Forney Center has a local and national LGBT youth online resource guide. In the Atlanta, Georgia area Lost-n-Found Youth serves LGBT homeless youth. They’re also on Facebook.