My understanding of my personal sexuality (Kinsey-six gay) and my personal religion (none: strong agnostic/atheist) was on a parallel track, and has its. . .I want to say Genesis, but really I think crux is better. . .at about 14 years of age. I knew I was different at a very, very early age. I knew that the term "sissy" was bad, and had the internal realization that it simultaneously applied to me, and that I needed to do all I could to hide that fact. This is at four to five years old, you understand. No frills, no lace, no ruffles, no dollies. And truth be told--other than the Easy Bake Oven and other such gadgets--I was cool with that. I liked trucks and Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.
|Jimminy Cricket seems oddly appropriate here.|
But, I also wanted a boyfriend in kindergarten. I was strangely intrigued by a kid named Jay, who in kindergarten, got confused about propriety, and came out of the in-classroom restroom with his butt showing. I wanted my one-year younger brother's classmate Rhett to notice me (in second grade!). When playing with my brother and my same-aged friend as a threesome, I was the "housewife." While I didn't identify or want to be a female, I was different. This shit dates back to the beginning.
Complicating matters for me, was the fact that I and my siblings had an interloper in our midst, a family member who inappropriately insinuated their self. One of the things that is problematic about sexual molestation for the survivors is that people lay a whole psychological profile upon them. For future reference, lay off of them. The fact that a person has been molested is not a reflection upon their identity.
What do I mean by that? Only that my siblings are heterosexual. I'm homosexual, no ifs-ands-or-buts. and it has zero, and I mean zero to do with what happened back at the 12-14 age range. In fact, that shit made it tougher to come out, because I knew that once I was public, some people would draw those conclusions. My realization at fourteen that I was gay was a culmination of facts in evidence from my earliest recollections. The unwanted attentions of a relative were a confirmation of that, not the instigator of it.
Anyway, all of this came to light at almost the exact same time that I was sussing out my opinions on religion. We'd been raised nominally Christian, with Easter, Christmas and the rest, but only lightly. There was a little church, Mom read to us from Golden Book-style kid's bibles. But it wasn't drilled into us. The emphasis on God and Jesus was about the same as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. When the latter three were revealed to be frauds, God and Jesus were left defenseless. They were never disavowed, but the writing was on the wall.
Due to an afore-mentioned best friend/not-so-secret crush, I was attending confirmation classes in a teenaged Sunday school at a local Lutheran church. The church was warm and welcoming, the fellowship strong and the donuts yummy. But ultimately, I had to back out. I was learning Freshman Earth Science simultaneously, and it quite simply cancelled out the church stuff I was learning. At the age of 15, I was internally a gay atheist. It would be many, many years before I shared that fact with anybody.
So, the point of this post is to point out some obvious facts about The Gay Thing and The Religion Thing as it pertains to atheists. And in no particular order, they are:
- Don't trust Christians to tell you what an atheist is, or believes.
- Don't trust a homophobe to tell you what a gay person is, or believes.
- Gay people do not "recruit." Heterosexual parents make plenty of gay people unassisted. There is no need to "recruit."
- Molestation doesn't "make" a person gay, though it can complicate the process of discovery. The simple fact is, far too many kids are molested. The outcome is never pretty, but it doesn't cause "conversion."
- Atheists do not belligerently reject a god they believe in. They quite simply don't believe in the first place.
- Similarly, atheists don't "hate" God or religion. They simply don't believe in it.
- Gays and atheists do not--broadly speaking--have monolitic beliefs. They're individuals. They're like people, that way.
- There is no unified "gay agenda." In fact, the super-right-wing's idea of a gay agenda is far more developed than any real gay agenda.
- The "gay lifestyle" is a term with its roots in 1970s personal ads in "legitimate" newspapers. they needed a euphemism, and that is what we've been saddled with.
- "Ex-gay" people were either never gay to begin with, are bisexuals suppressing their "gay" sides, or gay people in denial. Period. I've met too many "ex-ex-gays" to believe otherwise.
I don't claim to have all the answers. But I can say--as a gay atheist--that I'm not unhappy with my life or my decisions. I believe this is the life you get, and there are no others. I believe there is no "higher authority," or "higher purpose." I think we're on this plane, and we're in this world. We must live life to its fullest, because it's the only life we've got. And we should live life respecting all others' lives and rights and freedoms as we respect our own.
That's pretty simple. It doesn't require God. It doesn't require anything but reason and logic. And this post is terribly inadequate to its task. As a gay atheist I will cop to the fact that I can't speak for all of us, and implore the reader to understand that no one can. No single individual should be allowed to speak for an entire group.