A letter to the editor in the June 17th issue of the Dahlonega Nugget complained of an alleged “LGBT agenda” and that LGBT-people are bullying straight Christians. Such claims are not only untrue, they border dangerously close to hate speech.
There is no single LGBT agenda, despite the right-wing rhetoric. There is a plurality of social and political views in the LGBT, as in any other, community. I’ve been a friend and ally to LGBT people for over two decades and not once have they tried to “convert” me or force any ideas on me.
To claim that LGBT people are bullying anyone erases the struggles of LGBT people to merely survive in our society. Until the 1960’s it was unsafe to be openly gay even in otherwise “progressive” cities. LGBT people in New York had to riot to gain the smallest measure of respect and many in the LGBT community still struggle for respect, acceptance, and safety.
Bullying is still a real threat to the LGBT community. Over 41% of trans and gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide – ten times the average. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people attempt at four times the average. In rural and suburban areas of the country, especially the South, LGBT people continue to keep their sexual or gender orientation secret for fear of attacks. There are LGBT people here in Dahlonega who, from fear for their safety, are unable to live their lives openly. State legislatures across the country have tried to pass laws legalizing discrimination against LGBT people. Teachers across the country have been fired from their jobs for being gay or lesbian. And straight Christians are being bullied?
There’s a difference between being called out for hate speech or bigotry and bullying. No, you don’t have a right to endanger LGBT people, any marginalized groups, in our community. To allow that creates an unsafe climate for our neighbors that we cannot tolerate. We’re still living with the effects of racism, as the recent shooting in Charleston demonstrates. Hate speech provides openings for that sort of behavior. Allowing it to pass unchecked makes us complicit in those actions.
The letter gets one thing right: There are church communities that accept LGBT people. It’s not a matter of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but of loving and supporting our neighbors unconditionally. While right-wing “Christians” push their reactionary ideals on the rest of us, one can only imagine how Jesus, who called on us to love our neighbors as ourselves, would receive LGBT people. For all we know, he did – after all, he surrounded himself with the most marginalized people of his time.
So let’s get real and stop the reactionary rhetoric. Christians aren’t being bullied and, if they don’t accept LGBT people for who they are, they can hardly call themselves Christian. We have a duty to love and protect our neighbors. Hate speech and bullying against anyone who’s different cannot, and will not, be tolerated in our community.