Written by Leonard J. Szumiloski; Published in Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, Speaking Out, Nov. 6, 1998
As the father of an adult gay son, my journey from the initial shock of discovery to acceptance of an attribute over which he had no choice has been long, difficult and sometimes painful. On that journey, my eyes have been opened thanks to much prayer, education and God’s help; and my mind has been opened to overcoming my homophobia.
Now I fully understand how easy it is for others to keep such homophobia brewing within them. Such feelings are based on ignorance, not in the derogatory sense but in the true sense of the word – “lack of knowledge and/or experience.” Ignorance breeds fear; fear breeds hatred.
It is especially upsetting that some people say that efforts to eliminate discrimination against gay people are part of the “gay agenda.” The inference is that this “agenda” is immoral and evil. The last time we visited our gay son we asked him to resolve this, to describe this “gay agenda.”
He looked at us rather puzzled, then pulled a slip of paper from his wallet and said, “Well this is my agenda.”
I took it and read: “Buy toothpaste at drugstore; get quart of milk on way home from work; call plumber to fix leaky faucet.” My wife and I laughed, but realized he was really telling us something significant.
“Dad,” he said, “you imply by that question that all gay people are exactly the same, have the same feelings about all issues, the same ‘agenda’ – social, political, and otherwise. That simply is not true. There is as much diversity of ideas, degrees of activism, thoughts about social issues and the like in the gay population as there is in the heterosexual population.”
He said he does have a few gay friends who are social activists, who march in parades, picket and “push the envelope” for what they see as due them. Yet, he has many other friends who stay home and keep busy with their professions and chores. “That’s what makes America so great,” he added. “Each can take whatever role he or she is comfortable with.” Then he said, “Dad, you asked me about the ‘gay agenda.’ Now tell me, what is the ‘heterosexual agenda’?”
What a puzzling question! I had never heard that asked before. Yet if we accuse him of having a “gay agenda,” he has the right to accuse us of having a “heterosexual agenda.”
After thinking, I replied, “There really is not just one heterosexual ‘agenda.’ Different groups of heterosexuals have different agendas, depending on their degree of involvement in various causes. Some march in ‘Right to Life’ marches, some fight to ‘Save the Whales,’ while other friends of mine aren’t concerned about any issues or are just too busy with their daily lives. And frankly, I don’t think I could tell you what my agenda is!”
“I rest my case!” he said.
I was still a bit confused. I pressed him. “But aren’t you, as a gay young man, in favor of gay civil rights?” His answer shocked me.
“No, Dad, I am against gay rights.” Seeing the look on my face, he continued, “But I am also against women’s rights. And I am against African-American rights. What I am for is human rights.
“All human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability – whatever makes them different from you – are entitled to the same and equal protection under the law, under the Constitution, and the same respect and recognition that is theirs by virtue of their being creations of the same God.”
My mouth dropped at such a deep and thoughtful statement. Then I remembered several points:
- It took many years and lots of work for African-Americans to win the rights due them under the Constitution, yet there still is much racism today.
- It took many years and much effort for women to obtain equal rights, yet many women are doing jobs today for salaries below men’s.
- In most states, my son can be fired, even though he may be doing an outstanding job, and he can be denied housing or thrown out of his apartment, without any legal recourse, simple because of his in-born orientation.
- In many states, beatings of gays simply because they are gay are excluded from the so-called “hate crimes” laws, minimizing punishment of the perpetrators.
- Many states have non-discrimination laws, but purposely leave out gays from that protection because it is thought to be “politically correct” to do so.
- At the funeral of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming recently, protesters were seen carrying signs saying, “God hates all gays, so good riddance.”
Imagine the feelings of Shepard’s mother at that funeral! Whose “agenda” is it to teach people who harbor such hatred that God loves us all, that Jesus taught us to “love one another”? Is that such an evil and immoral “agenda”?
Perhaps we have a much longer way to go than we think to have truly human rights for everyone in this country.
No one is asking for special rights, but simply the basic legal and human rights all of us are entitled to. You can add my wife and me, as heterosexuals, to the list of supporters of that “gay agenda.”
Email This Post Print This Post