An Open Letter to My Non-ally Brothers and Sisters

open-letterGuys and gals,

Look, I know the open letter thing is a huge cliché that has been run into the ground, but I can’t think of another way to get this message to you. A couple of days ago, UCC pastor and author Kimberly Knight posted on her blog at Patheos a piece titled “12 steps to becoming an LGBT ally in 2013“. It’s a really good article and I hope you’ll read it. Maybe you’ll decide this ally is something you can get on board with. Probably not, but a fellow can dream, can’t he? Whether you decide to become an ally or not, there are few things you could do in the meantime that would make the situation a little more tolerable for all of us. Here they are:

  1. It’s okay to disagree. I don’t think any rational thinking person expects everyone to agree with everything they say and do. So, fine, disagree all you want. But…,
  2. If you can’t voice that disagreement without being a colossal asshat, shut up. You may be wondering “But, Joel, how do I know when I’m being a ‘colossal asshat’? I’d say it’s when you call LGBTQ folks an abomination, refer to them  as disgusting, tell them they will burn in Hell for loving someone or that God hates them. A good rule of thumb is something my mother told me when I was growing up:  “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”.
  3. Not being allowed to be a colossal asshat isn’t the same thing as persecution or a violation of your rights. We’re hearing a lot from you guys how Christians are being persecuted, you freedom of speech is under threat, etc. when someone calls you out some hateful speech. Here’s a hint: not being allowed to bully someone isn’t the same as being bullied. As for the freedom of speech thing, well, the 1st Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech“. It doesn’t apply to individuals and even if it did, it protects your freedom to say what you feel. It does not protect you from the repercussions of that speech.
  4. Don’t use someone’s sexuality as a descriptor unless the conversation is about sexuality. When you do this, whether you mean it or not, what is implied is “my sexuality is normal and yours is somehow…, not? If we can’t point that out at every possible opportunity, how are supposed to marginalize you and maintain our place of power and privilege?” Kinda goes along with that colossal asshat thing.
  5. It’s not coming from a place of love, no matter what you think. For some reason, some people seem to think they can preface any hateful statement by affirming their love for the person/people the statement is about and, thereby eliminate the hatefulness of that statement. Kind of like the whole “Bless your heart” thing we southerners do (btw, whispering works too). I’m guessing you’ve never really looked at what you’re saying because you’re good people who mean well. But, here’s the thing, there’s not a lot of love in “you’re going to burn in hell for this disgusting, sinful, perverted lifestyle you’ve chosen” no matter what you say beforehand.
  6. Remember the Golden Rule. I don’t know about you, but, as a child in the south of the 1960’s, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was hammered into me in every facet of life: home, church and school. Hell, I even heard it playing with my friends, albeit usually to help someone gain an advantage. But those 7 little words can make a huge difference in the lives of those around you.  You wouldn’t like someone laying into you for eating shrimp because of some passage of scripture in the Old Testament, would you? Then, don’t do the same to your LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Simple as that.

I really hope you’ll read this and take it heart because, and understand that I’m saying this with all the love in my heart, I’m tired of you guys being gigantic assholes and treating people I care about like total shit. Please stop.