WHEN I sat down to clarify my personal views on homosexuality for people who may read this blog, I discovered it was a far more complicated task than I had supposed.
To preface these remarks let me say that Proposition 8 has been wrenching for me and my friends and colleagues who are gays and lesbians.The campaign has brought into the public arena private behaviors that I accepted because they were my friends. But now our relationships are at risk because they require a statement of solidarity with self destructive behaviors that I cannot support for society in general.
1. In my youth detailed talk about human intimacy was limited to heterosexual behaviors. During junior high school, if you wore green on Thursdays that meant you were queer and you got pantsed (beltless Levis pulled down around your knees), your books hit out of your hands and scattered all over, hit, or just called queer. My mother told me that queers were men who liked men, and that was the extent of it. For sure I avoided wearing green, but as I look back on the situation I can only imagine the terror felt by fellow students who may have had same-sex attractions or who demonstrated any degree of effeminate behavior and would have been bullied. The subject didn’t resurface until college, when I read about a gay love affair in Another Country, a novel written by James Baldwin. That was the extent to what I knew about homosexuality.
2. In the early 70’s I worked as an addiction counselor at a New York City Methadone Maintenance Clinic and served gay men, lesbians, and transvestites. Some of my coworkers revealed they were actively in homosexual relationships. During the year and a half at the clinic my main concern was helping my gay clients stay alive or out of trouble with the law as they worked through one turbulent love affair after another. After 6 months the clinical supervisor said he was transferring additional gays to my caseload because I cared about them as people, whereas other staff members were less tolerant or refused altogether.
3. About this time at Church my Bishop assigned me to home teach a gay couple. He said that they were getting older and were at greater hazard for risky behaviors during their cruising. He said that my job was to keep them alive, that he would deal with the worthiness aspects of their Church membership. It was a match made in Heaven. We became good friends, and the helping went both ways. They really watched after our new little family. I wrecked their car coming from visiting Judy at the maternity ward, and they just shrugged it off with, “That’s what insurance is for.” They taught me a lot about being a friend.
4. I was the Plans, Ops, and Training Officer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC when the AIDS epidemic hit. I overheard two very senior Army officers say, “Now we’ll get the buggers out of the military once and for all—they’ll just all die of this homosexual epidemic.” I couldn’t believe anyone would feel that way, let alone say it out loud. Ironically, it was the nearby Armed Forces Institute of Pathology that confirmed the relationship between HIV, T-Cells and so many young gay men dying. This discovery would lead to medical research and treatment of AIDS.
5. My main contact with homosexuals has been as coworkers and clients in the helping professions. Oddly enough, it was a closeted gay man that hired me to work for the Boy Scouts of America as a District Executive. Within a month of my hire, he publicly announced his homosexuality and then sued the BSA when they put him on administrative leave with pay. They settled out of court.
6. The U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled that the BSA is a private organization and as such could set its own moral code, that forcing BSA to accept gays would violate its constitutional right to freedom of association. In reaction to that ruling three local organizations teamed up to “marginalize the Boy Scouts of America in our Society, beginning with the Central Coast of California:” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Organization of Women (NOW), and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). These organizations waged war against the Boy Scouts of America:
- a) they publicly denigrated Scouting in the media,
- b) lobbied to legally cut off all governmental recognition and contacts with Scouting, including state, county, city organizations and agencies, and local school systems, and
- 3) discouraged churches, fraternal and service organizations from sponsoring Scouting.
It was a bitter campaign full of ferocity and invective.
7. As a result of this vicious bullying by the bullied I tried to understand what was generating such negative energy against the Boy Scouts. So I renewed a more than 20-year-old acquaintance with A. Dean Byrd, currently president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), and also with Allen E. Bergin, who I first met when he taught at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City before he joined the faculty of Brigham Young University in 1972.
8. In reviewing the scientific literature that these professors provided or referenced, I began to appreciate the terrible, almost driven need for many members of the homosexual community to perceive that their sexual and relational behavior be considered totally normal and accepted. It is more than feeling safe from assault. I recall reading reports that indicated the incidence of suicide among gays and lesbians in European countries, where they enjoy general acceptance, was about as high as in the States. It may be that for many homosexuality is in itself unstable and unsafe and that no level of public acceptance will make it physically or emotionally more stable and safer.
IN SUMMARY, over my lifetime and even now I have enjoyed satisfying friendships and collegial relationships with men and women who have revealed to me that they are practicing homosexuals. I have mourned with them as they worked through terribly difficult relationships incident to their homosexuality. I have worked to help gay and lesbian clients be safe from their self-destructive behaviors. And I hope to continue these personal relationships and service. But this may be more and more challenging if our society continues on its current course to generally bully, politicize, officially normalize, and even promote, personal sexual and relational behaviors that can be so terribly self destructive and harmful to those involved in such relationships, especially for any dependent children.