Thursday, June 26, 2014


The term "homophobia" gets tossed around an awful lot, and many instances don't make any sense.  This causes some people to reject the concept, since it is not  used consistently.  So, I thought I'd give some examples of what I believe to be homophobia, and examples of what is not.

1.  If someone believes that homosexual infidelity is somehow worse than heterosexual infidelity, then that is indeed homophobia.  For example, if a man cheating on his wife cheats with another man, is that worse than if he cheats with another woman?  I would consider those who believe so to be homophobic.

2.  If someone believes that homosexuality is a choice, and people need to choose to not be gay, then that is ignorance, not homophobia.  Sure, ignorance can lead to homophobia (and be fostered by it), but this belief by itself is simply a lack of knowledge of the truth.

3.  When a young man is so afraid of appearing gay that he always makes comments to support his masculinity, and avoids any physical contact with other males (or constantly says "no homo" when such contact occurs), then that is homophobia.  This can be particularly acute when the young man in question is, himself, attracted to other guys, but trying to hide it (perhaps hoping that his orientation will change).

4.  When someone fails to support or vote for a law legalizing gay marriage, that does not make them homophobic.  Such voting could be caused by homophobia, and often is; but by itself, being politically or religiously against gay marriage is not enough information to determine if the person is homophobic.

A final note: in my view, homophobia is different from bigotry, and they are both different from bias.  Everyone has biases.  That doesn't make them bigots.  Homophobia is a state of irrational fear of homosexuality.  Bigotry is showing unkindness to others because of they belong to some particular group.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Open Mindedness

One of the things that has always bothered me is the concept of open mindedness.  In most instances, it's use is equivalent to "you should be open to my opinion."  There is a ton of open mindedness in the world, but mostly it is shown by children.  They are open to all kinds of ideas.  As we become teenagers, we recognize how gullible we were, and reject all open mindedness and become very obstinate.  We close our minds and assume we finally really understand things.  After that, we usually open up a little and eventually settle down with some very fixed beliefs.  Those beliefs are then very resistant to change.  We feel that we have had to be open minded to reach our beliefs, and others who don't believe them just haven't been open minded enough to get there yet.  This makes discussion very difficult.

I find that there are a lot of people who believe that orientation is somehow a choice, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  No amount of argument or logic will change that opinion, in most cases.  Similarly, I've seen people believe that anyone who opposes gay marriage legalization is a hardened bigot.  Neither side shows the least bit of open mindedness.  In order to be open minded, what is required is humility, respect, and charity for others.  When these are not present, an open mind is hard to come by, and real discussion is almost impossible.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


As a child, I always tended toward intellectual pursuits.  I loved learning, and so loved school.  I was not very good at homework and tasks, but did very well when taking tests.  When in Jr. High, I had a friend with whom I would philosophize and debate.  He was particularly muscular and well built, but my feelings for him were purely platonic.  I only tended to get romantic feelings for guys I didn't know well.

Anyway, this friend told me once that he had read that the smarter someone was, the more likely they were to be homosexual.  I knew that we both considered ourselves quite intelligent, and was wondering if he was trying to come on to me.  I didn't really give a response to him and he never brought it up again.  I never thought of him as more than a friend, but have always been curious as to his meaning.  It's possible that he figured out my orientation, and was letting me know that it was okay.  But I never figured it out.

Since that time, I have never heard such a statistic relating intelligence and orientation.  Has anyone else heard such a thing?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Choosing Against Our Natures

I consider my orientation to be a part of my makeup.  I didn't choose it.  It's part of the fabric from which I am made.  However, as a member of the church, I don't have romantic relationships with other men.  Some people may question if it is wrong to ask someone to choose against their nature?  I contend that civilization is precisely that: asking people to choose against their natures.  For example, if you are hungry, you naturally want to eat the food available.  However, if you are civilized, you wait for the proper time to eat, you share food with others, you avoid foods that break with your moral code (vegans, for example), you control your diet for health reasons, etc.

I know people who are very competitive, so much so that it becomes hard to communicate with them some of the time.  These kinds of people often make excellent athletes or businessmen.  But to be civilized, they have to learn to compete within the rules.  That takes self control -- in particular, control to reign in their own natures and comply with society's laws and norms.

Some people may be better at this than others.  But all of us defy our own natures to exist in society.  There's an excellent article about the meaning of "free agency" that examines the evolutionary advantages that free will gives people.  In particular, the author claims: 
If you think of freedom as being able to do whatever you want, with no rules, you might be surprised to hear that free will is for following rules. Doing whatever you want is fully within the capability of any animal in the forest. Free will is for a far more advanced way of acting. It’s what a creature might need in order to adjust its behavior to novel situations, to get what it wants while still following the complicated rules of the society.  People must inhibit impulses and desires and find ways of satisfying them within the rules.
What makes free will powerful is the ability to follow commandments, despite the desire to break them.  I had a teacher once point out to me that free-form poetry's lack of rules makes it all sound rather similar, despite its more liberated nature.  A poet writing sonnets, however, must follow strict rules of rhyme and meter, and being expressed within that structure, the poems are more powerful and more distinct from others.  Similarly, our lives can be more powerful when we work within the rules, follow the commandments.

It is not some foreign idea to me that I should have to make choices against my natural instincts.  It is part of what makes me civilized.  It may seem harder for a gay-oriented person like me to find happiness and satisfaction within the structure of the Church, but it's harder to express ideas within the structure of a sonnet, too.  However, the poem and my happiness become more beautiful and powerful when we work within those rules.