Responding to a homophobic "letter to the editor"
(This is in response to: http://abcnewspapers.com/index.php?o...1182&Itemid=95)
To the Editor:
Today was my first time to read the Anoka County Union after my fiancÚ & I moved to Oak Grove in November. I read Gene Hodel's letter to the editor titled, "Homosexual Lifestyles," and I would like to respond.
Gene, thank you for saying what a lot of people in the area are thinking. I really acknowledge you for your commitment to have all people be healthy, happy & responsible citizens. I have some good news for you. Gay people are actually doing much better than you've been told.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
HIV negative gay men actually live longer than HIV negative straight men, usually due to the benefits of being more highly educated and thus earning higher incomes. The drive to be successful is typically very strong among gay young people because they often come from spiritually & emotionally violent homes and fear being kicked out and cut off from their families & churches upon discovery of their sexual orientation. Being educated & successful has meant being safe. And, studies show people with more education often take better care of their bodies and their health than do people with less education. If you're interested in helping people live longer, I would suggest working to improve the quality of public K-12 schools, improving the outreach to minority and at-risk students, making schools discrimination-free & bully-free, working to end poverty and finally improving access to higher education.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
You do know that HIV/AIDS is by far a bigger problem for heterosexuals, right? Though young people, gay & straight, are lately being less concerned about safe sex because HIV is being treated so well that HIV positive individuals often live long, fulfilled lives. If you'd like to help, safe sex education is key. Young people, gay & straight, need to be crystal clear about the risks of unsafe sex. My friend, Justin, became very depressed because after being diagnosed with HIV, he developed some kind of infection that caused him to go blind in one eye. Instead of getting help, he turned to alcohol. He died of HIV/AIDS-related liver problems at the age of 28. This kind of thing doesn't need to happen.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
In your letter you wrote about your concern for youth. I too have this same concern. I have been called to the Emergency Room several times because LGBT youth have made an attempt at taking their own lives. Their families shunned them. They were bullied in school. Their churches taught them that who they were was wrong and that God couldn't love them. One young man knew he couldn't "not" be gay and he felt he should die instead of be gay and "break God's heart." Those anti-gay words from the pulpit are spiritual violence and the aftermath is devastating. Parents lose children. Marriages end. Young people are emotionally and spiritually abused. Preachers begin using fear and hate to control congregations. Politicians use lies to gain power. People turn their backs on the suffering of their neighbors. All in the name of a loving God and creating a "good" society. It's kind of odd that those same churches are complaining about drops in membership and people's ambivalence towards spirituality. We've basically bankrupted God's name.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
There's lots of work to do, Gene. You could work with an organization like Soulforce.org, which specifically works with churches & religious schools about stopping spiritual violence. You could volunteer with Avenues, a youth homeless shelter in Minneapolis that has a really great host home program for LGBT homeless young people. You could support the Anoka-Hennepin Gay Equity Team, which is working to make schools safer for LGBT kids. You could give your time to a hospice and assist people who are dying of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. You could be a part of developing the new Anoka County Committee on Equality, Justice & Community, which is working to connect people and organizations who are working for all different areas of social justice in Anoka County. You could join the new Anoka-Area chapter of Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays. You could help elect Tarryl Clark so we can have dignity and fairness representing us instead of craziness and bigotry.
I'm doing several of those things and I'm working with my church in creating a young adult ministry that reaches LGBT young people here and around the world and lets them know that God adores them just as they are.
This is a new day, Gene. I hope you'll rise to the occasion. Oh, and I'd be honored if you'd come to my wedding. Doug & I would love to meet you.
Now developing the Anoka County Committee on Equality, Justice & Community
I am committed to a world that works for everyone and no one or nothing is left out.