Now, in the midst of the Christmas holiday season, many LGBT individuals across America and so-called Christian areas of the world find themselves disconnected from any religious aspect of the season. Why? Very simple: through out much of its history - at least since the 1100's - Christianity has been one of the worse tormentors and enemies of LGBT people. Much of this mistreatment of LGBT individuals traces back to the ignorant writings of the Hebrew Old Testament - ignorance which was sadly also picked up by Islam. Add to the poison of a few passages in Leviticus the sick need of many to fell superior to others and to have some target for abuse as "other", and organized religion has been a toxic evil to so many LGBT people throughout history since the rise of Christianity and the dissemination of the message of hate by Christian missionaries. A piece in The Advocate looks at this sad truth. Here are excerpts:
As a gay youth, I attended church like I attempted suicide: half-heartedly, with a lack of conviction, and pretty sure it wasn’t for me. That makes me one of the lucky ones.Growing up in Wilmington, Del., in the 1970s and 1980s, I had no idea how lucky I was to be brought up in a hodge-podge of faith traditions. My parents were raised in different Protestant traditions, but my mother had converted to Catholicism to marry (and shortly divorce) her first husband. They had an ethical and moral basis in the teachings of Christianity, but neither was particularly connected to the trappings of any specific tradition. They were married in the Episcopal Church, the best option for a divorced woman in 1971. Early on, and because of that choice, they were part of a congregation that was less judgmental of difference.
Additionally, since my parents had met onstage in community theatre, they had many friends who were gay and this was the world into which I was born. I went to Sunday school for a few years and went to services on Christmas Eve and on Easter Sunday.
It wasn’t until I came out to them in the late '80s that the subtle insidiousness of church teachings reared its head. Despite having gay friends in the theatre, in their social groups and even in our living room on a regular basis, having a gay son was not an option my mother wanted to consider. I was told I could never bring a boyfriend home, and she openly confessed to worrying what people would think of her. She worried that people would think she was a bad mother and that she’d done something wrong when they found out she had a gay son.
This was not the reaction I expected. Nowhere in her secular life was I given any clue that she would feel any differently about a gay son. Years later, as I reflected on this painful (and thankfully, brief) period, I came to understand that it must have been feelings ingrained by her own religious upbringing.
Like most LGBTQ+ youth, when I started feeling different and out of place (Steven Carrington on Dynasty was the only significant LGBTQ+ character on TV in those days), I was confused. I was depressed. I was anxious. I’d been the subject of bullying for most of my life, . . . . In the absence of other factors and in the presence of other LGBTQ+ people in her social circles leads me to believe that the religion of her upbringing had coded these feelings deep into her subconscious, and that is where religion became an issue for me.
For too many LGBTQ+ teens, though, religion IS the issue. According to data from a 2011 study from the University of Texas at Austin’s Research Consortium , gay and lesbian youth who reported that religion was important to them were 38 percent more likely to have had recent suicidal thoughts. . . . Only 5 percent of the heterosexual youth surveyed had considered suicide.
No person, no matter their sexual or affectional orientation, their gender, their class, their beliefs or their interests should be made to feel inferior, particularly in a community that is meant to provide support and love. Religious bullying, whether direct, or in my mother’s case, subconscious, can serve as one of the most destructive forms of bullying and more has to be done to prevent it.
Religious-based bullying of LGBTQ+ people is insidious. It can lead to isolation, disrespect, and exclusion. According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, nearly 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, and many of them are likely homeless because their families’ faith could not accept them for who they are. Worse, it is killing LGBTQ+ young people.
I have more or less walked away from Christianity in any organized form. Like many of their generation, my children are now "Nones" despite having been raised Catholic, and my grandchildren, thankfully, are being spared from Christian indoctrination and all of the self-hate and judgment of others that it sadly embodies.[W]e have a moral obligation to embrace each other’s differences: true faith doesn’t bully. It is about love and support. I’m proud to have recently joined the team at the Tyler Clementi Foundation, where our “True Faith Doesn’t Bully” campaign is working to provide tailored resources to help faith communities affirm the value of the lives of every single individual, no matter their identity. . . . We all deserve that.