2. The gulf factor
Born in 1951, I grew up in
a generation when racial slurs and sexist jokes and poking fun at people with
disabilities were commonplace and
accepted. No longer would anyone dare say something like "A
woman's place in the home" Imagine the outcry, because we know
these things are completely inappropriate in this day. But once, it was the
common belief. A racial slur can get you sent off the playing field or straight
to the Human Resources manager. It is not tolerated in a civilized society,
workplace of sporting arena. Our society says you can't discriminate and there
are laws to penalize you if you do. We are a better and fairer society for
dismantling prejudice and bigotry and creating equality.
In western countries such
as the UK, Australia and the US there was a time when societies and the
churches belief that homosexuality was a sickness, crime, abomination, perversion
etc was aligned. So negative was the
view of same-sex-orientation they originally hung gay men but later
incarcerated or tried to "cure" them with cruel "treatments'
such as lobotomies and electric shocks. Some of you will remember this from
the 50's and 60's. This belief and treatment was born out of nothing more than
Growing up in the 50's and
60's no one was out. To reveal your true identity meant imprisonment, loss of
jobs, rejection by family and friends. Very feminine gay men and masculine
lesbians had difficulty hiding their identity (this left-over stereotype still
exists today). People had their suspicions or would secretly gossip that he is
"one of those" or "a
friend of Dorothy's". Others were able to hide behind the facade of
a heterosexual marriage with an unsuspecting spouse or they chose a lavender
That began to change,
thanks scientific research and the American Psychiatric
Association (followed by other mental health professional organisations)
removing homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973. Society's
attitudes began to change as more people felt brave enough to come out. This
was still a perilous act though with the possibility of public humiliation,
loss of jobs, promotions, rejection by families as I've mentioned. We owe a lot
to those brave early pioneers who took risks we could never comprehend. So when you hear of Gay Pride, remember, it
was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay. It evolved out of our
struggle as human beings to break free of oppression and to exist without being
criminalized, pathologized or persecuted for being who we are. Don't be
mystified by the term and wonder why there is no such thing as a "straight pride", be grateful you
never needed one.
Coming out of the closet,
being open and honest created a visibility. Without that, preconceived notions,
misconceptions, ignorance and stereotypes could never have been broken down in
the minds of average citizens.
Eventually laws changed as
well so that these days only a small minority of people view same gender loving
people as sick, immoral or evil. The US is a good example. With its highly religious influences, in
1973, 70% of Americans felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987
(most likely due to religious political campaigning) that rose to 75%. By 2000,
it had dropped to 54% and finally bumped over the 50% in favour milestone only a
few years ago (2007). By 2010 it was
down to 43.% against.. .....and will continue to drop as people see that
marriage equality hasn't produced hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes or the
slippery slope theories of sensationalist, fear-mongering religious
conservatives have not become reality. .
The breakdown of the
Public Religion Research Institute's research is even more revealing. Among
self-described Evangelicals, the millennials (18 to mid-30s) showed the highest
level of support for same-sex-marriage at 43 percent (though the poll only
included white Evangelicals), compared to 33 percent for generation X, 22 percent
for Baby Boomers and 19 percent for those 68 and older. The church leaders of
tomorrow have it all worked out and those maintaining negative attitudes
towards LGBT people are a dying breed.
Whilst the rest of society
moved on Churches and ex-gay organisations like Exodus fought to maintain an
outdated mindset under the guise of maintaining Christian "values' and
biblical principles. They became locked
in a time warp re sexual and gender identity.
gulf between conservative Christians and the rest of society is so wide now
they are in the minority and their views considered extreme. Not only do
they have gay and lesbian people opposing them (who are a minority) but also
their family, friends and an increasing number of progressive churches.
It's interesting to note
that now in the volatile space of the homosexuality/Christianity
"debate" certain Christian groups are crying they are being persecuted. There is a universal law that Jesus
spoke of, which says "what you sow
you reap". Possibly the conservative Christians are now getting a
taste of what they have dished out to LGBT people and their community for
Come on church.....you have forty years to catch up on. You can't bury your head in the sand any longer
hoping it will not go away. It
won't. Soon you will have gay and lesbian couples coming through your doors
that are legally married and have children. Will you turn them away as you once
did people of colour or those who'd been divorced?.
According to the majority
of western society, the view that homosexuality is a sin and that our loving
committed relationships are flawed, unnatural, sick, broken is outdated,
offensive and extreme. When tired, hackneyed clichés like "love the sinner – hate the
sin", or "God made Adam and Eve – not Adam and
Steve" are used, expect a backlash. When you say hurtful, cruel and untrue things
about LGBT people, the community or our relationships, you can no longer cry
'freedom of speech" and you lose all credibility as a representative of
God - a God of Love. Times have changed.
This gulf put Exodus on
the side of extremism.
If you would like to
receive a PDF of the complete article click on this email address firstname.lastname@example.org and hit send.
Or read the 8 Factors that Created the Tipping Point separately.
No.1 The Society Shift Factor No.2 The Gulf Factor
No.3 The Internet Factor
No.4 The Honesty Factor
No.5 The Bridge Building Factor
No.6 The Listening Factor
No.7 The Evolving Faith Factor
No.8 The Midlife Factor
© Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
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