A practicing, believing Mormon I've collaborated with on a couple of projects has posted something on his blog about how, although he doesn't think he's a homophobe because he has been friends with gay people and recently drank decaf with a gay man in his own kitchen, still, he's upset about Brokeback Mountain because
there's something about homosexuality that always makes me think of the Roman empire crumbling and stuff like that. It seems to come to a head pretty late in a civilization's decline, By the time it becomes prominent, I think it's equivalent to the bruises you start to see on a piece of overripe fruit. It represents a new, deeper level of decay.
He acknowledges that there are probably
many individuals for whom homosexuality does not seem like a choice. But I think there are as many or more people for whom homosexuality is an option but not a foregone conclusion (in other words, they're in the middle of that 6-point spectrum used to rank homo vs. hetero). I haven't seen [Brokeback Mountain] yet, but I think depictions like this that get people thinking about homosexuality will cause many to go ahead and explore it, whereas they probably never would've if society kept a better cap on it.
He goes on to conclude that
deep down, I'm alarmed. I see more bruises forming on the fruit. I think we're in trouble. To mix in another metaphor, compared to the heterosexual sexual revolution of the '60s, I think the gay movement is like crack cocaine next to pot, in terms of potential to ruin people's lives and upset the right balance of things. (emphasis added.)
Before discussing this further, I want to say that I'm sure there are many individuals for whom homophobia does not seem like a choice. But I think there are as many or more people for whom homophobia is an option but not a foregone conclusion (in other words, they're in the middle of that 6-point spectrum used to rank homophobia vs. tolerance). Having spent 26 years as a practicing Mormon and seen Mormon homophobia in action up close, I think the post by this guy is a perfect example of how religious doctrine that justifies homophobia will cause many people to go ahead and explore it, whereas they probably never would've if society kept a better cap on it.
The author of the post I quote here, for instance, probably started out as a two or a three--more tolerant than not. But years of indoctrination into the Mormon church have helped him become an advocate of one of the most dangerous threats to all humanity: ignorant intolerance dressed in the guise of righteous religion.
Reading the post upset me profoundly, because this is someone I work with, and not only is his message homophobic and bigoted, his logic sucks: he feels justified in announcing his conviction that the gay movement is extreme in its "potential to ruin people's lives and upset the right balance of things"; he expresses openly his dire fears and grievous worries that acceptance of homosexuality will hasten some sort of dangerous, dreadful moral decay--but he rejects the label of homophobe! And this despite the fact that homophobia means "an irrational fear of homosexuality and homosexuals." Given that he proclaims his uh, righteous fears of homosexuality's threat to virtuous, upstanding society, given how overwrought, paranoid and hyperbolic his fears are (what the hell is he doing invoking the fall of the Roman empire? I thought that had to do with putting an emperor in charge of the government, and with the fact that the Goths sacked the capital.... Then there's the fact that the Greeks accepted homosexuality, and they are, after all, the basis for what we in the Western world call civilization), he seems to fit the definition of a homophobe to a rigid, straight H--OK, he's not a virulent, rampaging homophobe, just a mild, meandering one, looking for rotten fruit in the garden of life, blaming the rot on others--god forbid he consider the possibility that HE and his beliefs are responsible for such things.
How can he fail to see that he is a homophobe? Why is he willing to embrace thoroughly homophobic attitudes, but not the label that goes with them? (I do wonder why people are afraid of being labeled a bigot, but not of actually being one. I also wonder why they aren't afraid to reveal such thoroughly inadequate thinking, so that they end up seeming not only bigoted, but unable to follow clear reason.)
I also found the post profoundly ironic, because one of the projects I worked with him on was The Sugar Beet, a website of Mormon satire modeled on The Onion. And when I wrote for the Sugar Beet, I got in a little trouble for a piece I produced to assuage some of the grief and shame I felt when I learned that Aaron McKinney, one of Matthew Shepard's murderers, had grown up Mormon and received officially sanctioned visits from representatives of the Mormon church up until his conviction--at which time the visits ceased and he got excommunicated, because you can't be a convicted felon and a practicing Mormon, any more than you can be an uncloseted homosexual and a practicing Mormon.
I've had people tell me--make that, I've had Mormons tells me--in all seriousness, that homosexuality is a sin akin to murder--and the treatment McKinney received pretty much demonstrates that, at least in the view of the Mormon church, that's true.
And omigod, it's not attitudes like that that will cause the end of civilization! It's not bigotry and greed and vicious illegal wars and wanton devastation of the environment that will destroy the United States--no, it's the fact that there are people in this country who think it's OK to choose a same-sex relationship.
Good god, that is so FUCKED UP.
I'll post the story from the Sugar Beet tomorrow.