Closted Beliefs

Bloggified by Jake on Friday, February 26, 2010

"When exactly did you realize you were gay?"

When my friend Dan came out of the closet several years ago, I was able to ask him the question that I found most interesting about his sexuality. I remember first recognizing that I was attracted to a girl in kindergarten. I still vividly remember seeing naked breasts when John Belushi climbed that ladder in Animal House at the age of eight and thinking, "Yes, this is something I enjoy and would like to see more of." I first saw a Playboy in February 1982 and first got caught by my mother while reading a Playboy in March 1982.

There was never any question for me whether I was straight or gay, and I wondered whether it was as simple a realization for Dan, and, if it was, why did he wait until his late-20's to tell all of us? Considering many of us had our suspicions for several years leading up to his ultimately coming out, I wasn't sure if he'd waited our of fear of rejection and disapproval or out of indecision.

"I guess I realized I was gay kind of the same way I realized I was an atheist," he explained. His analogy noted the similarities between his Catholic upbringing and the social moires of heterosexuality. "When you're a kid, everyone tells you there's a god and you believe in him because you just assume everything your parents say must be true. Then I reached a point where I was going to church, but was thinking, 'I don't know that I really believe this.' Then I was agnostic for a while, but then reached a point where I wondered why. I didn't believe in God or Jesus or any of the pillars of Christianity, but there was a part of me still clinging to the idea that maybe my parents were right." Just as he realized he didn't believe in Catholicism and eventually that he wasn't agnostic, Dan also realized he didn't conform to the boy-girl dynamic he'd been told was correct his entire life, and, furthermore, he wasn't bisexual or "just curious." He was gay.

The act of coming out has been one of the most powerful tools in the fight for gay rights. The simple act of telling those around you that gays aren't "those people," but that they are our friends and family members. They are people we loved before they revealed they were gay and and that revelation should in no way affect our love. When I think of any issue affecting gays, it's impossible for me to think of "gays" as a faceless mass of "them." Anyone who wants to deny the rights of gays to visit their partners in the hospital wants to deny those rights to Dan... and to Jarvis and Derrick and Tim and Scharia and several other gay people I know and fully fleshed out human beings and not just one-dimensional caricatures based solely upon their sexual preference.

The more gays who come out, the greater the tolerance for homosexuality increases. The reason support for gay rights is highest in places like New York, New England, and the West Coast is not simply a reflection of liberal leanings in those regions, but of the fact that gays are more open in those areas and are seen as real people instead of as just a bunch of fuckin' faggots as they so often are by guys who have never met an actual live homosexual because they live in and have never had any desire to get out of places like Wewahitchka, Florida.

Surveys have shown that atheists are the most distrusted minority in the United States. The typical American would rather have his daughter marry blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, even gays before she marries an atheist. Yet at the same time, trends are showing fewer people attend church or claim any particular religious belief. The term "spiritual but not religious" gets thrown about fairly easily. With each generation, religious devotion drops. In other words, with each generation, more and more people realize, like Dan, that maybe their parents were wrong.

But if there are potentially more atheists than at any time in the past several decades, why are atheists still so hated? Because too many atheists are afraid to admit their lack of belief.

Just as coming out has been so powerful in the advancement of gay rights, it can do the same for atheists. I make no attempts to hide my feelings about religion, and I know several other atheists who are the same way. Letting your friends and family know that you are living a moral life without the guidance of a mythological overlord or a millennia old book puts a face to godless America. Those who care about you can come to the realization that atheists can't just be dismissed as irrational father-haters who've been deceived by Satan into giving into peer pressure to not believe in God. Most importantly, coming out may help those non-believers around you who are not brave enough to do so themselves yet to find that strength.

Certainly there are those who will not accept, but that is not the fault of the atheist. I have a friend who routinely insists on posting comments on Facebook telling me she'll pray for me or that god exists in the hope that some morning I will wake up and realize I do believe afterall, as though this was just some silly phase.

I can only wonder if she'd tell Dan that she's hopes he'll find the perfect girl.

2 sarcastic replies:

David Anaxagoras said...

I was born an atheist. That's just the way God made me.

ryan cody said...

I think religion and sexuality are personal decisions and don't need to be shouted from the rooftops. I don't go around screaming I am an atheist and I love pussy. So I don't want to have openly flaming homosexuals or crazed preachy types bugging me. What happened to personal beliefs? I think more people are about showing everyone who and what they are instead of just being.

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