The term “the homosexual lifestyle” has appeared a number of times on this blog in the last few months. I continue to be perplexed every time I see it and hear it in the church or society. Along with all those other terms that are used against the lgbt community, it is a term that somehow carries enormous weight and meaning in our society despite the fact that it really should not be considered a valid term. My problem is that I don’t often hear this term (or other similar language) challenged for what it is — bigotry. I’d really love it if this ridiculous language would stop, both on the blog, and in church and society.
The Homosexual Lifestyle. The Homosexual Agenda. Against Family Values. Against God. Unnatural. I’m sure you can think of some yourself. Wasn’t the same of rhetoric used against other hated people in the past? Jews? Communists? Multiracial couples? Check out this comparison between the Anti-Semitic language and propaganda used by the Nazis and Anti-Gay language and propaganda seen today.
These phrases carry all the fear and stereotypes against lgbt people that no one can quite put into words. Maybe it is because everyone knows those fears and stereotypes don’t reflect reality but they all hold them anyway. Maybe it is because no one wants to admit to the freakish and sick fantasies that straights have of what lgbt people do. Instead, these vague euphemisms are used to insinuate everything that straights hate and fear but are afraid to say about gays. Even more, I wonder if these euphemisms are used to insinuate everything straights hate and fear about themselves but would rather foist on lgbt people? By existing, and being out, and demanding equality, and challenging traditional gender norms, and being unapologetically sexual, lgbt people fly in the face of convention and are somehow enormously threatening. I think it is because we are honest.
So, let me try to deconstruct this term just a little bit.
“The homosexual lifestyle” seems to insinuate dark things like promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, polygamy, gender roles, anal sex, oral sex, kinky sex, desire, immorality, disease, child molestation, perversion, fornication, pathology, subversive elements, and the commoditization of sex and sexuality. You could even throw in self-indulgence, control of the media, wealth and elitism, obsession with style, and butches or femmes if you wanted. I would ask if any or all of these exist as part of “the heterosexual lifestyle?” or maybe even the “the American lifestyle?” These stereotypes no more (and no less) represent the lgbt community than mainstream entertainment media represents the non-lgbt community. I’ll try to not judge you straight folk from what I see on primetime television (Desperate Housewives anyone?) if you try not to judge lgbt people from what you hear from your homophobic families or churches as well as the media.
Maybe I’m wrong and the “homosexual lifestyle” just means gays and lesbians loving eachother and living lives just like all the straights? Why would anyone have a problem with that? That doesn’t seem scary or mysterious enough to me to carry weight it does in society.
As far as the Homosexual Agenda — my only agenda is gaining equal rights in church and society and picking up bread on the way home from work today. So I ask you all to consider the language you hear used against the lgbt community and the language you use. Let’s frame the discussion in ways that are valid and useful without using stereotypes or the coded language of hate and bigotry. Most of what I’ve seen on YAR has been great, let’s take it even further.
In case you need an example of homophobia rearing its ugly head in langauge, propaganda, and politics: Putting The ‘Hate’ In Hate Crimes.