Timothy Benton | Jan 9, 2019 | 0
LGBT: A Personal Story of Growth and Understanding
I know that many in the conservative or even moderate people don’t like to deal with this subject, it brings anxiety and uncomfortable feelings, but sometimes we need to confront the discomfort we feel, look at the reasons for it, and see if a change is required. I understand that this is not a subject about the LBGT community is written about in conservative circles, this could be why I decided to write on it.
I have over the last couple of years watched people struggle over the question of homosexuality, how do you deal with it, along with this the question of where is acceptance compromising one’s own belief or identity. You seem to have two sides of the spectrum with many deciding to more meet in the middle; I am not sure if either side of this is correct, well other then maybe the extreme sides are incorrect, but we will speak on this later. Being one that is never afraid to take on any subject, I figured now is as good of a time to tackle this.
If I think of this, I think one, as a rule, one has to look over the perception of this subject starting when we were younger, how our understanding and opinions have changed, and for that part, how America’s and the worlds have changed as well. Being a child of the sixties, I would love to say that all was free and open, and towards heterosexuality it was, sure was not the same perception towards homosexuality, it was still very much a taboo. It wasn’t something you would get lynched for as they would have in the 1700’s or 1800’s, but it would have made you a pariah, most likely experience pressure to move, change your job along with a loss of friends, it just was not something you could practice openly.
In the seventies it did not change much, well unless you lived in a more modern city, even then it was not something you could openly practice, people wouldn’t have been tolerant of such things with the exception of a few very tightly held circles. Since this is the time I remember well, that and the 80’s, I know people would have whispered behind your back, while they would not have treated you the same as in the 50’s or even 60’s, they sure would not have wanted you or your friends living next door.
I’m not sure if things were much different in the 90’s, we still had much of this seen as taboo, you walked into a bar or anyplace else, let them know you were gay, you most likely would have gotten beat up or thrown out, many cases both. While in the 60’s and 70’s gay bars were open in some of the larger cities, they weren’t something that was widely known; we saw these rapidly expand in the late 80’s into the 90’s. We also saw the first backlash from more conservative or religious circles to this ‘openness,’ Gay Revision Therapy started to be pushed by some of the religious groups as a means of curing what they saw as the sickness of homosexuality.
The late 90’s early 00’s things opened up much more, as a child of the 60’s and 70’s I was taught all my life to avoid gay people, but much of this changed when I opened a business. We had a telemarketing center that supported the business by booking appointments, about half of my employees were gay, it was then that my opinions started to change.
During this time I had my first experience with a gay employee that was HIV positive, remember the outright prejudice reactions he got from the other employees that were not gay, also very well remember them being shocked that I would not tolerate any of it. I do remember firing an employee because they came up and informed me they could not work with such a person, they had given into their sin, G-d had struck them with HIV to punish him, I responded as I should have, I fired that person, but sadly this was very much the view on this epidemic at that time.
There were new medical terms that I became acquainted with, such as T-Cell counts, how when they fell he would become very susceptible to any germ going around, my girlfriend, at that time, and I would visit him, would have to put on those masks so he would not get sick, we would show up at his home with food, so he had something to eat. I remember one time it was his birthday, promised him I would attend, was my first experience at a gay bar, soon my girlfriend and I were out dancing with the whole bar.
Sadly I also ran into the prejudice that can come from family in this, remember during the end, this man, his name was Ron, he had due to complications from HIV grown 12 cysts in his brain, was not able to function any longer, a friend of his was made executer of his will, she told me that she had called his mother, the mother asked if he was dead yet, when she said no, she informed her not to bother her until he was, that was the end of the call, my heart broke for him.
After his death we found out what we were presented and what was the history did not always the same. Ron was in the military when he was younger, was married, even had a daughter. It was in his thirties that he felt he could not lie any longer about whom he was, and came out. It was during this time that he came down with HIV (this he told me about earlier), it was a one night encounter, did not use protection, the partner had HIV.
I found out when his family found out he was gay; they disowned him, his father nor mother ever spoke to him again, the mother of his child moved so he could never have contact, I was horrified by this. Sadly Ron passed away, no one from his family went to his funeral, could not even send a flower, was so sad that such bitterness and animosity existed, more so with family members.
I shut down the centers in the early 2,000’s, did not have any dealings with the LGBT community after this, but then in the last five years did once more, but in a personal way I had not expected, I found out my nephew was gay. I come from a very religious family, we were taught all our lives that there was only one moral code to deal with anything, it is what is in the Torah or Bible, so I was not sure how the family would react to this. To my surprise my youngest sibling, who was very homophobic when he was younger accepted my nephew with open arms, soon the rest did as well. My parents may not have accepted the moral choices, but this was still their grandchild, and they loved him, that was the way things were going to remain.
As I watched the family interact I realized that much of the nation had come to deal with this the same way, your sexuality should not have you kicked out of your family; it is your thing, not a community event. I watched my parents; they were by far the most religious, they openly said that while they did not agree with the morality, they did have to agree to his right of choice, so they supported his choice and gave him the same love, the same with his parents.
Thus I realized, I can be a conservative and have no problem with the LGBT community, I don’t think any of us should. There are many within the gay community that shares much of the conservative ideology, to exclude because of their sexual orientation is wrong, the question that plagued us for years, gay marriage, that is over, the courts saw to that, so it is time to move on.
But I also need to caution some in the gay community, you have gained the right to live your life, marry whom you please, to live your life by your moral code, this is a great thing. But we have also seen some take people of faith to court, try to force them to bow to their lifestyle, work at their weddings and other such events when it goes against their faith, this is being done in many cases, not for equality, rather to force them to submit and be humiliated, this is wrong. In the same way, it was wrong to do Gay Conversion Therapy, how is it any different than trying to force people whose faith teaches homosexuality is wrong to have to bend to your will? Keep in mind, the gay community makes up less then 6% of the nation’s demographic; if you aggravate these people then you risk stirring up the 94%, you could lose all you fought for.
And for you that find this idea I just wrote out offensive, I and my wife, along with most of my family see little conflict with being inclusive; if you do, then I am not apologizing for how I feel, I just hope you learn to understand, even if you can’t accept. I have never had a problem, but some people have, that is why I wrote this piece.
Last, we need to learn to accept a difference in moral choices, seems the left is not capable of this, it is theirs or none. If there is a difference of opinion, ours is not the only valid one; people have different perspectives due to their place in life, to demand we all are the same is wrong. We need to take in the gay community, stop trying to exclude them, welcome them in, not try to go out of our way to ostracize them. The time of division is over; we need to learn as a party to do what we saw with the left for so long, the ability to unite in spite of their differences, for if we don’t, as Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Here are some groups and articles concerning this:
In Trump, pro-gay rights Republicans see a new hope