I’m From Freehold, NJ.

by dan

Fifteen years ago, I was sitting in the living room with my dad. On the TV screen in front of us, PBS was airing a documentary on the Civil War. I watched, entranced as hordes of men dressed in either blue or gray scrambled across the screen while trying to dodge explosions. A feeling of unease started to grow within me as I watched those from the North–where I had been born and raised–killing those who were from the South–the land that my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins still called their home.

Turning to my dad, I asked “Which side are the bad guys on?”

Fast forward to the present where I am continually trying to reconcile my two main identities. I am gay. I am a christian. Sitting in front of my computer, I still watch people hurl explosive accusations and hateful slurs at each other from the glow of a screen. As I read people claiming to exhibit the love of Christ saying that all fags will burn in hell, gay people just as dogmatically saying that all Christians are hate-filled bigots stuck in the middle ages, both sides accusing each other of dragging the country to its destruction, the same question comes to mind:

“Which side are the bad guys on?”

12 Comments:

  1. There are bad guys on BOTH sides. The trick is to stay true to your beliefs while ignoring or standing up to those who don’t.

    I wish it was as easy as it sounds.

  2. I dated a very religious Christian once, who helped me see how bad it was to frame the debate as Christians versus gays. It’s that us-vs.-them mentality that’s so hard to get away from.

  3. I believe there are good guys and bad guys on both sides. The “bad guys” typically are more extreme and refuse to listen. The bad guys also tend to dislike or hate the other side based on the group they’re affiliated with, as opposed to who they are as a person and what beliefs they have. It’s okay to not like someone and to disagree with someone, but not because of a group they belong to. Nice analogy to the civil war, Dan.

  4. I can SO relate with you. I went to a Christian college in upstate NY in the 90s & now I’m out-n-proud in Philadelphia’s gay community. Sometimes I hesitate from even writing things on Facebook because either my Christian friends will come crashing down on my for it, or my gay & liberal friends will beat me up over it. It’s so hard to stay true to your beliefs in the face of both camps. It doesn’t have to be us-vs-them. There is a LOT of common ground, if we can just get past the hate (on both sides).

  5. I dated an avowed god hater in college and while I was and remain fairly agnostic, something about that bothered me. I’m fairly comfortable not knowing the secrets of the universe. I’m generally uncomfortable when other people think that they have found the solutions, whatever that solution is: whether it be the vast emptiness of space, Christ, or Cthulu.

    (Meanwhile, hello to my aquatic roommate above!)

  6. There are bad guys on each side, as people said above, but it’s not necessarily the “more extreme.” Personally, I try to just let people get to know the whole me before knowing my sexuality. The truth is, that we are all just human beings, and a lot of us just want to help people and make life better and easier for others. I like people to get to know the side of me that is a volunteer and is passionate about my work, and is always helping other people from standing up for my beliefs, to even holding the door for every random passer-by. If you let yourself be troubled by the fighting, it’s harder to change the poor image of people who live with anger and would cut you down for what you believe or who you are, but by just being who you are, and living to show that you can be both gay and Christian, then you can prove just by your example that there really is nothing bad about either. I read a good book that sorta relates because it is set in the future, when a group of Christians finally come around to believe that homosexuality is not an abomination. . there are still characters in the story who maintain the mindset that gays will “burn in hell,” but what is called the “Jesus Revolution” is people who have accepted that you can be gay and Christian, or Jewish, or any religion, and there’s nothing wrong with it because everyone has the right to believe what they do and be who they are. It was called “Wide Awake” by David Levithan.

    Just be yourself, because I truly believe that the day when people learn to accept each other like that is coming. . .

  7. I have been on both sides and I was not a “Bad” then are nowr. That is the thing I think we need to change – we are all just at different stages of growth and understanding. I see myself as more enlightened and that has changed me for the better. This does not mean I still do not have a blindness and that the unenlighted part of me is seen as a “bad” guy to someone. It may be they need to greater understanding or that I still need greater understanding. I know what it is like to judge so wrongly that I hurt others and it still pains me when I think about it, so I am very aware that one day we all must face the pain of realizing we were wrong and how that effected others. It is for that reason that I try to show as much compassion, understanding, and acceptance as I ask for.

  8. You people all seem very confused. Saying “there are bad guys on both sides” doesn’t mean much at all. That’s stating the obvious. What you seem to forget is that being gay is not a philosophy or a belief or a lifestyle choice. It is a core and undeniable part of oneself.

    Religion is not only a choice, but often tantamount to brainwashing. Children are fed it from day one by their parents and even those who come to it as adults are usually brought to religion at a time of crisis, when they are vulnerable.

    Let’s be honest here: there is no gay agenda trying to stop people believing in Jesus and going to Mass on a Sunday or trotting down to the mosque for morning prayers. On the other hand, all major religions specifically condemn homosexuality. Even if you are a liberal/moderate Christian you are still basing it on a book filled with violence, hatred, misogyny, racism… Please don’t try to suggest otherwise.

    Any of you who only believe parts of the bible are cherrypicking, which makes even less sense. Or are you just making up a powerful being so life will feel better? That’s fine so long as you admit it and stop using it to belittle others. The fact is that “pious” people get far too many perks and privileges.

    Those of you who are religious are likely to take offence at the idea that I’m telling you there is no god and that religion is a bad idea. I’d suggest you ask yourself why you believe in it. There is no evidence at all for a supernatural being. You can talk about “the mysteries of the universe” until the cows come home but if you think like rational skeptics for a while you will see that the little information we do have all trends towards there being no god and no rules.

    Being an atheist is not only logical, it is also human and natural. It makes each of us responsible for our own actions and reminds us that things cannot be undone or forgiven – we have to be careful in our dealings with others. You religious folks can hate on me and go tell Jesus you are sorry and then feel better but if I do something bad to you, I only have myself to forgive me… and we’re harder on ourselves than any god.

    Give us all a break and stop talking about non-existent skyghosts.

  9. the fact that peoples’ beliefs are their choice is a right they have as humans. . . neither you nor anyone else has a right to belittle that. people believe what they do for their own reasons, and even if that is to seek aid in a time of crisis, then would you deny them this, or call them stupid for just trying to believe that there is some reason and purpose for the crisis they are in? and for all of that “little proof” of there being “skyghosts,” there is also no proof that any sentient being does not exist. I agree with you that we are responsible for our own actions, and should be compassionate, so just know that by you belittling people who would like to believe what they chose, you are not showing compassion. please listen to your own words, and instead of showing disrespect toward people here, who are compassionate people sharing their stories in hopes that they might aid some other person out there trying to cope with and accept themselves for who they are, look at the bigger picture and you’ll see that we should be accepting each other no matter what religion, race, sexual orientation, and anything else, not in spite of differences of opinion or belief. instead we should be accepting each person for who they are, every part. Be an atheist. . no one should ever stop you, and those who would “hate on you” for that reason are the one’s who need to come to better understanding and acceptance, but you might consider that you haven’t attained such a level of understanding and acceptance, or “enlightenment” as someone said above, if you would attempt to discredit and degrade the beliefs of other people here because you don’t believe them to be right or even possible. . . we have the right to that choice, but not to force our choice on anyone else. I personally don’t know what I believe right now because I was raised roman catholic, but that religious order as a whole is not accepting of the fact that I am gay, but I do know that if i decide that there is a belief system that does something for me, whether it gives me a sense of purpose, or just gives me a sense of peace and calm, and gives me a glimpse of the compassion of others, then I don’t want anyone, either you, or fundamentalists who say gays will burn in hell, to tell me that I am wrong and should change to what is “logical.” no one has the right to say what is logical, because no one has the capacity to know beyond the shadow of any doubt that any one religion, or lack there of, is truly irrefutable.

  10. Personally, no one here can prove or disprove anything, which is why I’m agnostic. If someone believing in Jesus causes them to do good in the world, then I’m 100% okay with that. If someone believing in a goat as a deity causes them to do good int he world, I’m also 100% okay with that. Who cares who’s right or wrong about what they believe, UNTIL people start using their beliefs to impose on the rights and lives of others? Whatever reason you use to be a good person, use it. Once you use it to start negatively effecting other people, take a second to reconsider.

  11. agreed. . thanks!

  12. While I tend to shy away from extremism in both political and religious spheres, I have to agree with Mark. Organized religion is the single greatest source of grief for gay people around the world. Even Gene Robinson, a gay bishop and (presumably) a deeply religious person admits as much. While there are certainly good and tolerant believers out there (and within the gay community), I firmly believe that all of our lives would be easier if the influence of religion in western societies were diminished.

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