My Name is Edwin. »« Omitted Reader Comment

A Reader’s Guide to “On Homosexuality”

I have no idea what LOGBTQA means.  This was placed on my blog by an unhappy reader who didn’t like that I used the terms “homosexual” and “gay,” and suggested that LOGBTQ be used instead.   For the moment at least, I have decided to use the term (if a term it be) GLBT.   At least I think I know what it means.

Please do not confuse ignorance with bigotry.  One may seem bigoted because they are ignorant.  This does not mean they are bigoted, it just means that they are ignorant.  Of course they can also be both ignorant and bigoted.  “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

My blog post “On Homosexuality” has suddenly drawn more negative responses than has any other of my writings.  This should get my attention.  And it has.

The work is a reprinting of my essay “On Homosexuality,” written in 1995 or before, and published in my book, “Baubles of Blasphemy,” originally edited by Ed Buckner and published by the Atlanta Freethought Press, in 1995.  The work has gone into a second printing, edited by Frank Zindler and published by American Atheist Press, in 2009.  You can order a copy, if interested, at atheists.org or amazon.com.

There has been a pleasing amount of praise for this book by some and much criticism of its contents by others.  Indeed, there have been specific criticisms of the essay “On Homosexuality,” but the comments have most commonly expressed outrage that I was supporting “gay rights” in any way at all.  I was deemed to be a secret homosexual who was in the pockets, if not the pants, of those promoting the imaginary “Homosexual Agenda.”

Then, in 2012, seventeen years at least since the essay was written and published, in the idealized visionary hope that it might do some good to those of our fellow mortals who were GLBT, the work was republished in Freethought Blogs.

To my stunned amazement, there followed an avalanche of negative comments accusing me of being homophobic and insensitive to the feelings of those I was, in the greatest of good faith, trying to help in combating the same type bigotry that is still occurring against GLBT(s?) and atheists.

I still do not, after much thought, understand fully what is upsetting to those who wrote as they did.  Whether or not I understand the emotions of the writers on this, I do understand that a certain portion of my essay has hurt them deeply.

I have just researched LOGBTQA and learned that LGBTQA means “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, and Allied, but I have not been able to learn what LOGBTQA means.  Might be a typo.  It is easy to make such mistakes; mistakes which should be readily forgivable and fixable.

Being thus admonished and educated, I shall henceforth (at least in this writing) use the term (if term it be) LGBTQA.  Am I an Allied?  I would certainly hope so.

I will readily concede that it is indeed possible to be unconsciously bigoted toward a group such as  LGBTQA, even while writing in support of their rights.  I do not believe I fit in this category, but it is pretty hard to know just what one might be unconsciously thinking.  What are you unconsciously thinking right now?

The snake bite joke (for joke it was and is), that forms the frame for the essay was, consciously at least, nothing more than a mocking of people who actually felt that way.  I am an Eagle Scout.  Of course I know that snake bite kits and making X cuts and sucking and spiting poison from a snake bite wound are to be avoided because doing such will inevitably cause even graver injury.  Such a conversation never happened.  It was a made up story thought, at the time of writing, to be useful in making from humor a more serious point.  If a friend of mine was in a life threatening situation, I would do anything possible to save that friend, even if it meant risking my own death.  Embarrassment or sexual phobias would have no place in such a situation.  I would do what was needed, no matter how unpleasant such actions might seem to be to me or to anyone else.

Yes, my writings are intended to offend—but not to offend those they are trying to help.  If the use of the snake story offended you, I sincerely apologize.  Please know, and hopefully understand, that such was not intended.  What was intended was to offend those who might actually act in conformity with such “moral” principles.

The misunderstanding comes, in part I think, from generational differences.  Before many of you were born, I was active, and under fire, in a variety of activities that achieved greater civil rights and open housing for those then self-called “colored people.”  I was condemned as a “Communist” by my U.S. Representative, and I was called a “nigger lover” by my minister father. It was unthinkable that any decent person (meaning white person) would favor going to school with them, or, perish the thought, marrying one of them.  Both going to school with the “colored” and marrying a person of “the colored race” were crimes in most states.  Homosexuality was an unthinkable crime and was unlawful.  In some places, it could be punished by death.  I clearly remember such horrors as separate “white” and “colored” drinking fountains.  You could easily tell which was which.  The “white” one was a nice water cooler.  The “colored” one was a pipe with a faucet.  “Separate but equal” indeed.

It is perhaps impossible for persons who did not live in a certain time to understand the emotions of that time.  Nor is it possible for one person to fully understand what may offend another person who holds a different view, be that on race, religion, atheism, or sexual orientation. Particularly if they are from different generations.   When I was in law school, everyone smoked.  Even in class.  It would have not been possible then to imagine a world where no one smoked.  People of the present generation might well find it impossible to imagine a society in which almost everybody smoked.

Similarly, it is probably impossible for some of those who have written accusations of homophobia to understand just how far things have come in the past generation.  Those who do recall, or understand those times, should try to appreciate just how daring it would be to advocate any rights whatsoever for persons thought to be deviate.  Persons the law had declared criminal.

I am honored indeed to be given a spot on FTB, and I do not wish to do or say anything that might seem retrograde to the entire spirit of the undertaking.

I have published all comments that I have seen.  It is within my power on the blog to delete any comment I wish.  In that I believe in free speech, I have deleted none of them.

Edwin Kagin, by dog.