There has been a lot of hate as of late concerning the LGTB community (I know what’s new), from a California lawyer (Matt McLaughlin) who wants to make it legal to kill them "SodomiteSuppression Act" for no reason other than the fact that they are gay, to a bill in Michigan “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Jase Bolger/Mike Shirkey) that would make it legal for people to openly discriminate against them claiming religious beliefs, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
I know it’s hard to believe being the year 2015 and being America and all, but unfortunately it’s true, this is our reality and not some over the top made-up Hollywood script.
With all this negativity and hate making the headlines in regards to a group of people who want nothing more than to have the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us, I figured it would be a good time to pick their minds to see exactly how they felt about things.
Below are some questions I asked three very open and awesome people, who just happen to be gay, so sit back and hear what they have to say.
Please welcome to Extreme Christian…
Cary Vaughn is a writer and actor in Memphis, TN. If you enjoy acerbic wit and crass humor, you can read him at his website, The Reluctant Cat Owner's Journal (www.reluctantcatowner.com). Since starting his website in 2012, his articles have been featured on HumorOutcasts, LeftyPop, and Scary Mommy. He has been translated into Finnish for Vau.fi (leading parenting website in Finland) and has accidentally appeared on HuffPost Live in a cameo he for which he is still ashamed.
"My Gay Opinion"
"My Gay Opinion"
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck
1. How does it make you feel when people of faith, who claim to be all about love, say things like, “gays are going to hell” just for being how God made them?
Cary Vaughn: When I was new to being out, this infuriated me because these people don't realize that until the age of 26, I tried not being gay. I prayed. I hated myself. I ignored who I was supposed to be. It's kind of like that awfully hypocritical saying, "I don't hate the sinner; I hate the sin." When words like that fell into my ears, I would become seriously infuriated. Nowadays, I am pretty desensitized to rhetoric like this. Instead, I feel sorry for those who just don't know how ignorant they sound.
Gay Dave: I think it's totally hypocritical. It's just a bunch of noise that I ignore. I think that people like that have missed the point of their religion and the meaning of love.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: What I feel for people of faith who make statements such as, "gays are going to hell," is sadness. My feeling is that these individuals are so insecure about who they are, and how God views them that they feel they need to speak for God in a way that they present themselves as more worthy of salvation. That's not God speaking through them, that is fear. I feel sorrow for these people, because they are letting fear control them and their actions.
2. They’ve asked scientists and other heterosexuals if being gay is a choice or how they were born, but for some reason they never ask the people who are gay themselves, so with that said, is it a choice or was it how you were born?
Cary Vaughn: I can't speak for everybody else on this as I believe that sexuality is pretty broad, but for me, I certainly didn't choose it. I knew since I was a child. It just happened. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, if I had the ability to choose, I would have chosen not to be. Where I come from, the world is cruel to gay people, and I didn't want to have to endure that, so I stayed "in the closet." People often wonder how, if I was married, I could have sex with a woman. I just tell them that a young man with a sex drive will put his penis in pretty much anything. I had sex with a woman, but I was always attracted to men.
Gay Dave: Oh it was definitely how I was born. Looking back at my life and when I was little, it was pretty obvious. As stereotypical as it sounds, I would always prefer to play with Barbie than GI Joe...although, Barbie did need someone to date because Ken was just her gay BFF. HA! But I always remember being more attracted to boys than girls. That was even before I knew what being gay meant.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I can state without any hesitation that being gay for me is not a choice...it is who I am. I was born into a family with 3 other siblings (whom I love dearly and they, in turn, love me fully). For the most, we were all presented with the same set of circumstances in our developmental stages. We watched the same movies, we played the same sports, we hung around with the same kids and we were given the same set of parental guidance and love. In the debate over homosexuality being one of nature vs. nurture, the nurturing I received was extremely similar to my siblings, and yet I am the only one who identifies as being gay. I remember quite early on while watching movies like King Kong, with Jessica Lange, or Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep, and television shows such as Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman that I didn't have the same reaction as my brothers' to the females that were being showcased in limited clothing. There was no desirous thoughts crossing my mind. I did, however, feel an attraction for Lee Majors as The Six-Million Dollar Man. Even earlier than that I was drawn to Gary Collins in the television series, The Sixth Sense, and to Brian Keith in Family Affair. At the time I wasn't mentally developed enough to understand that I had an attraction for these television leading men. And yet, looking back I can see that even at 5 years of age I was attracted to males. The only choice that I ever had was to live my life as the person I was as gay or lead a miserable existence of deception and self-hatred. To be honest, I think if I didn't accept who I was and what my sexual orientation was then I would have lead a sexless life.
3. Based on what you already know and experienced from being gay it today’s world, would you recommend other gays to remain in the closet and stay hidden, or kick open the door and let the people know that you’re here, you’re queer and they need to get used to it?
Cary Vaughn: This is such a personal choice. I get uncomfortable when people make generalized statements about what gay men (closeted or otherwise) should do. How can these people have no consideration for individual circumstances? Yes, there is power in numbers, but when you come out, your life changes (at least mine did). Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. A life transition like that requires a person to be in a good place so that they are emotionally prepared for either. I think what's lacking is support for those that are scared of making this change. I mean, coming out is like confessing to a lie. A really BIG lie. It's not easy to confess to the world you lied to them this whole time.
Gay Dave: I think coming out is a very personal thing and you have to pick the right time to come out. As much as I'd love to say that coming out is the best thing ever, for some young gay kids, coming out could cause them to get kicked out on the street or banished from their families. If they're young and in a supportive family, sure they can come out. Otherwise it might be better to wait until they're on their own and can support themselves financially and emotionally. If they're older and already on their own, then it's just best to come out when they're ready. I don't think it's right to out someone.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I would never recommend other gay people remain in the closet, but I can understand why some would want to. If there is one fundamental truth that I hold dear to and live by it is the words written by Shakespeare in Hamlet where Polonius speaks his last words of advice to his son, Laertes:
"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
I cling to these words as a beacon of light...and of personal courage. I must be true to who I am, and to live as freely, openly and honestly as possible. If I cannot be true to myself then regardless of what I do or say to others I would be living a lie and being false to those who know me. This is how I choose to live my life. I have found peace and happiness in living this way, and I would encourage others to live their truth. But, I would be remiss not to state that in making the decision to live my life this way I have lost things. I was asked to leave my high school and not return, I've had family members turn their backs to me and never speak to me again, I lost my best friend, I was shunned by church members and church leaders, I found myself homeless with nothing except a small bag of clothes and eighty dollars in my pocket. I lost a lot of things by being publicly outed in high school and it was extremely difficult. And yet, even with everything I lost, I am happy for having the courage to live an open life.
4. What’s your opinion with how gays are portrayed in Hollywood?
Cary Vaughn: My opinion is that it's rather silly to give entertainment the power to persuade mine or the public's opinion. It's merely entertainment. And entertainment (for the sound mind) is only an escape from the real world. I will say, however, that there are certainly more gay role models being portrayed in movies and television than when I was growing up. When I "came out" Will & Grace was a popular television show, and in my inexperienced mind, gay people were either a serious Will or a flamboyant Jack. It was life that taught me that there are just as many varieties of gay men as there are straight men. So with that I say, if you really want to learn about gay men and gay culture, don't use a medium of fiction as a reference. Get out and get to know some gay people for goodness sake.
Gay Dave: I'm surprised at how many gay roles there are now in Hollywood. I grew up in a time when you didn't see anyone gay on TV. I mean there were some "questionable" characters but there weren't out gay characters. Now there's gays, lesbians, transgenders everywhere....I think it's great for gays to see themselves portrayed in the media. It shows gays that they're not alone and gives them characters to relate to. Sure sometimes the roles are stereotypical but sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. HA! But it's good when that's not always the case.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: In terms of how gays are portrayed in Hollywood today I would say that we are finally being shown as people. It has taken a long time to get to the point of showing gays that are vastly different. In decades past gays were generalized as being overtly feminine. I accept and embrace the gay males that openly express their femininity, and love them for the courage they exhibit. But not all gay men are the same. We all come from different backgrounds with different views and different feelings. Just as straight people are different so are gays. When I was young and gay we didn't have many people who were openly gay that we could look toward to give us a sense of self-acceptance and pride, so many gay people from my generation felt alone and isolated. It would have been wonderful to have gay male Hollywood icons that I could identify with. I remember attending the GLAAD awards one year when Marriage Equality was in the earliest public debate and one of the attendees was Elizabeth Taylor. She took to the stage and said, "I don't know what all the fuss is about gay marriage. The way I see it is if two people love each other they should be able to get married. And I should know a thing or two about marriage! And, I've been very fortunate in my career to have worked with all the most wonderful gay actors in Hollywood. I worked with Montgomery Clift, I worked with Rock Hudson, and I worked with James Dean!" It would have been personally incredible to know that these Hollywood A-List actors were gay, but if they wouldn't have had the career they did if they were out and open. We needed to grow as a society before Hollywood could portray us accurately. We've finally reached that point, and I'm thrilled to see it.
5. Would you say that most people of faith are accepting of you and your way of life and show you much love, or condemning and constantly trying to change you and/or demeaning?
Cary Vaughn: It wouldn't be fair to make a general statement about this. Some are kind and accepting, others are not. To me, a person's mental stability has more to do with how they treat a gay person than their faith.
Gay Dave: I'm lucky because I live in a state that isn't very religious. So nobody ever tries to condemn me or change me for religious reasons. I've been discriminated against for being gay but never by religious people, it's always been from ignorant people. Some members of my family are some what religious (Catholic) and accepting of me and I work in a company that is owned by a Jewish family and they're completely accepting of me. I came out in the job interview so they knew from the get go. Personally I think Jewish people have had their time being persecuted and they're much more accepting of gays. But that's just my personal experience.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: For the most part, I don't come across too many people of faith that spew hateful sentiments toward me, because the church that I attend was originally founded with its doors open to everyone but with a special outreach to the LGBT community. I usually take part in the annual Los Angeles Gay Pride parade, and there are always a number of protesters carrying signs declaring that God Hates Fags or Burn In Hell Sodomites, or some other such disgusting, vile words of hate. This past Saturday, I attended the memorial service for my friend, Rev. Malcolm Boyd, and I was momentarily taken aback by the sight of some elderly man who was carrying a homemade sign of some form of hate. My husband and I walked boldly toward the protester...all the while holding each other's hand. I couldn't tell exactly what it said because as we were passing the man to climb the steps to the church he began screaming at us and told us that someone had torn part of his paper sign. He still let us know that God hates us and that we'd be going straight to hell. STRAIGHT to hell? The irony of the statement brought a smile to my face, and I waved to him and said, "God bless you, brother." I guess that the effectiveness of the protesters' hateful ways has long since been lost to me.
6. Do you ever get tired of hearing straight men say, “I don’t mind gay people, as long as they don’t try anything”?
Cary Vaughn: Ha. I've never encountered this one, actually. Must be nice to think you're so hot that homos are anxious to "try something." To those straight men, I would say, "Honey, don't worry. Straight men are absolutely terrible at gay sex. You wouldn't do it for me at all."
Gay Dave: I've never actually had a straight guy say that to me. If they did, I'd probably make a comment about them being hot or having a nice ass just to unnerve them. HA!
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: This statement must be one that is said to straight men. I don't ever hear it personally. I have many friends who are heterosexual, and I would never disrespect them in any way to make them feel uncomfortable. Although I do have a very dear straight friend who works in law enforcement, and used to work for the bomb squad, that insists on greeting me with a kiss on the lips. His wife laughs and says that I am one of the very few men he ever kisses that way. And then there is my straight brother-in-law, Jimmy. He and I have the most wonderful, mutually-loving relationship. He's been calling me with the nickname, Precious, since the first day we met. He grabs my head and plants a big old kiss on me.
(This must be something that only straight men say to each other when trying to come off as tolerant, a half-assed attempt at being political correct I guess.)
7. Why do you think some people fight so hard to keep gays from marrying, with arguments like, “the sanctity of marriage” and/or the ever famous, “it would lead to bestiality, incest, etc.”, when marriage as it stands between one man and one woman is by no means for the most part respectable and/or holy?
Cary Vaughn: I believe that people fight so hard against same-sex marriage simply from indoctrination and/or social acceptance (my peers are against gay marriage so I am, too). Nowadays, it's as if some are trying to "out-Christian" each other with more and more outrageous claims (such as same-sex marriage leading to marrying a pig or a child), as if it makes them a better Christian if they think up more horrible things about gay people than their predecessor. We've gone from "gay parents stunt the developmental growth of children" all the way to "gays will die out because we don't reproduce." I sit by and anxiously await what these people (who have absolutely no experience with science or gay culture) will think of next. I'm just stumped as to why some people latch on to maniacal rhetoric such as that without considering logic and reason.
Gay Dave: That's easy, it's about discrimination and fear of what they don't know. People who are closed minded can't see anything outside of their own little world. Once they believe something, they can't admit they're wrong about it.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am not sure why some people are fighting so hard to stop gay marriage. Maybe some people just are not happy unless they have something to hate. They NEED to have something, or someone, where they can direct their anger to feel a sense of superiority. Some seem to be going to great lengths to prevent Marriage Equality from happening, and make outrageous allegations of how it is going to ruin society, or that it will lead to bestiality or incest. You have to wonder what the world would be like if they were able to redirect all this negative energy and focus it positively on something that they appreciate and would like to see flourish and succeed.
8. Have the actions of people, who claim to be of faith, in regards to gays hinder your feelings towards said faith?
Cary Vaughn: Yes. It's hard not to, though I know this isn't fair to judge a group of people based on a few. But I make these judgments based on experience, not prejudice. I've been emotionally burned too many times in the name of God. It would be stupid of me not to be guarded.
Gay Dave: Oh yeah, I'm not religious at all and I wouldn't get involved in an organized religion. I wouldn't get involved in any organization (religious or otherwise) that discriminates for any reason. I wouldn't join a country club that doesn't allow blacks or an all male club that excludes women either. Unless you're accepting of everyone, I'm not interested. You know what, if someone has a problem with gays that's there problem and not mine, I'd prefer to be told up front and we can both move on with our lives.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: People of Faith are first and foremost people, and we are all human with faults. And yes, that includes me. I am not perfect, and I am not a Saint, and I still can grow and learn about topics or issues that I am either ignorant or misguided about. I accept that in myself, and I accept that in others. It is rather disheartening to hear people that we would like to believe has a closer connection to God make statements that just do not ring as being from a place of love and inclusiveness, and I can only hope and pray that at some point they will receive a revelation and change of heart.
9. Is it scary being gay in today’s world?
Cary Vaughn: It is. Every time I read a story about violence and emotional abuse against gays (and it happens much more often than you may realize because most of them aren't covered in mainstream media), I always think to myself, 'That could have easily been me or my partner.' I'm getting sad even thinking about this, actually. There are places I don't go because of this. Church, for example.
Gay Dave: Not where I live. But there's certain places in the world I wouldn't go because of the way they treat gays. For me as a teen, being gay was very scary and life threatening but once I became an adult it really hasn't been an issue.
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I have seen such a huge societal change since first coming out in 1979. That period, and the era of the AIDS epidemic, were scary times, but those frightening times made us strong and fearless. We found our voice and we used it to help change perception. Today I see how the groundwork that we did back then has helped mold the general understanding of what being gay really is, and how youths are able to express themselves with pride. There are still cases where young LGBT individuals are victimized due to their orientation, so I know that we still need to educate some people.
10. When it comes to equal rights for gays, are we as a society making long strides and on the right track, or taking baby steps and even sometimes standing still?
Cary Vaughn: I think we are moving at the right pace. History has taught us that cultural change has a timeline. However, when I first came out, I never thought I would see states legally recognize same-sex marriage in my lifetime. Goes to show you never know. As much as I wish we could wave a wand and create acceptance, you can't change a world's perspective in a short amount of time and you can't force this change. Doing so only creates more resistance and anger, and my life is already full of enough conflict.
Gay Dave: I grew up in a time when gay marriage wasn't even an option. I never thought I'd be able to get married. So now that I can, I still haven't. I've been with my partner for 13 years and we talk about it but more in terms of what it could legally grant us. The institution of marriage isn't that important to us. So when you think about it in those terms (marriage and gays in the media), I think we've come quite a ways in my lifetime. But it's been a slow time coming. I can't believe there are still places that don't allow gay marriage which is saying that we're still ok with discrimination in this country. For me it's not a question of what does marriage mean (is it between a man and a woman or two men or two women), for me it's a matter of who can we discriminate against and who is it ok to withhold rights from. I'd like to think that in my life time I'll see gay marriage in all states and maybe we'll start worrying about more serious issues like poverty, homelessness, and the Kardashian's setting the women's movement back 100 years. HA!
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am quite proud of the advancements that we have seen over the past 3.5 decades. When you look at the actual time frame, 35 years to get progress to this point is rather astounding. We haven't yet achieved all we hoped and dreamed for in terms of equality for the LGBT community...but I'm hopeful to see it come to full fruition before it is my time to be welcomed into Jesus' arms.
11. How do you feel about the "Sodomite Suppression Act" and/or the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”?
Cary Vaughn: When I first read about Matt McLaughlin's proposal, I thought I was reading satire. When I realized he was serious, I kind of laughed to myself (see answer about sitting back and watching what these crazy people will do next) because we all know that a law like this will never pass. The religious freedom bills that are popping up across the US, however, are annoying. It's hard to believe that some still don't understand that for every action, there is a reaction. For Matt, there's currently a petition to have him (rightfully) disbarred (and it's already at 35,000 signatures and growing), and on many occasions, large businesses have threatened to take their money elsewhere if a state signs a religious freedom bill into law (I've provided links supporting this below):
If only the parents of the people who are behind these proposed laws would have raised their children to not be bigots, they wouldn't now be marked in history as an embarrassment to this country.
Gay Dave: Well I didn't know that these acts existed. I find it sad that people would spend SO much money to try and make discrimination and even murder legal. That money could be spent doing something good for the world instead of tearing it down. I feel the same way about all the money being spent on laws to prevent gay marriage. Use that money to help those in need! Stop spreading hate!
Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am repulsed by the "Sodomite Suppression Act," and find that a person who thinks it would be a good idea to kill a group of people should be locked up from society. I am all for free speech, but a person who believes this is a justifiable act is a seriously dangerous individual with demented thoughts. As for the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," I can understand that people have their own personal religious beliefs that drive them, but they probably shouldn't open public businesses. If they object so fervently to differences in beliefs then they should perhaps find a different line of work. I couldn't imagine a company putting up signs that says, "We don't serve Jewish people, or Buddhists, or Muslims."
Needless to say the treatment of the LGBT community in this world of ours is appalling, shameful and utterly ridiculous, and if things don’t change for the better real soon, I could honestly see us fighting another Civil War.
Now of course we all know there’s no such thing as a “Civil War”, it’s an oxymoron, it’s not like we say to each other before we fire on them, “Excuse me my brother, would you mind if I shot you”.
Nevertheless, that is where we are heading if we don’t make some drastic changes to our way of thinking, but this time instead of fighting over slavery, trades, etc, we will be fighting over people’s sexual orientation, and tell me that’s not ludicrous.
I am ashamed to admit this, but it seems as if a good majority of the negativity that is being aimed at these people is coming from those who claim to be followers of God or some other deity.
Their actions and statements give religion as a whole, regardless of the faith, a very poor reputation.
We, as God fearing individuals (no matter what God you follow) should not allow this, and should do everything in our power to fight the enemies within our walls and cleanse our faith for the betterment of its people and its message.
You may not agree with it, you may not think it’s natural, but the bottom line is it’s not for you to decide and quite frankly you should just mind your own business.
God loves us all equally, and not just the ones you think deserve it or not.