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Hot Topic: Define Homophobia

LGBT Homophobia

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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 12:23 AM

Ok.  I've seen the word bandied about in several places, and I want to get an understanding of what people mean by it.

By strict definition - the word means fear of man.  Ok. We know THAT'S not what is meant.  But popular usage has lead me to believe that we aren't even talking about "fear" unless we are insisting that any disagreement with the current thinking about homosexuality constitutes "fear."  It appears from the usage of the word that anyone who opposes any of the moves being made by the gay community are labelled "homophobic,"  and I think this is essentially unfair, and does a real disservice to everyone - as it discontinues dialogue on the subject.

What are your thoughts?  How do YOU define the word?

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#2 Ogami

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 12:36 AM

Ooo ooo, I know this one.

Homophobia used to be defined by an act such attacking homosexuals or stating you hate them personally or viscerally. It used to mean beating somebody up, or calling them the "F' word.

Over the past decade, gay rights groups have striven mightily to redefine the term. And in certain segments, they've succeeded. To many, homophobia is now defined as not supporting new gay rights laws, gay marriage, and gay benefits at companies. It has also been expanded to include those who are against homosexuality based on religious belief.

It doesn't matter if a religious person says they hate no one, they are still declared homophobic for their religious faith. And it doesn't matter if someone says they hate no one, and oppose new gay rights laws, they are still declared homophobic for opposing a change in the law.

I learned this change of definition the hard way back on the Xena Netforum, when I was told I was homophobic for not agreeing that federal laws needed to be changed. I protested, I insisted I was no such thing, and learned the new "definitions" of homophobia. It's an ever-widening list.

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#3 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 01:09 AM

Ogami, on Jun 11 2003, 09:40 AM, said:

Over the past decade, gay rights groups have striven mightily to redefine the term. And in certain segments, they've succeeded. To many, homophobia is now defined as not supporting new gay rights laws, gay marriage, and gay benefits at companies. It has also been expanded to include those who are against homosexuality based on religious belief.
Thanks for responding, Ogami.  This is what I've been noticing - and I think it is a disturbing trend.

Quote

It doesn't matter if a religious person says they hate no one, they are still declared homophobic for their religious faith. And it doesn't matter if someone says they hate no one, and oppose new gay rights laws, they are still declared homophobic for opposing a change in the law.

Right.  From where I sit - it looks like name-calling and stereotyping.  I find it offensive.

1. A person can have a religious belief that precludes homosexuality.  Equating this with "racism" is essentially unfair.  There are very few racial precepts codified into religious doctrine - anti-homosexual behavior IS codified that way.  I once saw a special about a minister going around teaching that people could be "healed" from homosexuality.  His entire ministry was about reaching out to homosexuals, and embracing them, and helping them to not engage in homosexual behavior.  Many in the gay community felt that this was essentially offensive - but labelling it homophobic really requires quite a stretch.

2. A person can have political opinions that conflict with the direction some gay-rights groups want to go with, without having anything against homosexuals.  They may simply disagree that the way some gay-rights groups want to go about things is the way things should be.  But - the voice of these groups can be so powerful that dissenting voices are drowned out - and all in the name of "homophobia."

There are some people who really are hateful homophobes - they are rather noticeable - and grouping other people who respectfully disagree with the gay-rights movement with these people is unfair in the extreme.

Een Draght Mackt Maght


#4 Rhea

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 01:16 AM

What I call homophobia is pretty much how I define the same set of behavior towards Jews or Muslims. It's unfairly judging and dealing with an entire group of people based on generalized fear and hatred of that group.

This kind of phobia has a lot of twists and turns. For centuries the Jews were reviled because "they crucified Christ." (Never mind, of course, that Jesus was a Jew).

Muslims are now viewed with extreme prejudice by many people in this country, in spite of the fact that 9/11 was caused by a few extremists who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

I have a slight phobia about anyone who beats on themselves in the name of religion (thinking Muslims and the Hispanic flagellantes in particular. Beating on yourself in the name of religion? Icky!  :eek2: )

OK, dictionary definitions:

Webster's defines "homophobia" as an "irrational hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality."

Webster's defines "ignorance" as "a lack of specific knowledge."

I think both would apply to the currently accepted definition of homophobia. I would also add that I believe that Christianity instills into many people what amounts to homophobia - a feeling that homosexuals are perverts and icky and shouldn't be around decent folks. So I would add that to my definition of homophobia as well. I should add that I know many religious people who believe that like many of the dietary laws, the Old Testament prohibition against homosexuality is outdated, and accept gay people as being just like anyone else (without judgement or feeling that they're sinning by being together).

Here's a definition not mine but interesting:

http://www.menstuff....homophobia.html

Quote

1. The fear and hatred of gays and lesbians. Gay and lesbian people live in constant fear of assault and harassment. They are regularly attacked for no other reason than their assailants' homophobia. (96% of gay men have experienced verbal abuse because of their sexual preference, over 40% have experienced physical violence.)

2. The fear of being perceived as gay or lesbian. Gay people are forced to stay in the closet for fear of suffering the prejudices and further pain. Whether gay, bisexual or heterosexual, men are afraid to ask for and to express the physical caring and emotional intimacy we feel for one another for fear of being thought "gay". Men often place demands on women to provide the nurturance, touching and affection they can not seek from one another.

3. The fear of one's own sexual or physical attraction for same-sex individuals. It is natural to be attracted to and even turned on by same-sex people. We do not have to choose to act on these feelings; nor do we have to suppress them, run away from them, or hurt others to prove we're a "real" man.

4. The fear of being gay or lesbian. On average, one person in ten is gay. Amongst your family members, your friends, your co-workers, the public figures you admire, one in every ten is gay. While some have been embittered by society's prejudices, the vast majority of gay people lead diverse, well adjusted, satisfying lives.

And my favorite, Professor Peter John Gomes, an respected ordained Baptist minister, who served in the Memorial Church at Harvard and caused a big stink by coming out of the closet:

http://www.cyberpsyc...hobia/gomes.htm

The speech was given to a group of psycholanalysts (!):

Quote

It falls to me as a Christian minister and a practitioner of religion to indicate that in the matter of sexual prejudice, religion is fundamentally a part of the problem and one can only hope that by acknowledging that, it may well indeed become part of the solution as well. Perhaps the one thing that my profession and yours have in common is that we have a great deal to answer for in the question of this prejudice which we are confronting today.

Edited by Rhea, 12 June 2003 - 01:19 AM.

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#5 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 01:34 AM

Thanks, Rhea, for responding here.

The inclusion of some religious people, including Christians who think that biblical attitudes toward homosexuality are outdated doesn't therefore make those who disagree with that position wrong.

My own feelings are ambivalent.  I have issues with homosexuality as a practice, and yet, I've known, and been friends with practicing homosexuals all my life.  I've certainly never hated them, nor feared them, nor feared being considered "one of them."  There was just no issue.  Save one - I didn't think at the time that their behavior was right.  But I knew and know a lot of people who were doing things that I thought were wrong - homosexuality was just one of the list of wrongs being committed by some of the people I knew.  AND - I was/am certainly no saint - I have my own list of wrongs.  So - in essence - I think we were all equal.  How does that equate to being homophobic?

In my opinion, the question can only be factually answered when factual information is brought in to state unequivocably that homosexuality is a naturally occuring phenomenon.  Then it is time for people to reevaluate their opinions and religious beliefs - and what people come up with may STILL not be what gay-rights groups want, but it may be a positive shift based on understanding of the facts.  Conversely - proof that naturally occuring homosexuality exists may make some people want to "genetically correct" for this "problem" or some other hateful proposition.

Until such time as we have this definitive proof, we have only our own opinions, conscience and the thoughts of modern and ancient thinkers to guide us - and I think that persistent dialogue without namecalling is the only way we are going to sort out the issues satisfactorily.

QT

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#6 Drew

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 02:03 AM

"Homophobe" is merely a derogatory label. It's an invented word that doesn't mean what its etymological roots indicate that it should mean. It is used only to attack one's political foes, and the sooner it is removed from common usage, the better. When I hear or read this word, I assume that reasoned discourse has taken a holiday. If I am ever forced to edit a book in which this word appears, I will draw a thick red line through it with malice aforethought. The word is never necessary, and more precise language can always be used in its place.
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#7 Alex

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 02:25 AM

Rhea, on Jun 11 2003, 10:20 AM, said:

2. The fear of being perceived as gay or lesbian. Gay people are forced to stay in the closet for fear of suffering the prejudices and further pain. Whether gay, bisexual or heterosexual, men are afraid to ask for and to express the physical caring and emotional intimacy we feel for one another for fear of being thought "gay". Men often place demands on women to provide the nurturance, touching and affection they can not seek from one another.
Yes, the hardest part about being gay, which I am, if you haven't already noticed, would have to be coming out of the "closet". This summer, I plan on informing my family, then my friends, then other people. I'm sure that next year at school, I'll have my share of homophobes to deal with, but I'll have my tazer at the ready. ;)
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#8 sierraleone

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 02:47 AM

QueenTiye, on Jun 11 2003, 06:38 AM, said:

In my opinion, the question can only be factually answered when factual information is brought in to state unequivocably that homosexuality is a naturally occuring phenomenon. Then it is time for people to reevaluate their opinions and religious beliefs - and what people come up with may STILL not be what gay-rights groups want, but it may be a positive shift based on understanding of the facts. Conversely - proof that naturally occuring homosexuality exists may make some people want to "genetically correct" for this "problem" or some other hateful proposition.
Either way, whether its genetic or enviromental influence, theres a way to say "theres something wrong with them", either way they loose to the people who are actively against homosexuals. If its genetic, a genetic defect, like poor sight and they can't help it (until we perfect genetic engineering...  :unsure: ), or its something in their enviroment/how they were raised, in which case counselling or other help should help  :rolleyes:

One of my definitions of homo-phobics is if you're only against one homophobic gender :p (I know a few people that would rant on and on about how disgusting and unnatural it is to be a gay person - as in gay man - but don't say anything about lesbians or say little like its ok.... or one even goes as far to say as its unnatural for men, but natural (and of course a favourite sexy fantasy of his too  :rolleyes: ) for women *sigh* ) Of course, by what I've said, they aren't against all homosexuals, just half of them  :whatsthat:

I have a hard time understanding why people would object to some parts of the gay movement (such as homosexual marriages, I figure everyone has a right to be happy and be married to the person they *love*) but there might be some things I object to in their movement, I haven't followed it all that closely. But I wouldn't label someone homophobic just because they are against the gay movements, even getting them the right to marry their partner, even if it makes me want to put my hands on my hip ;) :)

:) Good luck with that Alex, hope all goes well  :)
(er, not the tazer thing though, you're joking about that right??  ;) )

Edited by sierraleone, 12 June 2003 - 02:50 AM.

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#9 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 02:53 AM

sierraleone, on Jun 11 2003, 11:51 AM, said:

Either way, whether its genetic or enviromental influence, theres a way to say "theres something wrong with them", either way they loose to the people who are actively against homosexuals. If its genetic, a genetic defect, like poor sight and they can't help it (until we perfect genetic engineering...  :unsure: ), or its something in their enviroment/how they were raised, in which case counselling or other help should help  :rolleyes:
Right - but if it is environmental - then we might make the assumption that it is something that *should* be fixed, whereas - if it is genetic, we have more options.  Perhaps it should be *fixed* or *corrected*, but perhaps not.  Either way - the moral issue is removed.  A person born a certain way is just born a certain way.  I think that is why the gay movement is working to have that viewpoint accepted - but there hasn't been conclusive proof yet.

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#10 Bad Wolf

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:23 AM

okay, first of all  {{{{{{{{{{{{{QT}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Bless you for starting this topic and ESPECIALLY bless you for being so forthcoming in your own opinions about homosexuality.

The problem with the word homophobia is that it's an ugly word.  It's a kind of bigotry and most people don't like being accused of bigotry.  I understand that.

Now I'm about to piss several people off but well that's the kind of topic this is.

In my view, if you have ANY problem with homosexuality, whether it be questioning its morality, questioning whether homosexuals are entitled to equal protection under the law, opposing gay marriages, opposing gay teachers, then it's a sign of....problems with homosexuality.  

After all, we're all human and I think that there is not a single person in this entire world who can claim absolutely no prejudice about anything.

Also I think that there are degrees of all of this.

My younger brother is very uncomfortable around gay men.  But he recognizes it and he's working on it (he pretty much has to because most of his wife's best friends are gay men).  I really honor him for seeing in himself the prejudice and working to tackle it.  My father also has some attitudes that I consider homophobic.

Hell, most people I know have them.

It doesn't make them bad people.

My mother and I were talking about the difficulties of surmounting the problem of prejudice against gays due to the fact that one of the strongest underpinnings of it is in Christian religion.

I can't tell you how many people have tried to talk to me about hating the sin and loving the sinner.  Personally I think that is a crock and what people need to do is simply admit that on some level, to some degree, they have a problem with it.

Which is of course not to say that anyone who has "issues" wants to go out and tie some gay guy to a fence and beat him to death or that they would view such conduct with anything but absolute horror.

But like I said, there are degrees.

Maybe the word "homophobe" needs to be replaced with a term that is less likely to get people defensive and more likely to get people to take a good hard look at their own opinions and where they come from.

As for some of what I've read here, I don't understand how anyone can think homosexuality is a practice or a choice.  Why would anyone CHOOSE to be part of a group that is so pervasively discriminated against.  Homosexuality is no more a choice than being born with a penis or black skin.

It simply is.

Anyways, those are my views.  

Lil (donning her ecm generator)
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#11 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:32 AM

^^Lil... thank you for posting here.

Indeed, the term "homophobia" is problematic - as it shuts down avenues of dialogue and prejudges the opinions of those who disagree with the one using the term.

Fact - people can have a problem with homosexuality without being hateful/fearful of other people.  It is a legitimate perspective that deserves to be heard without namecalling - and in this case - the name being used dismisses the argument out of hand.

Even in your post - your position is that people who have problems with homosexuality need to "examine their position."  It presupposes that people who have problems with homosexuality have not done so.  Is presupposes that everyone who has critically looked at the issue must conclude that homosexuality "just is" and that there are no moral rights or wrongs involved.  It presupposes that people who critically look at the issue and come up with a conclusion other than your own are wrong.  

The label "homophobe" sums that presupposition up nicely.

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#12 Nikcara

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:42 AM

Well as far as how 'natural' homosexaulity is all sorts of animals from horses to fish have displayed homosexual behavior, sometimes refusing to mate at all with the opposite sex of their spieces and trying to mate with the same sex or doing mating ritual dances that are for the other gender.

That said, I am very pro-gay rights.  I don't believe in using the Bible or any other religious writings to justify thinking that there is anything wrong with gays - after all, they used to use the Bible to justify slavery pre-civil war and I have heard (only one person, but I'm sure she's not the only one - distinct minority though) that there is still nothing wrong with slavery, because they had slavery in the Bible.

I have also heard arguments that gay sex is 'dirty' without any real reason as to why.  If it's because it's sex with a man, then shouldn't all sex with men be dirty, even if it's a man and a woman?  Or if it's because it's anal sex, but there are many straight couples who like that too.

Generally, I define homophobia as anyone who does not wish to treat homosexuals completely equally with everyone else, just as I call anyone who doesn't want to treat blacks/hispanics/whatever as equals racists.  Personally I find it offensive if someone wants to have different laws for straight people, which brings up another point - church and state are seperate.  Therefore 'all men are created equal' should be put into practice a bit better.
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#13 Rov Judicata

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:46 AM

I think a lot of the people who oppose gay adoption, gay marriage, etc. are homophobic.

That being said, I don't think it works as an absolute; not all (or perhaps even most) are homophobic.

Are people who are pro-choice afraid of babies?
Are people who are anti-death penalty pro-criminal?
Are people who support giving condoms out in schools anti-abstinence?
Or, best of all: Are people who oppose the war anti-American?

That being said, I do see where Lil is coming from: If somebody supported, say, segregation of schools I'd most certainly call them a racist.

I just think it's an extremely murky issue.

<PS: I also find the statement that 'those most afraid/opposed to homosexuality really are homosexual!' asinine. I suppose Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell secretly get together on weekends...>
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#14 Bad Wolf

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:49 AM

Quote

It presupposes that people who have problems with homosexuality have not done so. Is presupposes that everyone who has critically looked at the issue must conclude that homosexuality "just is" and that there are no moral rights or wrongs involved. It presupposes that people who critically look at the issue and come up with a conclusion other than your own are wrong.

In this case you are right.  It presupposes all of these things.  Because in this case if you don't agree with me I think you *are* wrong.  That's the way I feel about it and I'm not ashamed to say so at all.

In my view there ARE no moral rights or wrong to sexuality.  It just is.  

QT, what if we substitute people of color for homosexuality.

What if I say something like "Oh yeah those people totally deserve to be equal under the law but I sure wouldn't want my daughter dating one."

Or, if you think it's a matter of choice, let's use religion instead.

"Oh yeah, Jews don't deserve any kind of persecution but I sure wouldn't want my daughter marrying one."

Would you agree that I have "issues" with people of color or Jews.

It wouldn't make me a Nazi or a card carrying member of the KKK but would not such attitudes demonstrate a degree of bigotry on my part?

Why is it different for homosexuals?

Because it's in the bible?  Because it's sexuality?  

These are questions, not an attack.

Lil (p.s., I would be less likely to come out of the shoot with a loaded word like homophobe if I hadn't been preemptively called a liar first.;))
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#15 rhuhne

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:55 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 11 2003, 09:50 AM, said:

I suppose Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell secretly get together on weekends...
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#16 sierraleone

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:56 AM

QueenTiye, on Jun 11 2003, 08:36 AM, said:

Even in your post - your position is that people who have problems with homosexuality need to "examine their position."  It presupposes that people who have problems with homosexuality have not done so.  Is presupposes that everyone who has critically looked at the issue must conclude that homosexuality "just is" and that there are no moral rights or wrongs involved.  It presupposes that people who critically look at the issue and come up with a conclusion other than your own are wrong.
Lil might have been talking about homosexuality, but I think people should examine all predujice feelings/opinions they have, and wonder where and how they got them. Not saying they are bad people or anything, everyone has their biases for good or bad. Its an exercise in finding out what shaped us into who we are, and trying to improve ourselves. I try to understand all people. Doesn't mean I agree with what they do/believe but it is much better than ignorance. I have biases against certain people, some biases which I probably still consider justified, but I try to examine them. To learn and understand and not be ignorant so hatred or fear or misunderstandings don't happen to a insurmountable degree. Of course, some peoples distance in going to understand the other side will not meet with the other sides, but try to keep up the dialog, and meet somewhere in the middle.
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#17 Jid

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:59 AM

I'm about to probably make you mad here, Lil, but...

Quote

As for some of what I've read here, I don't understand how anyone can think homosexuality is a practice or a choice. Why would anyone CHOOSE to be part of a group that is so pervasively discriminated against. Homosexuality is no more a choice than being born with a penis or black skin.

For the most part I agree, but I do not agree with this statement as being a blanket truth, by which all homosexuality is explained.  

I *have* personally met people for whom Homosexuality *was* a choice they made.

How do I know?  Well, I'll take the story of a man who once gave a talk on his own experiences as a homosexual.  He grew up as a homosexual, and was in homosexual relationships till his late 20's before he, in a somewhat ironic twist given how this kind of story is usually the other way around, couldn't ignore his heterosexual tendencies any longer, and is now married with several children.  

He speaks of it as a choice in the following way.  He simply gravitated towards where he initially felt safe, and that was in the arms of other men.

Hence why I simply can't agree with you that homosexuality just *is*, 100% of the times.  Cause I've personally met two people for whom it wasn't just a matter of them simply *being* homosexual.

In the case of the two people I've personally met who started out homosexual and later "went straight" - the only common thread was their similar childhoods.  (Abusive, not that I'm saying child abuse begets homosexuality. Again, for these two people, they both would say they simply went with where they felt safest at first)

That aside, I also know several people both online and in real life who just *knew*, from about the time of puberty or so, that they were just not attracted to the opposite sense in any way.  

In truth, homophobia is just an ugly word with about the worst etymology imaginable.  

I'll freely admit to being friends with both gay people, and people who are afraid/hateful of homosexuals in the worst way.  I'll also honestly admit that until I met and got to know some gay people, I wasn't sure what to think, having grown up a mite bit sheltered...

My own personal take: Everyone's lifestyle is their right, and I will never begrudge it of anyone.  The only thing in my own mind that I could really hold as an "objection" to the homosexual lifestyle (or whatever it's PC to call it, I'm not the greatest with synonyms here) is that it's just not right for me.  Personally, I find the thought of I myself having sex with a man to be kinda icky, simply because I don't find men attractive, but I don't see how two men who love each other are any "more wrong" than a man and a woman would be.

If that's enough to get me labelled a "homophobe" then, obviously, I'm out of date on what that particular term is supposed to mean.  

As for Christianity's take on homosexuality.... It depends on the Christian, really... but I'll get back to you on that, since I've already rambled on for quite some time.

#18 Bad Wolf

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:06 AM

Hi Jid.

Yeah I've talked to "reformed homosexuals" too.

I think it's a crock.  I think that these poor people have been so brainwashed and are so afraid of being who they are that they "reform".  I actually think it's criminal.:(

As to your friend talking about it as choice because of where he "gravitated", um, so I suppose I could say that I "choose" to be heterosexual because I "gravitate" towards men.

Needless to say, I think *that* is um, a crock too.  

What do you think causes that "gravitation"?

Lil

Edited by Una Salus Lillius, 12 June 2003 - 04:08 AM.

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#19 G1223

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:09 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 11 2003, 04:50 PM, said:

If somebody supported, say, segregation of schools I'd most certainly call them a racist.
I would ask what they are segragating for. if it's race then yes. If it's to remove violent dangerous students away from others that's another kettle of fish.

But for any dialog there is a disagreement.Maybe the disagreement is about degree. I am Prochoice I support the right of a woman to have all options open to her concerning her and reproduction. But I think a Minor needs either parental consent or a court ruling to get one is becasue of health and liability issues.

I support the death penalty because i understand that all through human histroy there are animals that walk on two legs who would murder in a heartbeat a innocent bystander just becasue they could. I do not want such an animal to get loose ever and people escape from prison from time to time.

As to Gay rights if we are talking about protection for assualts then they deserve nothing more than any of us get. but also they should not be kept from such protections.

I sometimes see the PC movement as wanting to give others rights at the lose of my own. That is why I set my heels in and favor ballot as means of hearing the peoples voice.

There are moral rights and wrongs in sexual manners otherwise why is rape wrong?
Sex with children?

  These are matters for debate that is why we have dialogs about homosexuality the act is between two consenting partners but not all of our society is comfortable with the topic they do not need to be locked away and quized by head shrinkers we need to see what their reservations are concerning.

Maybe they have a valid claim maybe not. So it's not nessicarily right to sterotype any person's behavior Pro or Con.
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#20 Jid

Jid

    Mad Prophet of Funk

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:14 AM

Well, honestly Lil, if someone brainwashed him, then it's the most subtle brainwashing job in history.

Not only was he openly gay, people supported him, and loved him for it, and didn't perpetually try to "save him" from his sexual orientation.

In his case, he "gravitated" because he literally feared women, as I recall.  His mother abused him as a child.  If that was your only real interaction of any significant substance with the opposite sex... I could see how he'd prefer to be around men all the time at first.

But, I guess the funny thing about going to college for him was that he discovered all women weren't bad, or something.  He wasn't entirely specific about why he changed his mind, but the decision to stop being a homosexual was his own.

If you choose to believe he was brainwashed, go ahead.  I'm just repeating what he says for himself. :)



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