Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homosexuality In Highschool...And the Uncertain Path to Self-Acceptance

(UPDATE)...during the writing of this post the owner of the video took it down. Not surprising considering he was just a regular person posting a video that they liked. I'm sure they didn't expect all the attention they got. The video itself was made by Pastor Bobby Blakey of Compass Bible Church. If I find another source for the video I will update this post again. In the mean time I hope that there will be something positive to still be gained from this post as is.
(UPDATE 2)...mirrored version of the video re-added thanks to an anonymous benefactor. Thanks!

Sometimes I run across an article or a video that can push all my angry buttons. It's not an easy thing to do since I don't tend to be a person given to anger over all...but it happens. One of the sure ways to do this is to take advantage of a persons weakness's to keep them down. Especially, when I have some personal experience. Today, Towleroad posted a video attributed to WhiteThroneFilms about the moral danger of "Homosexuality In Highschool". In the video they showcase two young men convinced that their inborn sexuality is a sin to be repented of...and since they did it at the ripe old age of can other teens. What bothers me so much about this is that these are the same kids who daily email my husband and I everyday scared, on the edge, and lacking anyone to tell them they are ok just as they are. What bothers me is the hard road they will have to walk before they can acknowledge to themselves who they are, all done in the sake of wanting to be loved. And bothers me so much because, at the same age, I was them. I could not help but have an emotional reaction to what I saw. Check out the video after the break and maybe you will understand why this hits my emotional buttons.....

"High school.....After nearly a decade of working with students, there is clearly one issue that defines this generation.....homosexuality"

My rebuttal.....Bullshit.

First off...way to reduce an entire population of kids to the orientation of less than 10% of them...never mind the wrongness of the notion of reducing anyone down to their sexual orientation as their only important defining feature.

Secondly...I understand that this gentleman may have been in this particular form of "ministry" for nearly a decade but this same tired argument was used on me over twenty years ago and had doubtless been used on many before me. The notion that homosexuality is somehow a uniquely important danger to this generation is utterly false and born out of a mindlessly repeated playbook full of handy catchphrases that any kid born into an evangelical family knows like the back of their hand. In my day they were applied to my generation.

When I was 16-17 I was a part of a youth group at my Baptist church. One day, at one of the meetings the youth pastor...who I had an unconscious crush on....Pastor Jerry, gave a speech about homosexuality in which all the same talking points were given. There was also the addition of the handy hardware lesson where they take two male plugs and ram them together as if to show that two men are not designed to be sexually compatible. In the crowd of young men and women present was a boy older than me who liked "The Cure" and had one of those shaved on the side, long on top haircuts that kids into new wave music had then(yes I am dating myself). Now....I had never known this boy to be anything but a good guy, kind, and sincere in his faith...he just looked different from the rest of the crowd. There was nothing else to suggest to me that he was gay. Yet this conversation seemed utterly geared to him. In retrospect, perhaps he was having attractions that he was troubled by and talked about them with Jerry....and it is equally likely that one of the other kids had expressed "concern" about his music choices. Either way it was clear that the conversation had was using him as an example to all of us. There was discussion about The Cures lead singer, Robert Smith, ans his open admission about being bisexual(it was a big deal then...really). Then, followed a lengthy discussion about how homosexuality was a culterally accepted fad we had to stand strong against in order to be true to GOD....just like our anonymous video pastor does above. And in the end that young man who had been singled out vowed to give up listening to The Cure and recommit himself to his faith. I wish I knew where he was today. I would like to know if he actually was gay. It would be one of lifes little ironies if he was not.

the notion that the majority of high schoolers think that "If you don't accept homosexuality, you're not "in with whats happening today..."   Again....bullshit. I suppose all those gay teens that have been in the news lately for committing suicide did so because all their classmates accepted them too much then? Jamie Rodemeyer took his life becuase his classmates all loved him so much? Constance Mcmillan was humiliated after being sent to a fake prom becuase she was just so "in"? Larry King was shot by a fellow classmate because he was accepted? It's bullshit and bullshit born our of ignorance....sometimes willfull ignorance of the part of those who are too frightened by the notion of a homosexual to walk a mile in their shoes. AND....while attitudes are changing fastest among young people, what is happening has little to do with accepting a form of behavior than it does with accepting a human being who they just see as their friend.

All the arguments above...along with comments made by my parents at the time...were instrumental in why I fought my own orientation tooth and nail until I was emotionally unable to fight any longer. It was "temptation" and I had to fight it. If I didn't fight it, GOD didn't love me....I was not only a sinner, I was in rebellion. So I fought into my twenties...shoving any attraction I had down into the deepest recesses of my soul. At times, they would leak when the latest copy of a certain male underwear catalogue would come in the mail and I would resist even looking at the cover as if it could dam me just by being in the same room with it. But eventually I would break and it would mysteriously disappear for awhile. And when I was done, it was time for repentence...time to punish myself and swear it would never happen again...all the while believeing that I was nothing but a phoney and hate myself for not being strong enough or faithful enough. I would never say to myself that I was matter how much I may have acted on it in my fantasy world. As long as I could call it something else I could keep it from being true.

Obviously that strategy failed. But the night that Pastor Jerry was calling out the young man who visibly stood out to task because of his music choices and dressing habits....he was also speaking to me too. I wouldn't admit to myself that it was true  and even spoke out at the meeting against "the gay agenda" and other bullshit I had no experience or business talking about. But I was very vulnerable because I wanted to be good...I wanted to be accepted...I wanted to do the right thing. So when I began to admit to myself that I was gay, Pastor Jerry's words from that night came back  to haunt me. I knew that what I was meant I should be ashamed, that I could not be a christian if I followed this path...even though the same church also teaches that once you accept Christ, NOTHING can take that away.

It was years of fighting myself and being ashamed before I got up the courage to look for myself at what was so wrong with being gay. I needed to know why it was bad because I was having no success making it go away no matter how hard or sincerely I prayed. In the end I left the church precisely because I could not reconcile the faith I was raised in with my new awareness of myself. It took many years of exploration and finding out what gay was and was not and undoing all the misinformation and lies that I had been fed to me by people who didn't know any better themselves. Now...I did come back to my faith much later on in life...but not to a church and I chose to out of gratitude for an amazing life that I could be nothing but gratefull for. I would never have gotten to that place had I not stepped away long enough to separate myself from B.S. like this video teaches. Had I not, I might have ended up in a broken marriage or an eventual suicide...or both. Thats what self hate and shame can drive us to and when I hear stories about gay teens who commit suicide I know that it could dam well have been my fate too had things been just the tiniest bit different.

So pushes my buttons when I hear these same arguments still being made to kids as if the world has not changed at all. Tyler and Patrick are a snapshot of me at the same age....right down to the way they speak. Tyler says that his friends were pushing him to think he was gay...perhaps they were just more able to accept him than he was himself. I've been there.

What I want to say to our video pastor is: "Stop doing this to these kids! They hear your message and only judge themselves. Learn what it means to be gay before you utter one word against it. All you are doing is repeating ignorance. You may be doing it from your own ignorance with no intention to hurt may be doing it for faith....You might be doing it to hide from your own homosexuality...but in the end, everything you are telling these kids is only driving them away from love and into the hands of despair. If GOD is love and he loves everyone, please explain to me why the love between two men or two women is less than? It's still just love...there are no subjective values to love. I KNOW that I have felt true, honest, selfless love for my one can take that truth away. So again, explain to me....If GOD is love, how is this love different? And if it isn't different than perhaps we are not understanding those bible versus we are so fond of cherry picking to condemn people we don't understand....especially when that someone we condemn is ourselves.

Tyler and Patrick are gay. Their decision to deny that will not change it and that means it may be years of struggle and emotional struggle for them...if they survive. Where is the love in that? As they walk the path of trying to be who they think they need to be in order to be loved and accepted, I wonder if they will still see my footprints on the road or if time will have washed them away. If they are gone see them boys...follow your hearts...they will lead you home.

Until next time dear readers.


  1. This stuff hits my emotional buttons every day. I come across stuff like this all the time. It is so overwhelming to refute. It becomes exhausting.

  2. Hm. I saw the video yesterday, but it now says "video removed by user". Well then. :)

    I have had close to the exact same experience you write about here. Right down to having an unconscious crush on the youth leader (in my case a woman (like myself)). And I'm the generation between yours, and today's teens. I'm currently working in therapy on the internalized homophobia that I don't even consciously know is there. Every time it comes up, it takes me by surprise and it's like, wow, no wonder I have trouble with depression and such. The video made me sad/mad. Grr. When will it ever end.

  3. You know I have always found it interesting how the Bible is so misinterpreted to be anti=LGBT. What's worse are those that act very un-Christian in their expression of these false versions.

    So allow me to take a lovely quote from one of the very books used to denounce us.

    "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD."

    -Leviticus 19:18

    Maybe they need to know their own word before they begin preaching. They may discover that what they think and what is are two different things.

    Love above all else is the true message, regardless of religion. If we we can not master that then this world is merely fuel for a dark fire that will burn all that it touches.

    We should love; love life, others, and ourselves just as we are in our many splendid variations and expressions. Because anything else is anger, fear, even vanity.

    Our history is littered with such expressions and we often refer to them as dark times. So lets choose to be honest and just love maybe we will find peace and brotherhood to be more rewarding than hate and intolerance.

    Go figure "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."

    Thank you Bryan for a good empassioned piece.

  4. The video was reposted here..

  5. I can't even get past the intro on videos Like this without being to angry and upset to watch the rest. I remember being being like that (like you Bryan) and I know and am starting to see how the "skills" of repression of fellings (most any "non manly" emotion and my attractions) has done me damage, as well as the deep seated self hatred etc. That now ads an extra layer of complication to My already messed up mental health. Only now that I'm in therapy to help treat and control my bipolar is it that any of this other junk is getting taken care of.

  6. I'm really sorry to hear that your faith got in the way of being true to yourself.

    Religion has some seriously messed up practices and beliefs.

    Fortunately I had a few things happen in my life that opened my eyes to the ultimate knowledge that the vast part of religion is bovine effluent. The first was the death of my mom when I was 13. How could any God allow such a woman to die so young?

    Then there was my schooling. In Catholic schools no less. My my sophomore year one of the things we did was read, analyze and discuss the Bible in a regular class.

    Talk about getting ones eyes opened. When one reads the entire text and not just twisted interpretations of selected passages a new story emerges. One in which it's highly likely you come out of it not believing any more.

    I highly suggest reading the whole text if you get the opportunity. Not only do you get an eye opening experience, you get ammunition to refute the bigotry that exists out there.

  7. The pastor's name is Bobby Blakey. His Twitter account is @bobbyblakey Everyone should let him know how they feel about this video. What he's doing is just sickening. Shame on you Bobby Blakey.

  8. Another wonderful piece, Bryan. Thank you for sharing yourself so generously with us. There are a few points where I disagree. In a way, I do think that homosexuality is the issue that defines this generation--it's the civil rights issue of our time and it's being embraced by a growing number of straight allies. I also believe that there are a growing number of places where acceptance rather than fear is the more "happening" position. Not that there isn't a long way to go, but I believe that the tipping point has been reached. Blakely and Co. see the tide turning and it scares the bejeezus out of them. The voices speaking against homosexuality have always been there and will continue to use the same specious arguments they always have. I'm just glad that there are an increasing number of voices sharing a different message so that fewer kids feel the same alienation and shame that you did. You and Jay are two of the finest voices to emerge. Keep up the great work!

  9. Damn this video got me angry. This is just a video of a man lying to my face about homosexuality and telling mistruths about a part of me that I know and he never could, and two young guys who are going to be full of regret in their future (if they have one) about the years of repression they are about to go through. This pastor pretty much acknowledges the trend in the decline in christian beliefs in the younger generation, and that makes this whole video come across as a desperate rallying cry to the older generation to force their beliefs on the younger generation before it is too late. Pathetic.

  10. This is my community. We know one of the kids in the video. I am so enraged and saddened that this youth pastor is using his position to poison the minds and hearts of the very children he is supposed to love & protect. Shame on him. I have a wonderful, talented, brave gay son who is never afraid to be exactly who he is. He is so accepted at his high school that he was just recently was nominated to Homecoming Court. Life is great for him. How terrible that on the eveing of spirit day, as he's sitting in his "Don't be H8ting on the Homos" purple shirt, he had to view this heinous video. I cried the minute I began watching this.

    I am terrified that this pastor will continue to damage our LGBT AND straight youth.

  11. @CBondBauman Wow...your comment blew me away. but I have to say that I don't lay blame at Pastor Blakey. I don't think he gets out of bed every morning and says, "I think I'll going ruin kids lives today" before he grabs his coffee cup and heads out the door. He is repeating what was repeated to him and that is evident to me by the fact that EVERYTHING he said...verbatim...was also said to me by a youth pastor. I don't think attacking the man is helpfull as much as educating about the message and the truth of gay people.....just my two cents.

    @Whitmansspider I wish I could believe that Whitman but kids keep killing themselves because of how their classmates treat them.

    and pastors have been calling homosexuality the "defining characteristic of this generation" since before I was born :p

  12. I have written about this because this is in my city, it appalls me.

    Here is a couple of rebuttals from our community. I hope you like them.,-it-can-lead-to-GLBT-Suicides-

  13. Still a copy at but no idea how long it will be there....

    So sad that in 2011 they are still trying to promote this sort of thinking. No wonder there is still a problem with LGBT bullying and suicide.

  14. Well-said, well-written. You've a strong and compelling voice, Mr. Leffew. I'm enjoying these blogs much.