Thursday, March 15, 2018


The first time I heard the word homophobia I felt misunderstood and mocked. After all, I was not afraid of homosexuals or homosexuality. As a devout and fervent Latter-day Saint, being opposed to homosexuality was part of being a good team player and a matter of my religious faith.

I was oblivious to homosexuality. It was never pointed out to me, and I had no gaydar. Gradually as I observed people as an adult and a father, it began to dawn on me that some people really were afraid of homosexuality. The first dawning came to me like this, "Homophobia is the fear that I or my sons may in fact be gay."

Once I crystallized this idea, I began to notice how it might underpin a lot of what I call machismo or hypermasculinity. If I feared their possibly being gay, I might have made different choices about parenting my sons. I also might have felt shame or fear when they did not run, bat, or throw with the poise of an olympic athlete. I might have in turn shamed and belittled them. I began to feel profoundly grateful for my parents, grandparents, and church family for giving me this inheritance of love and acceptance.

Eventually I learned that I had close relatives who fancy their same gender. My religious journey took me into congregations where I could see more openly new varieties of experience. And these words from Pinocchio began to ring long and deep in my heart: "Fate is kind. She brings, to those who love, the sweet fulfillment of their secret longings." And I could no longer be comfortable asking any gay person to do what I did not have to do.

I still believed fervently in family--in mother and father. And my new understanding made me even more passionate that gays not be pushed into facades, roles, and marriages that did not fit them.

Many years later, one morning I awoke from a dream of a sweet intimate moment with a fictitious woman. And it occurred to me, as I lay pondering its wonder, that there might be some people who have such dreams about their same gender. And, oh!, what a fracture it must create in their lives if those dreams violated everything they were taught and believed to be real. What a fracture if they must deny those dreams, and hate them, and fear them.

I am in awe of the amount of gentleness we have yet to learn toward each other and ourselves.

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