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q”`Nt, Sea on Mustang Island i Available for private parties 17 0,9 Of t o Lnique European Charm 0 & At Illosphe re. I, Special Low Spring & Summer Rates rt Pets Welcome Pk te .6′ Port Aransas, TX 78373 1 cal/ for Rcservat ions ,,,f p e c:t4″ o cunineli 41, oplk%,, …44611. -,4,400 fir 10, Horse 0 Inn I 0 e t Kitchenettes-Cable TV 0 Or Pool 0#, t beside the Gulf of Mexico ,ai i , IC What a pile of contradictory crap. Homosexual preference, Barton says, is an abnormal conscious decision. Yet in the very next breath, he tells us that it’s the most primary personal characteristic. Now, which is it? Being gay is either something we choose or it’s a characteristic, like having brown eyes or blond hair or being lefthanded, which is what scientific evidence continues to show us. Unfortunately, all the science in the world is powerless in the face of evil men like Joe Barton, intent on advancing their personal ambitions by making the world hate people like me, preying on the fears, prejudices, and ignorance of people in order to get votes. Resisting homosexuals is “a battle,” says Barton. It is “a war.” To him, there is no distinction between gays and murderers. No doubt. The next time a group of kids from the Woodlands decides to drive down to Houston’s Montrose to kill a queer, Barton will decry the murder and never for a single second think that perhaps his words and his action, and those of his fellow demagogues, contributed to the violence. Where are our moral leaders while Barton is spreading his hate? Why are our church leaders letting.Barton get away with such divisive, damaging language? Unfortunately, Barton’s view too often has the tacit endorsement of institutionalized religion, specifically mainstream Christianity. Those church leaders who disagree are, like our politicians, too cowardly to speak out. They are willing to allow those who profess to know what God wants through their familiarity with the Bible have their way,”to control the agenda. Sadly, too many of us in the gay and lesbian community fall into their trap when we seek to justify our sexuality by citing chapter and verse of the Bible. It is not sufficient, it seems, to know in our hearts and in our minds that we are good, moral people. We have to find something to validate that which our conscience and our intellect tell us about ourselves, even if that something was written thousands of years ago by men who had about as much understanding of what God The folly of reaching into the Bible to justify ourselves is that in doing so, we give legitimacy to the Bible as a tool to be used against us, because for every John Shelby Spong who argues that the Biblical story about Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality, but rather the hospitality laws of the times, there are thousands of Jerry Falwells who argue just the opposite. It is a no-win game for us because we are playing by their rules, in their stadium, using their bats and balls and their umpires. If we are to have a chance of winning, we must insist that we use fair rules. We must insist that the rules be based on such principles as freedom, reason and tolerance. By rejecting their rules, we may never be able to convince the Vatican and the Protestant fundamentalists that we are not sinners, but we will be able to do something even more spectacular: convince ourselves that our humanity makes us good regardless of whom we sleep with. And, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, no forms, no constitutions, no law, no covenants, no churches, no Bibles, can ever take that away from us. Gay men and lesbians can never find freedom if we look to external approval instead of to our heads and hearts. Yes, we need laws to protect us, but laws can do little to protect people who do not show pride and respect for who and what they are. Mainstream religion expects us to find solace in the assurance that while it condemns what we do in bed, it loves us as human beings. Well, that isn’t good enough. We are who we are precisely because of what our nature pushes us to do and if they can’t accept that, they don’t accept us. We are human beings and that makes us sexual beings. There is no way around it and we should no more go around apologizing for that than heterosexuals do. One of the problems with us is that we let people define us by what they imagine that we do behind closed doors. And we allow them to define the language they use to talk about us. We let them get away with talking about “the homosexual lifestyle” without challenging them to tell us just what is the homosexual lifestyle. The fact is that there is no such thing. No more, anyway, than there is a left-handed lifestyle or a brown-eyed lifestyle or a Hispanic lifestyle. They continue defining the language and the rules because many of us find it easier and safer to stay in the closet and remain silent while the preachers of hatred and intolerance go unchallenged. And they continue because enlightened heterosexual people find it easier and safer and more convenient to let prophets of hatred and intolerance go unchallenged. And they continue because enlightened heterosexual people find it easier and safer and more convenient to let those prophets of bigotry have a free reign, because being accused of homosexuality or even being sympathetic towards gay people is the worst possible sin anyone can be accused of today. It is, indeed, the last remaining unforgivable sin. Much of that has to do with fear. People fear what they don’t know, and the fact is that many people still believe they don’t know any gay men or lesbians. A recent New York Times poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of those who said they know someone who is homosexual have a more accepting view of us. That is why it’s crucial that all of us stop hiding,in the cold comfort of the closet. If we are to stop the hatred, we must begin educating our families and co-workers. We must begin with our churches, schools and civic clubs and we must begin with our politicians. Unfortunately, many of us can never take those cautious first steps because we are still struggling to accept ourselves as whole human beings. Not long after my firing and re-hiring a year and a half ago for attempting to come out in my column, I received a letter from a man in California who said he was riding aboard a train in Alaska when he read the New York Times story about my being re-hired. “I suppose someone on the train might have noticed that I was crying but I didn’t care,” he wrote. “I was happy to relive the joy of having the courage to choose me.” Until more gay men and lesbians have the courage to choose themselves, we will have to live with the institutionalized intolerance and hatred in our political system and our society, and we will have to live with the willful indifference and even betrayal of those who call themselves our friends. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TM SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SOUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. 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