I learned this week that I have no patience for people who are anti-homosexual.  Part of the issue is that I just don’t get it.  I just don’t understand why one person would have such strong feelings as to be “anti-” two women or two men being in a loving, sexual relationship.  Why all the hating of loving relationships, people?

I had a conversation with someone who I respect in many ways who we’ll call L, who actually used the phrase, “Some of my best friends are homosexuals.”  And I was thrown back to a time when white people used the same phrase about black people, when in fact they probably only new one black person who went to their church.  I refrained from asking for a list of L’s homosexual friends so I could call and check up on their supposed friendship.  Her opinion of gay people went downhill from there, and I am going to refrain from re-stating her bigoted, hateful words on my blog space out of moral outrage.

Because many of my friends actually are gay.  Those who aren’t have generally gone through a process of actively figuring out their sexual orientation, and I think that’s healthy.

I was talking with a friend last night about a man who had married a woman before he fully acknowledged the fact that he was gay.  Now the couple are divorced – and I know of other men who have ended up in similar situations.  Or even more regrettable, the men who stay married despite being gay.

So I think it’s healthy for young men and women to attend to their sexual orientation.  For example, a man I know assumed he was straight, but when the opportunity to date a gay man presented itself to him, he decided to expand his understanding of his sexuality rather than close it down.  He went on a few dates, realized he really had no serious sexual attraction to men, and ended the dating relationship.  He’s married now too, and no one has to worry about whether he’s going to suddenly come out of the closet one day.

So I realized during my conversation with L that I’m not sure I had ever actually had a conversation with someone about homosexuality who was actually opposed to it in a general sense.  Because L is someone who, as I said, I respect in many ways and need to continue to work with, I changed the subject.  Now I am trying to grapple with how to react.

Do I draw a hard line on this and refuse to work with L?  Do I try and arrange the situation so that we don’t talk about this topic again?

I think homosexual sexuality and relationships have just as much chance of being emotionally and spiritually healthy as heterosexual sexuality and relationships, and nothing is going to budge me from that place.  I suspect L’s position is similarly stationary.

So given that we will not agree on this point, but that L has the potential to be a powerful ally in many areas, what should I do?  To what degree should her position on homosexuality be a deal-breaker for our working relationship?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I find it so ironic how similar the issue of homosexuality and ‘civil rights’ are. I mean, really, it drives me nuts how people think they have the moral high ground when blatantly condemning homosexuality. It is no different than saying that African Americans are a lesser people. And yet the Bible somehow gives people the right to condemn people. I really wish that those Christians who have such a beef with gay people would take to heart the passage about removing the plank from their own eye before trying to remove the speck from their brother’s. Or the fact that polyester and pig skin are outlawed if we follow the Bible….I could go on, but I am sure everyone has heard these arguments…

  2. Thanks for chiming in, JustAnotherTeen. As always, I am so delighted to have your voice and perspective here.

  3. Many years ago the following thoughts came up out of me. Many people may not agree with me.

    People who are repelled by having sex and a love relationship with a person of the same sex don’t like their own bodies or selves as female or male. Being homophobic means a person hates themselves and their body.

    For me the idea of having sex and a love relationship with a person of the same sex is honoring, glorifying, respecting, and accepting my own self and body.

    Do you understand what I”m trying to say? I’ve never really expressed this idea more than a couple of times. It feels risky to say it so publically.


  4. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts, Pythia. I very much understand what you are saying.

  5. So you’re asking whether or not you should use L? I’d suggest you not compromise your own morals just to gain a “powerful ally”.

    Look how far it got Barack Obama? He used Pastor Wright to get ahead in politics, but it came back to bite him in the rear end. Now, he has to answer for every bigoted thing said in that church.

    If you decide to use this person you hate just to advance your career, you might do well to watch your rear end.

  6. Bob, I essentially agree with you. I will probably choose not to work with her in the future. But it makes me sad that this powerful, well respected person has such a horrible belief about this subject matter. So I want the situation to be different, even thought I know that it’s not.

    And for the record, I certainly don’t hate L. L is enjoyable to spend time with and can hold up the end of a delightful conversation. But L does have a strongly reprehensible belief that goes directly against what I stand for professionally. And that will mean, in the end, that I can’t stand with L professionally.

  7. I think opposition to homosexuality is 30% people going to churches where homophobic messages are preached (and hate the sin, love the sinner is homophobic, too, though an improvement over hate the sinner), and 70% generational. It wasn’t that long ago that the purpose of marriage was thought to be more for childrearing than for love, and a lot of people cling to their grandparents’ ideas.

    Well, and there are other things too, like the dominator society mentality Riane Eisler mentions. But I won’t go into that now.

    I guess it depends on how closely you have to work with L.

  8. You can have a wonderful working relationship with this person. Just let L know that you cannot be detered from your open minded life. Let L know that you can have a productive working relationship and that this subject causes undesireable conflict.

  9. Hi Karen. I can certainly understand your dilemma. I think if you are serious about having a working relationship with L then the two of you need to have an understanding of where each other boundaries are. I think the two of you have a lot to learn from each other provided you can keep a solid understanding that neither of you will change the other. I think if you two can keep your condemnations of each others beliefs from getting in the way, you can form a very powerful relationship.

    I run into people with the same beliefs as L regularly. I find that many of them see having gay or lesbian friends as somewhat of a novelty and have a difficult time taking it to be a serious lifestyle. I think being humans (forget sexual orientation), it is up to us to teach tolerance and acceptance of different lifestyles to each other. I think it is important that we turn towards each other rather than away because of philosophical differences.

  10. Thanks, Jairy. I think this is a really important point as well. As sexuality educators, we cannot wall ourselves off from the people we disagree with – rather, we need to find and benefit from the common ground where we can truly work together. I just find that I am so divided on this issue.

  11. I would really hope you wouldn’t cut L off completely because you are so far apart on this one issue. As Jairy says, the two of you can learn from each other. You can “agree to disagree” about this subject and be respectful of each other where you have common ground.

    I basically agree with what Pythia said, “People who are repelled by having sex and a love relationship with a person of the same sex don’t like their own bodies or selves as female or male. Being homophobic means a person hates themselves and their body.” Hate is such a strong emotion, and so destructive! And, when we fear and loathe parts of ourselves, we do hate all the more those people outside us who reflect what we cannot accept. Also, the religious programming that goes along with homophobia is deeply rooted in some people’s psyches … very hard to dislodge.

    One reason to stay in touch with this person, and remain an ally, is that you can be there for the hopeful future when she is able to more thoughtfully look at her own sexuality and realize her judgment wasn’t helpful, useful. People change. We can love them through their changes.

  12. I agree with Ruth. You and L disagree – dramatically – on one main issue. You are not compromising your morals or ethics if you work with her on the issues where you do agree.

    I see anti-gay bigotry is much less pronounced in the younger generation. Still there, but much less pronounced. Maybe in 40 years we will have an openly gay or lesbian president.

    One minor quibble – but it’s a happy quibble. You state you friend “is married now”, and it’s clear from the context you mean he is married to a woman. But – hooray! – we can’t make that assumption in the US anymore.

  13. I’m late comment on this, but in my experience it simply does little or nothing to try to change bigots. They stay bigots. Better to use your time persuading more open-minded fence sitters than the genuine bigot.

  14. I do understand why you would find it difficult to work with someone with views like this. But if you cut yourself off from her and everyone with similar views there’s absolutely no chance that they will change their minds. It may be an insecurity, it may be ignorance, or it may indeed be just plain bigotry. In the first two cases, there’s at least a chance of change.

    Perhaps more importantly, by staying in touch you have the opportunity to try to find out just why she has these views. I share your puzzlement at why people are against some types of loving relationships – and it’s made harder by the fact that people often conceal their prejudices to some extent. So if someone is willing to talk about why they have this view, it’s perhaps a useful opportunity of at coming to understand it, and thus learn to combat, this kind of attitude.

  15. I know it’s hard, I was raised in a christian home, I mean hardcore christian. To my parents Sex, doesn’t exist until you are married. And being gay is a huge crime against God. They came after me and yelled at me and had everyone I knew and people I even didn’t know, message me, preach at me and what not when I said I am bisexual. I had never felt so alone in my life I told them after that I was atheist as well. So for two years now going on three every girl I hangout with they ask if I’m dating them. My best friend comes to stay the night, when she leaves they ask if we had sex. They look at me weird and treat me like I’m an alien. They said I chose this and God hates me for it. They had me hating myself wanting to never live again because of these feelings I had for other girls. I was just about ready to pull the trigger on myself so to say. When my counselor called me in to her office. She smiled and had me sit down. She told me that she knew that I wasn’t going through the greatest time. Apparently it was about to get worst. My parents called my teachers and counselor to try talk some sense into me and turn me straight. The ones that trust me and loved me told them to piss off including my counselor. She told me it’s ok that I feel the way I feel around other girls. She said that there are people who love me the way I am, even though the people I want to love me don’t act like it anymore. So I know it’s hard, I am still fighting for my beliefs that are constantly being challenged. I would try to talk to the person and if they understand how you feel on the subject then maybe you two can never bring it up again and do other things and talk about other stuff out of respect for one another. If they truly respect you and care for you and you to them, then a simple conversation on how you feel about homosexuality might be the solution. Just relax when she starts talking about how she believes. take a deep breath and just ask that if she could not bring it up, because you both have different opinions and they aren’t going to change. I tried this with my parents who ignored every word that came out of my mouth. But they are conservative christian and well, my parents Maybe you will have better luck.

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