One of the bloggers that I love to read is Rod Dreher. While we share some similarities politically, we are on different sides of the same-sex marriage issue. Rod has written a number of posts on what he sees as the coming troubles facing social conservatives as the opinion on gay marriage changes. I decided to comment on a recent blog post. One of the things he is bothered by is the meanness on the pro-SSM towards social conservatives. While I agree that there has been a lot of spiking the ball on our side, I thought Rod needs to understand where some of that anger comes from and it doesn’t come from nowhere.
Before I share the response, I want to add that I do appreciate Rod. He is one of the most honest people I know striving to honor God in the best way he can. He has helped me see that not all social conservatives are horrible monsters. So, while I am offering a bit of pushback here, I don’t do it out of anger. I just want to him (and others) to understand a little about our side and what might be fueling the anger.
Part of the issue that needs to be addressed is the bitterness that many in the gay rights community has towards social conservatives. A lot of this comes from the pain we have experienced from people who were religious and yet treated their sisters and brothers with cruelty. One of the things that Ross Douthat shared in his Sunday column is the abuse LGBT folk have suffered in the past. I think it is important for social cons to at least admit that some of this vitriol is a knee-jerk response to some of the things we have faced.
The other issue that is a problem is how social conservatives are viewed by the larger society. When I was coming out in the 90s, the image I saw was Pat Buchanan venting at the 1992 GOP Convention in Houston. The image most gays and allies have of social conservatives is one of hateful people bent on destroying LGBT people. It’s not a true image, but it’s there. My view of social conservatives have changed for two reasons: one I take the call from Jesus to love our enemies seriously. Second, I’ve met many social conservatives and see that they don’t have five heads and eat gay babies. Because American society is so fragmented with like-minded folk clustering together, most gay folk have never encountered a social conservative and see them as complex beings instead of caritactures. And because we don’t know you, hence the hostility.
I don’t know what the answer is. I have used my blog to express that social conservatives are not all monsters, but I have also got pushback from people who write me talking about the pain they have faced and how it makes no sense to show mercy. The negative image of social conservatives is ingrained in many gay people and their allies and that is what keeps them from showing and sense of forgiveness and love. Gay people can and should speak up and maybe even seek out social conservatives and befriend them (somthing I’ve tried to do). But I think the only way this is going to change is when social conservatives themselves reach out and be Christ to gay people. When gay people can see that social conservatives are people, things will change. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but realize that a lot of the anger is warranted. Trust has been broken. LGBT people like myself can and should reach out, but until gays and trust social conservatives such hostility will continue, even if it is not right.