Unfounded homophobia hinders self-realizationBecause of...

the Forum

February 15, 1993

Unfounded homophobia hinders self-realization

Because of all the static raised since President Clinton promised to lift the ban on gays in the military, I would like to illuminate some points that I learned doing research on the subject of homophobia.

We know that homophobia is an irrational fear and hatred of those who love persons of the same sex. It is an oppression as violent as racism, sexism or anti-Semitism.

It calls up images of loss of freedom, verbal and physical violence. It causes rejection by friends, threats or loss of employment, loss of children, beatings, rape, sometimes loss of life.

There are two ideas that fuel homophobia: that homosexuality is either abnormal (sick) or immoral (sinful).

The American Psychological Association has said that to be homosexual is no more abnormal than to be left-handed.

As for being immoral, Dr. Virginia Mollenkott, in an essay in Christianity and Crisis (Nov. 9, 1987), stated that discrimination against homosexuals stems from a misreading of the Bible.

Many English translations of the Bible contain the word "homosexual" in negative contexts, but the fact is that the word homosexual does not occur anywhere in the original writings.

The term itself was not developed in any language until the 1890s. Also, there is not a single reference by Jesus to alleged homosexuality. (However, he made several hundred references to money and the necessity for a just distribution of wealth).

There are many theories about why some of us are heterosexual and some of us are homosexual; for example, genetic makeup, hormones, socialization, environment. There is no conclusive evidence that heterosexual identity comes from one process and homosexuality from another.

There seems rather to be evidence that sexuality has a wide range, on a continuum from totally homosexual, through bi-sexual, to totally heterosexual, with infinite variations in between.

What kind of world might we imagine without imposed gender roles? Kids wouldn't be called sissies or tomboys; they'd just be themselves, able to do what they wished.

People would be able to love anyone, regardless of gender. People would no longer fear showing affection to someone of the same sex.

Women would be able to work at any job without being labeled masculine; men would be able to do the same and not be called effeminate.

It seems logical that there might also be a great deal less violence if men no longer had to "prove their manhood." There might, in short, be the chance for people to live out their potentials and be themselves.

If for some reason we cannot love all our fellow human beings, we can at least show tolerance for all. We will all benefit in the end.

Agnes (Mac) McAvinue

Baltimore

Moral laws are relative over time

Our society makes much of being moral and of using morality as a guide of our actions. Yet, when we look at some of these actions in hindsight, the righteousness often pales.

Consider the Salem witch trials, the slave trade or the policy toward American Indians, which all were thought to be morally acceptable in their time.

What is immoral today may have been acceptable a century ago; what is moral in an aboriginal culture may be immoral in a civilized culture.

"Moral law is ever changing -- at one period in the development of the human race almost everybody thought cannibalism was a duty," said Bertrand Russell.

There is a tendency to link morality to the predominant religion or a culture. The presiding religious leaders -- witch doctors, priests, rabbis, lamas or what have you -- set and interpert "the moral law."

John Dewey said, "Morals is not a catalog of acts nor a set of rules to be applied like a drugstore prescription or cook-book recipe."

So are we to act however we darn well please? Of course not. We must be ever cognizant of our fellow travelers on this planet, of their rights and feelings, and we must endeavor to better our relationship with our environment.

Immanuel Kant said: "Act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of another, as an end withal, never as a means only."

J. Bernard Hihn

Baltimore

How to cut

Increasing taxes will produce no meaningful results unless we reduce spending. There are dozens of ways to reduce the national debt and deficit.

Since Uncle Sam is drowning in red ink, we have to reduce the investment in space exploration. Example: $30 million to install a toilet in the space shuttle.

We could save billions of dollars by creating a central office in order to prevent duplication of spending by various branches of the military service.

Our federal government owns about 30 percent of the land in this nation. By the sale of a significant portion of this real estate the debt would be reduced.

The IRS can't collect the taxes owed by thousands of people. Perhaps we ought to privatize the IRS by hiring a top-notch accounting firms.

In the big cities the population explosion among the "Les Miserables" is getting out of control. Inertia on our part will cost us a fortune that we can't afford.

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