My Brother, Our Relatives,
and Our Mutual Friends:
long ago you received an e-mail forwarded by my brother (if you
don't remember it I've included the text of that message at the
end of this letter). I received that e-mail, too. I don't know
if I received it in error (was I left on my brother's distribution
list by mistake?) or if my brother intended to provoke me.
read plenty of denunciations of homosexuality. This one was neither
original nor especially "convincing." Furthermore, I believe it
is bogus; I can't imagine ABC Television responding in such a nonprofessional
manner. But let me move from the abstract to the personal. I want
you to put a face on homosexuality: my face. I'm gay.
did not choose to be gay any more than I chose to contract polio
as an infant. Both chose me. As a child I endured years of shame
and self-hatred because I was a cripple. When I became a teenager
I discovered another reason to be ashamed. I discovered I was gay.
That's when I learned I was a homo, a faggot, a queerall of
them terrible labels, frightening categories.
my adolescence, when I harbored that awful secret, I hoped I might
outgrow my feelings, but I didn't. I believed that I was doomed
to misery in this life and damnation in the next. I prayed to God,
buy my prayers weren't answered. I was still gay and utterly alone.
had learned my biblical lessons well. Have
any of you grown up thinking you should die because you were an
abomination in the eyes of God and men?
the age of nineteen I came close to ending my life one night by
driving down the streets of my hometown at 90 mph, headed for a
cliff. My desperate attempt to stop my pain ended with the realization
that I was endangering other people's lives and by the knowledge
that my parents would never understand why I killed myself. Do you
know that gay teen suicide is two to three times that of the general
any of you had to justify your existence? Search your soul for redemption?
Find a reason to live? I believe messages like the one my brother
forwarded reinforce destructive self-loathing for some of us, while
they teach others of us to be judgmental, then to be intolerant,
and ultimately to hate. In that way we all lose.
am convinced that hate speech bears concrete results. I believe
that messages like the one my brother sent are responsible for me
getting hit in the head and being called a communist at a Chicago
Gay Pride Parade in the 1970s.
believe messages like my brother's are responsible for something
I witnessed one night in the 1980's, when I watched in horror and
fear as three assailants hit a gay man repeatedly with a pipe in
the head, neck, shoulders, and back; I tried to rescue him in my
car but a passerby got to him first.
believe messages like the one my brother sent are responsible for
fueling the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.
kind of thinking behind that message is responsible for gay youth
and adults being ejected from their families. It is responsible
for gay people living half-lives within their families, the likes
of which I've experienced. I've not been able to share with my family
the joy of being in love. I've not been able to ask for consolation
when love was lost. No one cared to inquire, no one wanted to know.
would anyone in his right mind choose to be gay in a society
where the price is such heartache; to be rejected by family, friends,
professional associates, social and legal institutions, to be an
outcast in one's own life and in some cases face death, like Matthew
a gay man with a disability has doubled my pain, yet I have no regrets
about being gay. What I do regret is a world filled with so much
intolerance and ignorance, a world ready to act on the hate it fosters.
I want to live a life based on integrity, honor, compassion and
love, just like you. All I've ever wanted was a loving family, loving
friends, a man to love and a man to love me.
next time you hear about a gay-bashing or read about the murder
of a gay man, I want you to put my face on the victim. Will you
feel, "Good, he got what he deserved"? Will you think, "Good, the
world is a better place without him"?
yourself hitting me with a pipe and breaking my nose.
next time you hear a joke (or make one) about "limp-wrists," remember
that it's my limp wrist you're talking about. Is it still so funny?
years ago my brother demanded I adhere to a Don't Ask, Don't Tell
policy. Because of his demands I allowed myself to be held hostage
in tacit consent by the love and need I have for family. But he
broke his own rule when he forwarded that e-mail to me. His message
arrived like a brick through my window, but it has set me free.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell has ended.
should it matter who I love? Isn't loving the important thing?
Friend and Your Brother
Here is the text of the message
my brother forwarded to us.
READ. If more of us took a stand maybe we could have some decent
TV programs. Jim Neugent is a coach in Childress, Texas.
Jim writes: My name is Jim Neugent.
I wrote to ABC (on-line) concerning a program called "The Practice."
In last night's episode, one of the lawyer's mothers decided she
is gay and wanted her son to go to court and help her get a marriage
license so she could marry her "partner" !
I sent the following letter
to ABC yesterday and really did not expect a reply, but I did get
one. My original message was: ABC is obsessed (or should I say abscessed)
with the subject of homosexuality. I will no longer watch any of
your attempts to convince the world that homosexuality is OK. "The
Practice" can be a fairly good show, but last night's program
was so typical of your agenda. You picked the "dufus"
of the office to be the one who was against the idea of his mother
being gay and made him look like a whiner because he had convictions.
This type of mentality calls
people like me a "gay basher." Read the first chapter of Romans
(that's in the Bible) and see what the apostle Paul had to say about
it.... He, God, and Jesus were all 'gay bashers'. What if she'd
fallen in love with her cocker spaniel? Is that an alternative lifestyle?
(By the way, the Bible speaks against that, too.) -Jim Neugent
Here is ABC's reply from the
ABC on-line webmaster: How about getting your nose out of the Bible
(which is ONLY a book of stories compiled by MANY different writers
hundreds of years ago) and read the Declaration of Independence
(what our nation is built on), where it says "All men are created
equal," and try treating them that way for a change!
Or better yet, try thinking
for yourself and stop using an archaic book of stories as your lame
crutch for your existence. You are in a minority in this country
and your boycott will not affect us or our freedom of statement.
Jim Neugent's second response
to ABC: Thanks for your reply. From your harsh reply, evidently
I hit a nerve. I will share it with all with whom I come in contact.
Hopefully, the Arkansas Democrat Newspaper will include it in one
of their columns and I will be praying for you. --Jim Neugent
Note: Wouldn't Satan just love
it if people stopped using the Bible for a crutch? Please re-send
this to everyone in your mailbox. --Thanks, Jim Neugent. I wonder
if the person from ABC considered how many people would read this
e-mail! This is one we should definitely pass on.
© 2004 BENT on
behalf of "A Brother"
"Cain and Abel," Gustave Doré. Illustration © 2004
Mark McBeth, IDEA | MONGER
Editor's Note: Although
BENT is reluctant to publish unsigned pieces, the significance
of this letter outweighed, in our opinion, any objections raised
by its anonymity.
Let us know
what you think of this BENT feature.
BENT: A Journal of CripGay