Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
Last week, in the article titled “Students react to Chick-fil-A’s presence in Revolve,” the president of the Young Conservatives of Texas, Isaiah Mitchell, quoted the age-old phrase used by many Christians to rationalize the existence of the LGBTQIA+ community by saying “you’re supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin.” As a gay man, there is no other sentence in the English language that I loathe more. I used to be indifferent to the saying; I used to be complicit with other people’s homophobia, but as I have come into my sexuality more and have spent time around incredible queer people, I have developed a greater intolerance to ‘rationale’ such as this.
I’m very grateful and privileged to have avoided violent acts of homophobia and harsh rejection from my family and friends since I came out; however, I have been seen as weak and too feminine to really be a man, and I have even had the very phrase I’m writing about said to my face on multiple occasions. Like I said, I was accustomed with this type of rationale. I thought that as long as people accepted me for who I was, everything was fine by me. Now, I realized that my own logic was faulty because I ignored my well being in a desperate search for acceptance.
You see, you cannot simply “love the sinner, hate the sin.” The phrase is a Band-Aid trying to cover a gaping wound of internalized homophobia. This issue is much akin to when people in the United States told the LGBTQIA+ community, “You have marriage equality, what more do you want?” As if marriage was the pinnacle of societal equality and by that logic, homophobia vanquished. The issue with “love the sinner, hate the sin” is that it’s a saying that allows people to voice what they’re thinking without being outright cruel which is, “I see you and love you … but not as a whole person.”
We in the LGBTQIA+ community cannot separate our “sin” from ourselves more so than a person of color can separate their skin color from their body. It’s impossible because we were born like this; it’s been a part of our entire person since birth. To say that our personhood should be split because we have a “sinful” part of us that tells us who we love is unimaginable to me.
And it’s not so much that I have a problem with the phrase itself, but rather who it usually addresses. I understand that many religions — specifically Christianity — view different ideas as sinful, the most obvious being the seven deadly sins, but we can separate those sins from the person like a malady that afflicts the soul. My sexuality isn’t a sickness that necessitates purging it from my person, try as conversion ‘therapists’ might if they had the chance. My sexuality is who I am, and I love that it’s a part of me. I feel like my journey through this life would be rather dull without that “flair,” as some might call it.
I am a loving and caring person, and I know that is a tenet of many religions as well — including Christianity. So I think we need to start focusing more on loving people for who they are instead of saying “I love you … but not completely.” People who use this phrase need to stop its use because it invites us in the LGBTQIA+ community to believe that you love and care for us when — in reality, if given the chance — you would throw out that which makes us whole. You cannot pit a cherry then plant it expecting that fruit to grow into a beautiful tree with beautiful blossoms — so do not try to remove that which is central to our being, pretending to care for us and then chuckle and become indifferent when we cannot grow and blossom. In other words, stop using this phrase to pretend you care. If you insist on continuing to use the phrase, do us all a favor in the queer community and come out as homophobic or — at the very least — intolerant. Many of us have had enough deception in our lives to want to live in a truthful world. We might get hurt, but at least we will know who cares for us and who couldn’t care less.