OpinionLove and homophobia can’t coexist

So stop pretending like it can
Steven DrakeApril 11, 201973212 min
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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.

Steven Drake

7 comments

  • Angelique Lopez

    April 11, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    From what I understand, the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin” in regards to homosexuality means to love the person but believe that homosexual acts, separate from the person, are sins. In other words, it’s okay to be gay. It’s okay to be attracted to the same sex. Don’t hate the person just because he/she is gay. Love the person. As for “hating the sin,” many religions believe that all humans are not sinless, but that doesn’t warrant those who follow those religions to hate everyone and themselves because of that. Some religions believe that sex between two men or two women is a sin, just like believing sex before marriage and adultery are sins. It’s a belief that says sexual acts are not “the core of [your] being,” an acknowledgement that you are more than that — that you’re just as human.

    Reply

    • Calliope Izquierdo

      April 11, 2019 at 10:32 pm

      The main problem many gay people, myself included, have with “love the sinner; hate the sin” is the inherent power imbalance thus engendered. The specific subjects of sex and intimacy tend to evade mainstream discussion of LGBT issues because they are, as you’d expect, intensely personal. If I want to express my relationship with sex (whether or not it exists in my attraction, what shapes it would take, its proximity to casual gay regard, etc.), I would have to approach from a vulnerability that would incontrovertibly color my expression. Sure, many religions assign divine significance to sex, but at the same time, every person approaches the definition of sex and divinity and humanity in different ways depending on their background, and in terms of navigating the predominating religious edicts and rules that affect a society’s collective norms, the stakes are higher for sexual minorities whose rights and dignities are oftentimes denied in real, material, and intimate ways. The denouncement of gay sex on religious grounds places an inherent, non-tacit judgment on a gay person that not only denies them of the same social autonomy as the privileged majority (consider Kayla’s article on female masturbation for a similar phenomenon), but it interrogates their relationship with sex in very complex and fraught dimensions. And the sensitivity of those dimensions are often completely lost on the kind of Christians Steven refers to in his article: homophobes who either equate gayness with sexual depravity (and there are LOTS), and homophobes who want to maintain a perceived civility by separating gay people from their capacity for intimacy. Isaiah’s snarky tone in the Chick-fil-A article (“At this point, any objection to homosexuality or preference of heterosexuality over homosexuality can, on a campus like this, become something much more radical than its really intended to be”) indicates very clearly his attitude towards the issue: that there isn’t an issue at all, and that being “cool” and complacent is preferable to letting the LGBT public express their collective discomfort for the power fundamentalist Christianity holds over their identities at large. This attitude erases, has erased many gay people’s voices of suffering in public discourse, and feels like a shallow minimization of the discomfort of privilege. To be reminded of your sinful impulses rings differently for people of all backgrounds in the same way all people approach the sphere of the divine (or choose not to) in individual ways, and to be honest, it’s so fatiguing to navigate the questions of whether or not such and such Christian person considers my identity with an asterisk and what that asterisk says. Because nine times out of ten, it probably labels me with either disgust or pity.

      If your first instinct as a Christian is to cover your ass on behalf of your peers, then you missed the point of the article. Need I remind you of Steven’s impetus for this? Isaiah’s invocation of “love the sinner; hate the sin” was directly defending Chick-fil-A, whose religious expression manifests in support for tangible discrimination against LGBT people. If you wanna defend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the other anti-LGBT groups in question, be my guest, but maybe try reading this article again and really interrogate how you view humanity. If a gay person considers gayness as part of their personality in some capacity, then you have to acknowledge the possibility that sex and intimacy are immutable elements of that identity (and furthermore, that that doesn’t automatically indicate a maladaptive infatuation with the flesh or the worldly, etc.).

      (Also “homosexual acts” is such a hilarious phrase that I’m gonna use exclusively now.)

      Reply

      • Steven Drake

        April 11, 2019 at 10:57 pm

        Hun, I should’ve just let you write this piece! Couldn’t have said it better myself! I didn’t even begin to think about sex and intimacy, but really I see you’ve taken care of that argument lol. While I try to tread carefully when talking about my sexuality and how it relates to my personality–simply for the sake of not falling into stereotypes or having people see me as shallow (but who really cares tbh)–I never really even thought about intimacy being an “immutable element” to my being, although it all makes perfect sense! What kind of world would I want to live in where I don’t get to realize my full potential? Merely living and coexisting with my sexuality seems so bland, gray, and devoid of purpose/meaning whereas acting on it and living my truth is truly what drives life.

        Thank you so much for your comment! Made my day!

        Reply

      • Noelle Barrera

        April 11, 2019 at 11:51 pm

        Hey Callie? Thank you for being so brilliant and good as usual — also feel free to write a guest column for us if you want

        Reply

  • isaiah

    April 11, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Hey man, I can see that you’ve been hurt by this kind of talk before, so I wanted to clarify things. I can’t claim to speak for other Christians, but the meaning behind that phrase isn’t really partial love, but rather love in spite of our flawed humanity. Hating “the sin” doesn’t refer to some specific wrongdoing out of a list, but rather the universal condition of being human. Gay people aren’t exceptionally wrong (but I can understand if somebody else has said that to you before). The whole basis of Christianity is that everybody’s flawed. We (are supposed to) overlook this universal human flawed-ness, which is not the same as partial love.
    I usually think it’s pointless to start a whole strand of comments in the Trinitonian, so I tried to find you on Tmail but couldn’t seem to dig up your address. Anyway, at this point, I’m used to people lashing at out me, but I can’t abide people thinking that I don’t love them. I’m not trying to ‘educate’ you or anything, I just think you should know that I love everybody (including you) in spite of our flawed state (which I also inhabit).

    Reply

  • Steven Drake

    April 11, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    It has recently come to my attention that some words that I wrote in this article were insensitive to people of color on campus. Just so there isn’t any confusion on the matter, here is the line in question:

    “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.”

    Some of the comments I have received voice concern about how I am equating queer experience on campus to that of an experience of a person of color on this campus. In truth, I never meant to compare or contrast identities or say that experiences are equal, because they most certainly are not even when there are intersectionalities of queer people who also happen to be persons of color. I apologize whole heartedly for any offense I have created against the POC community on campus and I take full responsibility for my more than poor choice of words.

    Reply

  • Monique

    April 14, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Being a pan sexual Catholic, the whole “hate the sin…etc” is a bigger crock of bs then “bless your heart”. Following that line of logic we could separate a rapist’s actions from their person. Which is a bit ridiculous since they’re misogynist even if they didn’t commit that actually real and mortal sin (in my opinion). As a catholic, I don’t think god particularly cares how or who you do the nasty with given the party (or parties 😉 ) can consent and are into it. Also, dear Isiah, what about being gay or anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum is a “flaw”? Now being too proud to self reflect or put oneself in others shoes, now that’s a flaw.

    Reply

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