Outing Aftermath: Can We Forgive Our Enemies? Should We?
JMG reader Stephen wonders if the LGBT community shouldn't extend an olive branch and a rainbow flag to homophobes like Dr. George Rekers after they've been outed. He writes:
In light of this most recent outing of an anti-gay conservative, I've had some thought that I'd like to share with you. Last summer, I saw that great documentary, Outrage, that actively outed several politicians and, then, I agreed with its justification. The bigoted, but closeted gay, politicians harmed us, so we'll ruin them so they can't do it anymore. However, now, I think there's a big flaw in this: when we get one and ruin them, trash talk them, and alienate them from both us and their conservative friends, it speaks volumes to all the others. Every time we shame and express our outrage at these people, we could be inspiring fear and be pushing others further into the closet. In fact, when we assassinate the character of these people, we are doing just what they would do to us. I well understand the pain that people like Dr. Rekers have brought to our community, but vengeance only engenders more pain. Would we fuel such hatred with our own?
Ironically, I think we should take a leaf out of Jesus' (real) message: forgiveness. If we, as a community, welcomed these people and forgave their political trespasses against us, I think it will demonstrate a much better side of our community and actually help others follow in the path of coming out and repenting their old homophobic ways. Moreover, I think it would help our community demonstrate the irony that, in some ways, the "Christians" follow less of Jesus' teachings than us. I'm not saying we should excuse Dr. Rekers right now. From what I understand, he isn't as of yet knocking on our door asking for an accepting shoulder to cry on or for a rainbow flag to wave, but at the same time, I think we ought to make it clear that when he's ready, we'll have it for him.
One could make the case that an outed notorious homophobe could be a powerful ally. And certainly many survivors of the "ex-gay" movement are today advocating fiercely for LGBT causes. But could we forgive Dr. George Rekers (or someone like him) if he came to us tomorrow as a repentant homophobe and openly gay man? Should we?
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