Fighting Homophobia - an introduction
Updated: Jun 15
The Prairie Flame was, at one time, Central Illinois' premiere - make that only! - LGBT publication. It ran from 1996 to 2008 before publication costs shut it down. I read it regularly from about 2001 until its demise.
Those who know me know that I am a committed, evangelical (in the original sense, not the current political one) Christian. As such, I believe homosexuality to be a sin, and, in many - if not most - cases, a choice. This, in itself, will get me branded "homophobic". I do hope you will explore this site a little more thoroughly before pigeonholing me. Those who have done so will have learned that I faced homosexual feelings myself as early as college, and that I long ago concluded that had I not given my life over to Christ I would have been bisexual. (I am confident that this admission will inspire some to say, "If you can say that, then you are bisexual and are simply denying your true nature." Perhaps some day I'll address that. But not today - I have other things to say.)
Those who have spent time with my words, or who have spoken to me personally, know that because of my history I have a deep interest in homosexuality, particularly as it relates to Christianity. I am convinced that the average evangelical or fundamentalist Christian does not truly understand the issues involved in homosexuality, and as a result often (unintentionally) offends the very person whom he or she is trying to reach.
At the same time, I am thoroughly convinced that the average LGBT person does not truly understand Christianity, having been exposed to either a watered-down version of Biblical teaching or to well-meaning but clueless (or much worse) Christians.
This clash, was, in fact, the basis of my novel, The Eros Variations.
And this is why I started reading The Prairie Flame. I wanted to try to get some insight into both sides of the issue - not only the stated beliefs, but the thought and emotions behind them.
Of course, I disagreed, in one way or another, with most of what I read in The Prairie Flame. This is hardly surprising, given my own Christian commitment. But, for the most part, nothing I encountered was really worth arguing about. For example, one issue spoke of a float that the Flame sponsored in a Gay Pride parade. Sure, I disagree with the whole philosophy underlying a Gay Pride parade, but what did that have to do with the Flame's presence in the parade - which I would think would be a given - or the float itself, a simple, cheery, pleasant floral motif?
Among the regular features in the paper was a syndicated column, called "Q Health". It was written by Los Angeles psychotherapist Dr. Jeffrey Chernin, PhD, MFT, and author of Affirmative Psychotherapy of Lesbians and Gay Men. (It should go without saying that Dr. Chernin is, himself, a gay man.) In June of 2006, he released a column titled "Pride '06: Fighting Homophobia In Your Midst", and it raised a number of issues that I felt compelled to address.
Now, it obviously takes a lot of hubris - or chutzpah - or, hell, just plain balls - for your average person with a bachelor's degree (in music composition, no less!) and jobs in a factory and a department store to take on a psychotherapist. But much I wanted to deal with had less to do with psychology and more to do with logic and common sense.
So, in 2006, I began a series of responses in a blog on my former website. I will be reprinting them here, slightly updated, beginning with my next entry.