Fighting Homophobia - part 3
Dr. Jeffrey Chernin continues his column on "Pride '06: Fighting Homophobia In Your Midst" by considering a common situation - a gay or lesbian couple wishing to visit parents who disapprove of the relationship and who either refuse to allow the couple to sleep in the same room in their home or who refuse to admit their son's or daughter's partner into their home at all. Dr. Chernin's suggestion in the former case is to stay at a hotel or at the home of a friend or sibling. In the latter case, he suggests that the choice is either visit alone or not visit at all, cautioning that the second choice has to be weighed against possible future regrets should illness or death strike the parents.
Dr. Chernin has approached a very difficult situation with wisdom. The tone of his suggestions implies that the last option - not visiting at all - should be a last resort, given the further pain that it will cause for all parties. The other options allow for continued communication and the possibility that, even if full acceptance of one side by the other is never reached, at least a mutual, respectful compromise can be achieved.
The problem is that the reaction of the parents is slapped with the blanket label of "homophobia". This is related to a very sloppy application of that admittedly controversial and potentially offensive term - any disagreement with any aspect of homosexuality tends to be immediately derided as homophobic. This is a problem worthy of its own discussion. Suffice it to say that a person's moral code can be such that he or she may be unable to support someone else's choices; this does not automatically make them whatever-phobic.
Of course, this assumes that homosexuality is a choice, a controversial and uncertain determination in itself, and one that is touched on next in Dr. Chernin's column (and, thus, will be considered in my next installment. Please be patient!)
The fact is, there are two polar opposite beliefs in American culture - the belief that homosexuality is out of the control of the homosexual, and the belief that it is a conscious choice of lifestyle. There are some shades of belief between those extremes, but for the most part, you'll run into one or the other. And while we debate and argue the merits and failings of those beliefs, relationships are being torn apart, from close family ties to friendships. I don't see any mutually satisfactory consensus occurring in the near future, if ever. And if your particular belief is more important to you than that relationship, then so be it. Reconcile yourself to the fact that that relationship may be forever broken. But keep in mind that, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, "...it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit." It is only our relationships with others which we will take with us into the afterlife. The wisest course for all parties would be the course suggested by Dr. Chernin.