Explanatory note: On March 7, 2013 Dr. Neal Sumerlin was published in the News & Advance in support of same-sex marriage in an article titled Homophobia Rules Supreme. I responded a few days later and my letter was subsequently published with severe edits. It is important to note that the editor of the paper – not Dr. Sumerlin – added the unfortunate title. As a result of the public exchange, however, he and I agreed to dialogue privately. After a private exchange of letters, we both agreed further that we would offer them publically in a blog format.
If you offer a comment on any of these posts, please keep it civil – serious responses only – or it will be deleted.
March 7, 2013 – Neal Sumerlin
A woman who grew up in the house next to mine, a retired anthropology professor whose parents are among my dearest friends. A musically talented young man who grew up in my church, and whose duets with his mother are among the highlights of my Christmas season. A former high school classmate of mine who ran a successful interior design business for years. A former high school classmate of my daughter, a talented lighting designer working in Florida. Many of my former students, including a bright and sunny young woman working as a highly-paid chef in Australia.
All of these people are known personally to me. For each of them, I have both admiration and affection.
Do any of these people seem threatening to you? Me neither. Do any of these people seem to pose a threat to your own heterosexual marriage? Me neither. I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now: They are all gay.
Yet some letter writers to The News & Advance would have us believe that they do pose a threat.
I am genuinely sympathetic to such people — I’m not trying to be snarky here. It can’t be pleasant to feel threatened by people who are more visible now than they were when you were younger. But you’re missing out on knowing some wonderfully interesting people.
I know some believe that these folks made a lifestyle choice and should be condemned for it. Despite claims on both sides, there really is no conclusive scientific evidence one way or the other, and human sexuality is far too complex to reduce to such simple explanations anyway.
But when I asked myself the question “When did I decide to adopt the straight lifestyle?” the absurdity of that assumption hit home. And if these folks believe that no one they love or admire is gay, odds are that they are wrong.
There are plenty of genuine threats we should worry about without having to fear imaginary ones.
Fr. John responds here: http://allsaintschurchlynchburg.org/june-16-2014-fr-johns-response-neal-sumerlin/