You Know a Gay January 17, 2010

You Know a Gay

Very cool idea:

I will tell one person daily that they know someone who is gay — me. This will mainly be people from my past who knew me as a good student, a good Boy Scout, a good volunteer, etc. — and now they need to know that they know a good gay. I’m talking 3rd grade teachers, hometown pastors, family friends, high school friends, my favorite bank teller, strangers I meet at the supermarket, elected representatives -– anyone. When an equality issue is voted down at the polls, I always hear that a majority of Americans “don’t know someone who is gay.” That is simply not true. They just need to know that they ALREADY know someone gay.

Can atheists do this too? He’s a good gay. We’re good without god. We all need to let people know that.

(Thanks to Lagunatic for the link!)

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  • MG

    This is a great idea. I do this when I can. It’s a great way to show people that atheists are good. They are surprised when you tell them because they’ve always known you as good, but they don’t know that you were an atheist as well. I think it makes some realize that they have probably met many atheists without realizing it.

  • Mara Jade

    That’s a really interesting idea. If I didn’t live in an insanely liberal town where I could literally make-out with my best friends (female or not) on school grounds without causing too much ruckus, I would definitely do that.
    I love me some Massachusetts.

  • Trace

    “How I choose who I tell?”

    That can be the toughest part. As a norm, I don’t wear my atheism on my sleeve. Family and friends know. Acquaintances on a need to know basis. Quite often I have my kid’s social needs to consider.

  • Outside the local Humanist circle, pretty much no one knows I’m an atheist. OTOH, I also don’t know the religious views and affiliations of most of them, either (and where I do know, it’s mostly accidentally that it came up that they go to church). Around here, religion gets treated as a personal thing, and evangelists are not the most popular people. I’m happy to keep the secular peace.

  • Does one get bonus points for being both?

  • Eh- I live in a really conservative area, and even if I went around telling people who know I’m a good person that I’m an atheist, chances are they wouldn’t think I’m so good anymore.

  • British Cat

    I may do this with my classmates at university. Most of them are Christians.

  • Ron in Houston

    I always hear that a majority of Americans “don’t know someone who is gay.”

    Is that true? If so, I find it rather shocking.

  • Ron in Houston

    OK according to Gallup

    a majority of Americans (58%) say they have a friend, relative, or coworker who is gay or lesbian

    and interestingly:

    71% of self-identified liberals say they personally know someone who is gay or lesbian — far more than is true among moderates and conservatives, who align more closely with the national average

    So, maybe the secret is to identify yourself as gay to moderates and consevatives.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Off topic, but this blog is always the slowest to come up when selected from my Google reader. I can select this one, then select another one and sometimes read it all before this one comes up.

  • Unfortunately, there are still people who can know gay people, even claim to care about them, and vote for anti-gay measures. My wife has an aunt and uncle who signed a petition (and then voted) to ban gays from adopting. Never mind that this is why their grand-nephew is legally their grand-nephew.

    They also know we’re atheists, and I’m pretty sure they pray for us regularly.

  • I ran into that problem this morning, too, NEB.

    I really think that we need to clarify that being an atheist is not a factor in whether one is “good” or not.

    Being who we are and making choices are the factors. Definitionally “good” is also a slippery term. So the phrase is “Can Be Good Without God,” is more accurate than “Are Good Without God.’

    God, in this case is an “extraneous” variable, not an independent variable. Likewise for atheism.

    Some atheists, like me, can be real jerks at times.

  • I have to say I don’t agree that this is such a great idea, for one reason. Your sexual preference should be a non-issue. By reminding people or informing them of your sexual preference, you are making it an issue. The answer that I give, and continue to give, if someone asks me if I’m gay or straight is “Unless you want to have sex with me, it shouldn’t matter to you.”

  • DGKnipfer

    Hey Zeno, do bi atheists count too?

  • The only people I have told that I am an atheist are my husband, my “liberal” sister and my best friend.
    I just don’t want the hassle of all my christian friends’ (I used to be a christian) reactions.
    Although if asked, directly, I’d answer. I’d even discuss.

  • medussa

    Jamye J, I agree that one’s sexuality SHOULD be a non issue, as should my religious beliefs for that matter.
    But the fact is, these subjects are made into big issues and not by me, or by atheists or gays in general. Prop 8 is the proof of that, or DADT, tax exemption for religious institutions, federal immigration laws, etc: they all affect atheists and queers, whether they like it or not.
    Again, I agree, it SHOULD be a non issue, but as long as discrimination is rampant and institutionalized, silence on the subject just allows it to continue.

    My family is almost all mormon or evangelical christians. I make a point of not letting them forget that their favorite wild child firefighter niece/cousin is both gay and and an atheist, on facebook posts, at family gatherings, in my choice of holiday cards. If nothing else, I want their kids to know that when they are ready to question their parents’ beliefs, they have an auntie they can call on.
    But I also want them to remember that what their respective churches preach about the likes of me just doesn’t apply: I am neither evil, nor immoral, nor dangerous. Maybe they’ll eventually realize that the rest of the sermon is BS as well… One can hope.

  • muggle

    I already do this. I’ve been an out atheist for decades. And I wear t-shirts that read things like “Imagine No Religion” and “Friendly Neighborhood Atheist” out in public so while I don’t actually stop strangers in stores to inform them (that would be silly unless you were overhearing an offensive remark), I guess I even do that.

    (I did interupt a conversation on the bus once back when my daughter was in high school blaming juvenile delinquency on all the unchurched kids and jumped right in there and bragged about my unchurched straight A daughter who’d never been in a lick of trouble precisely because she’d been raised with the far-out concept of thinking about what the results of her actions would be before acting. But those two old biddies deserved that.)

    I’m straight but I have to tell people that a lot. I get mistaken for gay a lot but it’s a stereotype thing. I don’t do my hair or makeup or heels or dresses. My pic on my avatar is about as dressed up as I ever get. Usually I’m in jeans and t-shirts and I keep cutting my hair short because I get sick of it in my face. So a lot of ignorant people see me and their brain goes dyke.

    Cause don’t you know, we straight gals live for frills and doodads and shopping and none of the gay girls would be girlie-girl. /sarcasm

  • mkb

    How about if people bring up their church/religion/religiosity, we mention ours; but if they don’t make an issue of it we don’t either. I say that as regards to “status” conversations. My beliefs inform my world view and are going to affect many other kinds of conversations too.

  • Gregg

    Bravo to all. here in Melbourne Australia, it is pretty ‘normal’ not to be religious and I find myself a bit mind-boggled when I come across gay and lesbian people who go to church. Every religious doctrine I’ve ever come across seems to have the hatred of some group or other at the centre of it. Religion in a scary thing to be discouraged at all costs!! Our State government has recently legislated to allow religious groups to circumvent anti-descrimination and equal rights laws – an outrageous act in itself – so – the fight is never over and is the reason we all need to be stand up and be counted when and where ever we can without endangering ourselves of course.

    Whenever people ask me about religion I always tell them that ‘I find the personification of deities naive and the meddling nature of religious nutters outrageously egotistical’ – That seems to put an end to the conversation.

    As an out gay teacher in the secondary school where I work I am aware that I would now be sacked without recourse in the private schooling systems (as they are all religiously affiliated) – So the indoctrination continues. Religion is poison. Thankfully the State system is STILL protective of my right to be open in th state system (Let’s hope it stays that way). But it is still interesting to note that the majority of gay and lesbian teachers don’t feel the environment is ‘safe’ for them to be open about their sexuality in their work place. But by not coming out all we are doing is reinforcing the paradigm that we are not worthy of equal rights and the dignity afforded to others.

  • I always hear that a majority of Americans “don’t know someone who is gay.”

    Oh, but the anti-gay people always tell you about all their really good gay friends–right before they launch into a diatribe about how they vehemently oppose marriage equality or some other such rights for LGBT people.

    Still, I like this idea with some minor caveats; we’ll always be accused of “flaunting it”, and people should be judicious about where and with whom they utilize the tactic. There are some instances where it would be more dangerous than helpful (I’m sure you all know what I mean).

  • Jerry

    If you were a gay with HIV, will you still say so? Most of the members at those HIV dating and support service like join the site for the social stigma attached to HIV. Can you ignore? If yes, you may be a hero in their heart.

  • LK

    I’m pretty open about my atheism and am not ashamed to tell people what I believe (or don’t believe, rather) if it’s relevant to what we’re talking about. I’ve never gotten any grief for it and wouldn’t mind telling one person a day, except there would have to be some kind of reason or else it would be inappropriate—can’t just grab someone and tell them I’m an atheist. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me if they were a Christian, for example.

    I would not be able to tell one person a day I’m gay. Because I am. And I just couldn’t do that. I mean, I’ll tell someone if they pointedly ask and if I trust them, but that kind of information is highly private to me. I wish I was brave enough to do something like that, but I’m not.

  • Vas

    Many of you already know my take on this subject… Always lie, always conceal. Always consider your personal comfort above any social good that may come of your actions. The only way we can stay marginalized is to conceal our true numbers. If it gets out how many atheists there are in the USA it would make it hard to play the victim card, I mean look at how the xtians try to play the victim card and how little credibility it holds, do you want to end up like that? You may need the victim card if you are somehow exposed as godless, let’s make sure the card is vaild if we need it. Besides you might loose friends or a job if you admit to being an atheist, or it could cause other problems, god only knows what. We must lie about this for the good of our xtian nation, for the children, for god’s sake think of the children. I know some of you want to be treated fairly by society right now but try to think of those who achieve comfort in their own lives by concealment of their own atheism, we owe it to them to keep silent, indeed to also pretend to have faith if this is what society demands of us. We must also keep our atheism from each other lest it slip out in conversation and one of us is exposed to discrimination, (this is why I post under a false user name rather than use my true name). The best way to avoid discrimination is to hide, we can never change our society and it’s bigoted ways. Look what happened to the queers, in recent years there was a big move to come out and a great many did, what good did that do them? To this day they still get fired, maligned, beaten, (sometimes to death) and are denied civil rights and there appears no end in sight. This could be you if we choose this path. The best thing we can do is sit down and shut up, (by the way doing so in a pew might be a good idea)! I don’t know about the rest of you but I could do without being stoned to death. I’m looking out for myself and would suggest you all do the same. Now if you will excuse me I’m going out to put my new NOTW sticker on my car.
    In Christ,

  • I think this is a great idea, but it would be a little awkward to carry out. Where I live, religion just doesn’t come up as a topic of conversation. I do have a Darwin fish on my car, but I’m not going to bring up atheism out of the blue when others have never told me what they believe. I’m speaking of acquaintances, co-workers, and clients. If someone asked, I would tell them, but no one’s ever asked. I’ve known many of these people for years, but religion has just never been an issue.

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