At the Secular Student Alliance conference a couple weeks ago, Greta Christina gave the keynote address on the topic “What Atheists Can Learn from the LGBT Movement.” (An earlier, briefer version of her talk can be found here.)
You often hear analogies about how coming out as an atheist has parallels to coming out as gay or lesbian, but Greta pointed out that there’s waaaaaaay more to the analogy than just that.
It was one of my favorite talks all weekend and I urge you to make time to watch the whole thing:
There were a few things she said that I’d never considered before.
One was at the beginning:
Since the LGBT movement is roughly 35 years, by my estimation, ahead of where the atheist movement is right now, I think that the atheist movement right now is about where the LGBT movement was in the early 70s right after the Stonewall Riots. I think we have a unique chance to learn from that movement, both from its successes and from its failures.
I had a chance to ask Greta later what she considered to be our “Stonewall” — what event did she feel mobilized atheists in a way never before seen?
Before I tell you her answer, can you guess what she said? (Her response is at the bottom of the post.)
The other notable moment for me came at the 47:00 mark, regarding the pride we feel about coming out as atheists because it feels good to be among the (relative) handful of Americans who are rational and sensible when it comes to matters of faith and god:
We need to be prepared — not this year, probably not even in a few years, but eventually and sooner than we might think — for atheism to become mainstream.
And when that happens, we need to really, really be prepared to let go of any ideas we might have about atheists being special. About atheists being more independent, better at critical thinking, less willing to just believe what we’re taught, better informed about religion, more thoughtful about ethics and the meaning of life, more anything.
… I think that that “amazingness” is doomed. And, more to the point, I think that it should be doomed.
Seriously, a great talk. Go watch it.
So, what was Greta’s response to what our version of Stonewall was?