A Former Pastor No Longer Wrestles with the Issue of Homosexuality April 6, 2011

A Former Pastor No Longer Wrestles with the Issue of Homosexuality

David Hayward, who is known on this site for his thought-provoking nakedpastor cartoons, has a serious post up on his site that deserves a read.

He used to be a church pastor who was welcoming to gay people. But that didn’t stop other members of his church from holding views that ran the spectrum from outright bigotry to complete acceptance. That can’t be an easy group of people to lead… (And good luck discussing the issue of homosexuality in the pulpit.)

But now that he’s gone from the church world?

I still believe that gays should have equal status, rights and privileges without fear of negative ramifications in all of society. But it is no longer complicated by my constant obsession with their acceptance and inclusion into a delicate and sometimes easily offended community, the church.

It simply doesn’t matter. So you’re gay! So what? Be gay! If you want to be a part of a religious community, then find one that is inclusive. Or find one that is trying to be. Or go and keep your identity and orientation private. Or go to one that isn’t inclusive and don’t give a damn what they think about you and cause a shit-storm. Whatever. This is not to trivialize the extent of the pain you’ve experienced over this issue. But your sexuality is your business. Not theirs.

This is incredibly uplifting to me: Homosexuality is no longer an issue for David because he’s not trying to lead a church.

Some people are gay. That’s it. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad. It’s just what it is. And it’s not a big deal. When you look at it that way, arguments about whether or not gay or lesbian couples “deserve equal rights” become silly — of course they should. Why wouldn’t they have the same rights as everyone else?

Isn’t this the perspective we wish everyone would have on the issue?


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  • Brian

    I’m left-handed. That’s it. Can’t do anything about it. I’m left-handed. I expect to be treated equally, if you can believe that.

  • GG

    I’m left-handed. That’s it. Can’t do anything about it. I’m left-handed. I expect to be treated equally, if you can believe that.

    A very nice example. I liked it because no-one could possibly argue that left-handed people are in any way wrong. And because it wasn’t that long ago that left-handed people were considered wrong.

  • This is not to trivialize the extent of the pain you’ve experienced over this issue. But your sexuality is your business. Not theirs.

    Ehhhh.. Sorry, but I can’t see this as a positive, uplifting thing. He’s not just saying that being gay doesn’t matter. He’s saying that a person’s sexuality is their business and nobody else’s, yes. But he’s also saying that groups don’t have a responsibility to not be bigoted. He’s laying the responsibility on queer folks to search out places that are going to be welcoming. He’s, in effect, washing his hands of the matter.
    Sorry, but I’ve gotta call bullshit on this one.

  • Gabriel

    I think it is a fair point to say that if someone is gonna give you grief for being different, don’t hang out with them. However, they shouldn’t seek you out and cause you trouble either.

  • cat

    Consider the tea cozy said it.

  • Greg

    I absolutely agree with Consider the Tea Cozy.

  • I’m leaning with Consider the Tea Cosy…

    …though, I don’t want to make any assumption about former pastor Hayward’s intentions. He clearly demonstrated an inclusive and accepting attitude when he was still leading a congregation, so I’m not faulting him entirely here – some people don’t express themselves as exactly as they should. In the sense that who a person IS truly is nobody else’s business, I agree with him (particularly in a society where religious people want to nose around in others’ bedrooms and then play the sanctimonious card).

    However, I cannot completely absolve him from his statement, either, of *trivialization*…this man was a pastor. Most church leaders understand the power of words…and a suggestion that anyone should keep their identity and orientation locked in a closet while seeking out a church community for fellowship? Sorry, that just doesn’t sit right with me. I think his heart is in the right place…his head just hasn’t quite caught up.

  • Score three for Tea Cozy.

    “Sure, now I can say what I want, since I don’t have the responsibility of leadership.” Cop out?

  • Coley

    I don’t find this uplifting or positive in the slightest sense. My queer sexuality is a part of me just like your heterosexuality is a part of you. You get to express your heterosexuality publicly in many ways without even thinking about it because it’s the norm. Putting my queer sexuality off as something that “doesn’t matter” in a group that is supposed to be as tight-knit as a church seems, at its most benign, counterproductive. Saying that it’s not an issue is just like the whole “color blind” philosophy towards race. Race does matter and if you fail to recognize the issues that it raises, the problem grows and grows and there are more people on both sides who are hurt. This story is absolutely NOT one that should be looked on with a positive light. His perceptions should be challenged and if he claims to be gay friendly, then he should use his actions to prove it.

  • Some people are gay. If you are a person who has a problem with that then you are the person with the problem.

    I think that is what he is trying to convey. No fault lies with the gay (or black, or female, or ginger, or south paw, or short, etc) person when bigotry rears its ugly head.

  • annette

    So, you’re gay?!

    So what?

    The _what_ is that gays are maligned and denied rights that straights are. He’s afraid of the treatment of gays that went to his own church.

    That’s the “so what?”

    I think he’s coming from a better place than he was before, but to pretend it doesn’t matter trivializes the issues.

    If he wants to say, “So, they’re gay,” to his anti-gay co-religionists, maybe he can do that. But, it’s rude, dismissive, and benighted to say, “so, you’re gay,” as if a gay person’s homosexuality had no negative effects on their life. We’re not nearly at a place in society where that’s reasonable.

    It’s different than “so, what, you’re left-handed” because left-handed people don’t have the negative stigma and aren’t denied the same treatment as right-handed people.

  • Jon Peterson

    Forgive me a copy-paste, but I wrote this a couple days ago, and I like it as-is so I’d rather not rewrite:

    Last Thursday I attended a forum on Prop 8 at Sierra College. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it. That’s not the focus of this note though: while I was there, I was asked a question. I’ve thought a fair bit on how best to answer it, and this is where I’m at.

    Why do you support gays? Unless I’m mistaken, you’re straight, right? Why do you even care?

    The simplest way to answer this is: because it’s what I think is right.

    But while that’s quick and easy, and it satisfies most people who would ask that question… it doesn’t really tell the person anything new, or (more importantly) make a case for my position. In fact, reading it now, it just seems kind of dismissive. At the center of my stance it is a concept that goes back as far as I can be bothered to research. It predates all the major civilizations, and yes, the bible.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    –>Treat others the way you want to be treated.

    —->Afford others the rights you want them to afford you.

    I would not want someone to deny me a right (or any common privilege or practice) simply because they disagreed with or were disgusted by a trait/attribute/characteristic of mine. It gets into the very same basic argument from the civil rights movement (and, getting off on a little bit of a tangent, I’d like to point out that “separate but equal” is every bit as illegal with marriage as it relates to Prop 8 as with any other issue).

    Taking this any further, as I’d like to, would transform it from an answer to the question into the presentation of an argument… which I’d like to avoid here. Well, at least for now. I’m sure this is going to continue bothering me and I’ll end up finishing it later.

  • Brian

    I care about gays, although I am straight; I care about blacks, although I’m as white as a fish’s belly; I care about women, although I’m male; I care about the disabled, although I’m abled; I care about the mentally ill, although (oh, wait).

    “Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind,” wrote John Donne. And every piece of bigotry diminishes me and mine as part of humanity.

  • Jeebus

    Left-handedism is wrong and a sin. Left handed people are fighting the rotation of the Earth and will never be the equal of right handed people. Abominations! All of them! Blessed be the right hand that doles out justice and truth.
    LOL. Couldn’t resist. Sorry.

  • Silent Service

    It’s different than “so, what, you’re left-handed” because left-handed people don’t have the negative stigma and aren’t denied the same treatment as right-handed people.

    Um, no. The entire world, from your men’s button down shirt to the placement of most door handles is designed for a right handed world. Lousy comparison.

    Beyond that, I get what David is saying. I think Cozy is being just a bit too sensitive here. David doesn’t have to stand up and fight our battle and to be honest I’m thankful that he did for so long in his official capacity as a pastor; but it’s not his fight. In my opinion his attitude is the one I want to win the day. So some of us are gay or lez or bi; who cares? So some of us like to dress up or wear clothes that don’t meet some 1950s sitcom standards for men’s or women’s fashion; who cares?

    The problem is that some people do care. They care that we are not like them. Every time they open their mouth to spout their bigotry I want somebody like David to look at them and say, “So what?” It shows then that it’s their problem if they don’t like somebody. Slapping them hard is not as effective as simple dismissal at their idea that everybody has to conform to their narrow world view. That’s one of the biggest shocks you can ever get, being told that your narrow world view really isn’t all that important. Being dismissed like that forces them to examine their own view in their effort to explain why they care about how you and I live. It forces them to justify their bigotry and honestly in the end they can’t justify it even with their silly book.

  • Roxane

    I give him permission to wash his hands of the matter. He struggled with making his church more inclusive, and gave it his best shot. It didn’t work. He couldn’t change everybody in his church, even with the apparently not-so-bully pulpit of the ministry, because people aren’t automatons. Based on this experience, he’s advising religiously-inclined gays to be pragmatic and find a comfortable church in whichever way works best for them–which, of course, is exactly what they were always going to do anyway, precisely because he was unable to fix everything for them and offer them a perfect solution.
    What else could they possibly do, after all? I don’t see how this is bullshit. I think it’s honest.

  • Rich Wilson

    @Jon I wanted to attend that same event but had a work conflict. If you’ve got the time and inclination, I’d love to read more about how it went. The online comments to one of the local PRs nearly made me vomit. Go figure.

  • Barb

    While I should accept you as gay and I am straight is correct. But, it also goes beyond that. You should also accept me as straight and you are gay. I also have the right not to accept your lifestyle as normal, just the same as you have the right not to accept mine. It has gotten to the point that unless I accept your lifestyle as normal, I will be picketed, meligned, vandalized and sued because I do not accept your lifestyle as normal. I can accept and love you as a person without accepting your lifestyle as normal. You also have the right not to accept mine. Acceptance goes both ways. I do not have the right to punish you in anyway because I do not agree with you. And you do not have the right to punish me because you do not agree with me. You are a human being who has the right to make whatever choices because you are a human being, and I have the same rights. You do not have the right to vandalize or harm my church because you do not agree with me anymore than I have the right to do the same to yours. People will never agree on everything, and that is also our right. We don’t have to agree on everything. How we feel and think about issues is our right as human beings. But no one has the right to hurt another human being regardless of what choices they have made for themselves that do not enfringe on the rights of others. We, as human beings and as citizens of this great country, also have the right to educate our children according to our own belief system. We have the right to be protected in the exercising of this right. You have no more rights than me anymore than I have more rights than you. Each person is to be treated the same. No more and no less.

  • Jon Peterson

    @Rich Wilson
    I generally had good impressions. While the speakers were obviously pro-homosexual-rights, they presented information in an unbiased way (or at least, unbiased when heard by someone whose vision isn’t clouded by the slant of religion… one of my classmates left partway through the second speaker because she was “fed up with this nonsense”).

    Admittedly, a couple of the speakers seemed a bit less comfortable with speaking in front of a packed theater, and as a result they were (due to shyness of the mic, quick speech, rambling, etc.) a bit difficult to listen to… but I think on the whole it was worth the visit, and I was glad to hear some excellent questions being asked at the end (notecards passed up to a moderator).

    Without getting too deep into the topics:
    Speaker 1 discussed the legal events surrounding gay marriage in California, starting with Prop 22 and continuing through to the present situation with Prop 8. She did make an emphasis on the fact that although the Prop 8 campaign cited anthropologists in general as saying that gay marriage was a bad thing… there were only two expert witnesses that agreed to testify, and they were ill prepared to answer the questions asked of them.
    Speaker 2 discussed the difference between religious marriage and civil marriage, and discussed the sources of negative religious views on homosexuality. She then also put a massive emphasis on other issues (namely: adultery and birth control) which are, respectively, prohibited in the ten commandments and prohibited by the Catholic church (because it inhibits procreation)… and asked why, despite these issues being much more dangerous to the religious idea of marriage as an institution promoting procreation, the church does not seek a legislation outlawing either.
    Speaker 3 talked about various family structures in societies around the world, spending a lot of time with various Pacific islander tribes. He made the point that contrary to the Prop 8 campaign’s assertions, the consensus among anthropologists is NOT, in fact, that a family structure in a successful society requires 1 man and 1 woman. He also touched lightly on some Native American cultures that define additional genders, but admitted that he did not have the time to fully explain the idea so we only got the base concept that each physical sex has two genders, and that any two genders were allowed to marry.
    Speaker 4 (I feel really bad that I didn’t write down names, but I only heard about this forum at the last minute, didn’t have paper, and felt awkward about pulling out my laptop) discussed, with the help of graphs on a powerpoint, the impact of gay marriage in other countries that have legalized it. As he said at the beginning of his speech (paraphrasing here) “the too long, didn’t read version of this is: ‘none’. There is no impact.”

    If you’ve got any specific questions, I’d be happy to try to answer them… but like I said, I didn’t take notes, so I don’t remember too much detail.

  • Jalyth

    @Barb: Being gay isn’t a “lifestyle”. Suburban vs. urban living is a lifestyle choice. You say that you might be picketed for disagreement? Can you name an instance of that? The only I’ve ever done is counter-protest the WBC.

    @TeaCozy: Did you go read nakedpastor’s whole article? I didn’t. I both like and dislike this quote of his. I err on the caution side that he is probably our ally, and meant no offense. That said, if I knew him, I’d tell him if he said it badly.

  • cat

    @Barb, false equivocation. Being called out on your bull is not the same as being denied equal rights. Is there a federal ban on hetero marriage and military participation that I missed? Are queer people advocating it? Is there common discrimination in schools, housing, employment, etc. against heteros? Did you hear anti-hetero slurs every day in school? Have you ever been beaten, raped, had shit thrown at you as people screamed “breeder” because they thought you looked too hetero? Did you get kicked out of your home as a kid because your parents discovered you were hetero? Is there a dearth of depictions of hetero love and families in media? There is no widespread social discrimination against heteros. There is no movement to deny/strip heteros of rights that queer people enjoy. You can be as hetero as you like, you just do not get to be a bigot. That does not warrant a pity party for you.

  • Poyndexter

    When I read the title I thought either the pastor was gay and finally made peace with it, or “came out of the closet.”

    So Mr. Hayward doesn’t care about (other) people’s sexuality. Well, bully for him.

    Why this should be “uplifting” – or even a post – is testament to the strange obsession with gay issues on this “atheist” site even to the pont of celebrating trivial endorsements from random, former members of the clergy.

  • Rich Wilson

    @cat

    “Is there a dearth of depictions of hetero love and families in media?”

    Speaking of, someone JUST sent me this call to boycott ABCs Modern Family http://www.onemillionmoms.com/IssueDetail.asp?id=340

  • annette

    @silent
    I see your point about door knobs and shirts.
    Still, I think it’s a false equivalence.
    When left-handed people can’t adopt children or marry, or have their relationships depicted on tv without boycotts called on them, then I think it would be a closer analogy.

  • catherine

    @barb

    It has gotten to the point that unless I accept your lifestyle as normal, I will be picketed, meligned, vandalized and sued because I do not accept your lifestyle as normal.

    Don’t worry, I doubt that you and your church would actually be worth all of that trouble. I know that folks on the anti-gay side of things like to fuss about how persecuted they are, but the reality is that folks who make comments like yours are a dime a dozen. If I picketed every church that had negative things to say about gay people, I wouldn’t have time for much else.

    Yes, you have every right to tell me that you don’t approve of me. And in return, I have the right to call you out on your bigotry. But let’s not pretend that both sides in this discussion are equal. You aren’t the one being told that you can’t get married because of your sexual orientation. You aren’t the one being told that your sexual orientation is disordered. You aren’t the one who has to fear violence from people who hate you because of your sexual orientation. And so on and so forth.

  • Sheldrake

    It has been encouraging to see the change in attitudes regarding homosexuality over the last couple of decades. Pastor David’s comments are a welcome, if small, change that has been a long time coming. For the gay community, I think there is no going back, only better times ahead.

    -Sheldrake

  • i struggle to accept straight people. the way they kiss in public, hold hands, flaunt their sexuality on television and in movies. it’s sort of gross, but i’m tolerant and accepting and i try not to think about how unnatural it all is. my religion tells me that the FSM created all women gay and equal, but that the evil Parmesanians perverted Her creation and introduced straight men into the world against her will. you should respect my intolerance because some people agree with me and support for my view can be found in a ‘holy book’ that someone published on the internet. Also, sometimes women dress up in funny shoes and hats and sing songs about the FSM; that makes them experts on human sexuality. they tell me my views on het sexuality are correct, and therefore laws that affect all should conform to our views.

  • I’m a priest with a congregation and I don’t have any issues with people who are gay. There are lots of ministers of religion who are fully inclusive of people whatever their sexual orientation..