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A Letter from a
Homosexual Man Angry that the Times Quoted Me--and My Response
by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.
Five days after the New York Times
article came out (“Gay
and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance,” Dec. 12, 2006;
temporarily available on the web
I received the following email:
Sent: Sun 12/17/2006 10:50 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Message sent to New York Times reporter Neela Banerjee
The angigay bible bigot, Bob Gagnon,
has made much of his inclusion in your article on "gay
evangelicals." Rightwing outfits such as Americans for Truth located
in Naperville, Illinois are engaged in much posting of his response
to your Times article. At a minimum, you have afforded them
undeserved attention and, they hope, respectability.
Now, I realize that unlike in western
Europe, Canada and even parts of Latin America where religion has
become increasingly irrelevant if not an actual laughing matter,
religion continues to play a prominent role in the lives of many
Americans. I find this regrettable, but it is a fact. Yet, is it
something that needs to be publicized, over and over again?
Specials on CNN, articles in the New York Times, cover stories on
Moreover, I think there ought to be
parameters that frame responsible reporting on a subject where the
lives of human beings are being denigrated even if by seemingly
learned seminary professors. Were a reporter to write an article on
African Americans, Jews or women, would she or he seek out opinions
of persons who advocate for denying equal civil rights to these
people? Would David Duke be solicited for comments on the rights of
Black people? Would the Protocols of the Elders of Zion be cited as
an authoritative description of Jews in America?
Gagnon and his ilk in the plethora of
"family values" organizations and allied Christian "ministries,"
claim that gays can become straight through prayer to Jesus. Even
though this point of view is attacked as harmful by the national
associations of psychiatrists and psychologists, people like Gagnon
continue to be sought out by reporters for respected national
publications like the Times.
Gagnon and his ilk cite prohibitions
in their holy book to justify denying equal civil rights to a whole
class of people. Yet, when Islamic "militants" cite their holy book
in support of discrimination, they are dismissed as "terrorists."
Is there a double standard operating here?
It is irritating to say the least
that national publications and other mainstream media continue to
treat gays like myself as objects perhaps deserving of second class
citizenship, by citing bigots like Robert Gagnon who preach hate and
discrimination behind a facade of righteousness.
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:00 PM
Subject: RE: Message sent to New York Times reporter Neela
your email is itself an instance of hate and bigotry. You cannot
promote compassion and intelligent thought from such a
comparison of an impulse to do something with ethnicity or
gender--conditions that are 100% heritable, completely impervious to
cultural influence, primarily non-behavioral, and therefore
necessarily benign--is unreasonable since even you would have to
admit that there are many biologically based impulses that cannot be
approved. Your entire argument is predicated on the false assumption
that moral conclusions can be drawn from the mere fact of biological
causation when, in reality, all impulses (good and bad) can be
traced, at some level, to biology.
also clear that you know little about my work or my views when you
insinuate that I think that anyone with ingrained homoerotic desires
who prays to Jesus will have every vestige of such desire removed.
As for my academic credentials--you refer to me as "seemingly
learned"--they speak for themselves (Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton
Seminary). And, may I ask, what are your academic credentials for
assessing my own?
Love in Christian faith
always desires the best for someone, which is not necessarily
(indeed often is not) giving people what they want, when they want
it, and with whom they want it. Any parent knows this. I do not
support any hateful actions toward homosexual
persons--including the endorsement of homosexual practice, which in
the end turns out to be hate for those beset by homoerotic desires.
I do not hate you. I
really want the best for you. But it is futile to engage in
discussion with you when you have not done the necessary homework to
reason intelligently and lovingly on this important matter. Please
do not contact me again until you can cease to be abusive and
demonstrate that you have read widely.
I hope that someday you
will be able to get past your blind unreasoning hate, fueled by your
self-interested misperceptions, to see that God's will for your life
does not entail acting out on impulses that dishonor the integrity
of your gendered self. Ultimately, we must all, as Jesus says, "take
up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives." For some this
death to self will be particularly difficult in one area, for others
in another area. But no one gets a pass.
Robert A. J. Gagnon,
Associate Professor of
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a
professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible
and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. He can be reached at