What to do about the gays? | Ott Observations

A young man I know of passed away recently. He was 26 years old. He had a manageable health condition but upon passing out alone in his home, he fatally struck his head.

He was homosexual. He had a close-knit group of friends – straight and gay – that he socialized with and conversed with daily. They were each other’s support group. He was mostly estranged from his parents, who have strict religious beliefs.

In effect, his friends were his family.

After the funeral, his parents invited his friends for dinner – presumably to share memories and give each one a personal belonging to remember him. Instead, the dinner was a denouncement of the friends and their contributions demonizing their son.  

They disapproved of the consumption of alcohol as part of the socializing.  While the mother confessed she missed her son as they did, she also said she didn’t want him back because of his sinful life. The father was just silent.

As I heard about this, I found myself thinking of Dick Cheney, a long-time far-right conservative. When he agreed to run as vice president along with George W. Bush, his one stipulation was that he would say nothing about the party platform objection to gay marriage. 

His daughter Mary was gay. His other daughter Liz, in running for the U.S. House, did state she was opposed to gay marriage. This created a chasm between the two sisters much deeper than just a political disagreement.

Today this same Liz Cheney is co-leading the House committee investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. She was not re-elected because she had the courage to speak out against what happened that day and the people who participated. 

She also has said she was wrong about her opposition to gay marriage.  She loves her sister, her sister’s legal spouse and the family they have created, and is happy that our country allowed them the freedom to seek the love and happiness they have found.

I don’t think any of us has any control over what sexually excites us. We can control our behavior, but that is different than the core impulses of sexuality.  

A sexual life is part of the bond of intimacy and trust between two life partners, which is the basis for a nurturing and supportive family. I know of two women who found the same thing as Mary Cheney – a supportive life partner and a sexual life entwined with love, who are using that as a basis to nurture and teach their adopted child. 

It’s hard for me to see what is demonic about this.

For those so strident against homosexuality, I’m not sure what actions we’re supposed to take as a society. Do we tell them they can’t have a sex life or a life partner that attracts them?  Do we ban them from our church? Do we deny them work, because they might groom co-workers? Do we deny them housing because we disapprove of them?  Should we assign them to isolated colonies, like we did with the lepers in Jesus’ day? Should we send them to re-education camps like the communists do?   

As I was thinking about this column, I read a feature story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a woman who served during World War II in a group that decoded German military messages. Her group was responsible for deterring countless submarine attacks as we shipped men and supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. She said much of the credit should go to Alan Turing, who invented the decoding computers they used.

Turing was a brilliant British mathematician and is regarded as the founding father of computer science.  His machine, or computer, was used by many to turn the tide of the war. 

Turing’s homosexuality was discovered shortly after the war, which was criminal at that time. He chose chemical castration rather than prison. Two years later, he committed suicide. The British sure know how to honor their war heroes!

My heart is very heavy right now. I grieve for the young man who was poised for a rich and rewarding life, yet could not share with his parents who he really was. I grieve for his friends, who accepted him for who he was and basked in his friendship and love.  I grieve for the father, who has lost his son and has to stand in silence with his wife – who he probably doesn’t agree with – keeping his oath to be there through “better or worse.”  

And I grieve for the mother. She has lost her son. Rather than help her through this crisis, her interpretation of her faith has her despising who he was at the same time she mourns.  

Her son didn’t feel welcome in her home and she will never be able to talk to him about it. That must be a very dark place. 

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Bill Ott

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