It's Not "Brave" to Be Homophobic, OK?

According to numerous studies, queer youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Who's really "brave" here?

Mar 6, 2012 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

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On Friday night, Kirk Cameron -- whose clean-cut visage once adorned my preteen bedroom wall, pulled from the pages of BOP or Tiger Beat or some other girls' pin-up magazine held together with one or two feeble staples, quick to surrender under the eager fingers of myself and my friends as we read (skimmed, more like) the handful of actual written words and got straight to the business of taking the magazine apart, and what if Sean Astin and Johnny Depp were on opposite sides of the same page? WHAT THEN?
 
What was I talking about again? Oh, right, Kirk Cameron.
 
Kirk Cameron's primary mainstream claim to notoriety was his role on the legendary 80s sitcom "Growing Pains," a gritty and groundbreaking series about a rich white family having rich white people problems. Cameron played the handsome-but-nonthreatening teenage son Mike Seaver and in this role came to decorate the walls (and the hearts) of many a 10-year-old girl, myself included.
 
Since the 80s, Cameron has taken a turn for the Christian, and dedicated his considerable talents to the uber-religious "Left Behind" series of films, which chronicle the aftermath of the Rapture (with a capital R!), as well as to evangelical proselytizing in non-film-based forms. 
 
But getting back to it: on Friday night, Cameron appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight, ostensibly to promote some new documentary. While there, Morgan asked him for his thoughts on The Gays' getting hitched and stuff. His observations on the matter were predictably nNanderthal:
 
"I think that it's unnatural. I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization," said the now 41-year-old actor. 
Queers are DESTROYING THE FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY, you guys. This is nothing we haven't heard before, although it's been a bit since we heard it in such a mainstream outlet. 
 
When asked how he'd respond to one of his own children coming out, Cameron stated:
 
I wouldn't say 'That's great, son, as long as you're happy.' I'm going to say, 'There are all sorts of issues we need to wrestle through in our life. Just because you feel one way doesn't mean we should act on everything we feel'."
Because being gay is exactly the same thing as wanting very badly to eat the last cookie in the cookie jar. If we all acted on every little impulse, we'd be fighting over cookies all the time, you guys! Self-discipline is what it's all about. According to Kirk Cameron.
 
To be clear, I don't begrudge Cameron his wacked-out ideas. He can believe dinosaurs are an anti-Christian conspiracy and that sex is only for reproduction and any other fairy tales he likes. I'm not real happy with his interest in disseminating them as anything other than his personal beliefs, but hey, I use my own public platform to discuss plenty of concepts folks find offensive -- and only with intermittent success at making it clear that they are my opinions alone -- so I really don't have it in me to criticize him too much on that alone. 
 
I think he's wrong, and I think his backward and hateful ideas are the "detrimental" and "destructive" ones, and given the outraged reactions his comments have elicited from so many people -- from GLAAD to his former "Growing Pains" co-stars -- I am far from alone in that. And if the incident had stopped here, I probably wouldn't have anything to say about it.
 
But then Piers Morgan himself responded to the controversy:
 
When asked if he thought Cameron's views were outdated, Morgan answered, "He was pretty brave to say what he said. It's -- many would argue -- an antiquated view about many of these issues." 
BRAVE. Vocally opposing homosexuality may be many things, but brave is not one of them. 
 
Lest any of us think that Morgan hadn't fully considered his words here, he followed up with a clarifying comment on Twitter:
 
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Mmmm. Uh huh. As impressed as I am that Morgan busted out the dictionary for this one, I find this explanation even more problematic.
 
Will Cameron really experience "pain" or "danger" for his comments? It seems unlikely. The worst he will weather is the vague disgust of social liberals like myself, something he would have even if he hadn't made these specific comments. The odds are against him facing physical violence of any kind for having made his observations are minimal at best: Kirk Cameron is pretty safe from any serious repercussions here.
 
The same can't be said for those world-destroying queers of whom he is so eager to express his disdain: According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, murders of LGBTQ and HIV-infected individuals rose by 23 percent between 2009 and 2010. There is still no national legislation in the US specifying that violence perpetrated against an individual because of their sexual or gender identity is a hate crime. 
 
According to numerous studies, queer youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. More than that, the odds of anyone raping Kirk Cameron to "correct" his wrongheaded thinking are virtually zero; queer folks can't rest so easy. 
 
It is not "brave" to advocate against the acceptance of an oppressed group, as Cameron has done. His comments only underscore the violence currently perpetrated against these individuals. The vocal outrage from some quarters may seem like he's swimming against the tide, but the truth is that LGBTQ individuals face far greater "pain" and "danger" every day of their lives, just for being themselves out in public, even without going on Piers Morgan Tonight to purposely make themselves targets.
 
The brave act is to be true to oneself, no matter the cost, and not to publicly call out those already facing down some pretty heavy resistance. Everyone may have a right to their opinion, but not every opinion's expression deserves to be called "brave" -- however we define it.