TIME Media

Thank You, Duggars, Your Homophobia Is Really a Public Service

Duggar family - Woodbridge, VA
Reality telvision celebrities, Jim Bob Duggar, center, and his wife, Michelle Duggar make a stop on their "Values Bus Tour" outside Heritage Baptist Church on Wednesday October 16, 2013 in Woodbridge, VA. The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

When gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon

You would think that, decades after Anita Bryant went on a crusade to rid gay people from public life, we’d be sick of hearing D-listers call us names and voice their hatred against us in public. The latest to really take a stand against gays is Michelle Duggar, the human baby factory who is the matriarch on the reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” This may sound strange, but I would actually like to thank her for her recent behavior.

The Duggars stirred up controversy when they recently asked for people to post pictures of married couples kissing on their Facebook page and then deleted a picture of a gay married couple kissing. (Hello? Who do you think is keeping TLC in business?) When the news of this leaked, activists directed people to sign a Change.org petition to “end LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars” and calls for the show to be canceled because of their behavior. It now has well over 120,000 signatures.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t Michelle’s only recent offense. She also recorded a robocall asking that the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas, vote to repeal a law that stops discrimination based on gender identity. Basically she wants people to be able to discriminate against transgender men and women.

Now some people think that we need to silence the Duggars and those like them. I think we should let them keep going. Nothing defeats complacency like knowing exactly where gay people stand with millions of Americans. Now, it’s not a shock that the overly religious Duggars don’t like gay people. That’s sort of like saying that Paula Deen likes butter. But, when gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon. There are still large groups of Americans out there who want to rob us of our rights, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we’ll never win the war.

Right now we’re having a bit of success in dealing with pop culture homophobes. In May, HGTV decided to cancel a show they were planning to air featuring David and Jason Benham when it was discovered that they had made some nasty comments about gay people very publicly.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made some very homophobic comments to GQ this January, and was mouthing off once again this May about how gay sex is unnatural. He was suspended from A&E briefly for his behavior and the ratings for the show tanked after his disclosure.

That’s why we need these people to keep talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is hatred in the hearts of many people for LGBTQ men and women in this country, but if that hatred just stays in their hearts they’ll be working against us without our knowledge. The louder they become, the easier it is to target them. And when we can target them, well, we’ve seen that we can do things to shut them up. If only we could give them all a pie in the face like Anita Bryant got.

Having loudmouth opponents also serves as an effective recruiting tool for allies to gay civil rights causes. Like it or not, reality stars like the Duggars and especially the Robertsons–whose most recent season finale still clocked almost 4 million viewers–have a huge stage. When they make these sorts of remarks there is always a media firestorm and each time that happens, I would like to think that there is at least one fan out there who thinks, “God, what an idiot.” Hopefully that opens up some minds and shows those out there who may not be very hospitable to the “gay lifestyle” that bigotry is distasteful no matter how it manifests itself.

We don’t get to teach these lessons, show our strength or fight these battles if these people are silent. We need people like Michelle Duggar to be loud in order to get the hard work of activism done. So no matter how much it sucks, we have to just take it on the chin every time one of these yahoos has the bright idea to spout off. Trust me, it’s for the greater good. Every time a reality star says something ignorant about the LGBT community, a gay angel gets her wings.

Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s most public and tragic gay men, said “True friends stab you in the front.” There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of misinformed people in America carrying daggers against gay people, including those who have a public forum to discuss those views. Why would we want them hiding that hatred in the shadows when, out in the open, it can be diffused, acted on and used as a teaching tool to get more people on our side. We should all thank Michelle Duggar. She thinks that she’s stabbing gay Americans in the front, but what she’s really doing is bloodying herself.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Prop. 8 Plaintiffs: Charles Manson Can Get Married, But We Still Can’t

Charles Manson and friends
From Left: Afton Elaine Burton and Charles Manson, imprisoned for life for association with a series of murders in the 1960s in Corcoran, Calif. on Aug. 14, 2011. Manson Direct/Polaris

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

By not ruling on marriage equality, murderers are afforded more fairness and dignity than our LGBT brothers and sisters

When the news broke that Charles Manson had obtained a marriage license while serving out his life sentence in a California prison, we were mad. Really mad. This man was sentenced to death—a sentence later commuted to life in prison—after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit mass murder. The Supreme Court has told him that his right to marry is federally protected. That same court has yet to affirm that same right for the LGBT community. The only thing we are guilty of is falling in love with a member of the same sex.

So while Manson and his bride-to-be make their wedding plans, thousands upon thousands of LGBT couples in 15 states, which accounts for nearly 30% of the U.S. population, are left at the altar. Opponents of marriage equality surely can’t say that Manson is more worthy of the right to marry than the couples in these states, can they? Would Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins rather have a dinner in our loving home or in the jailhouse cafeteria with a man who has no regard for human life? Would Cardinal Timothy Dolan prefer Manson and his “Helter Skelter” cult to the God and churches that many good and decent LGBT couples pray at and want to be married in? Would National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown prefer the sanctity of this sham Manson marriage–to a woman he is not even permitted to have a child with–over the marriage of loving and committed gay couples who are already raising children?

Our society is affording prison inmates more fairness and dignity than that of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Ted Olson and David Boies, who were our attorneys in the Prop 8 case, underscored this dichotomy to Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in court when fighting for our right to marry. Frankly, we don’t care if Manson gets married. It’s his right. Good for him. What we can’t stand by and tolerate is inaction by the Supreme Court on this issue. The piecemeal approach with which the Court has “ruled” in favor of marriage equality–by not ruling on the issue–is not nearly enough. Now that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the right for states within its jurisdiction to discriminate against its LGBT citizens by preventing them to marry the person they love, the Supreme Court must agree to hear one or all of the cases and do the right thing. You did it for Manson and now the prison has assigned him a wedding coordinator. We plan great weddings. What about us?

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME health

New Crisis Line Aims to Help Transgender People at Risk of Suicide

On 2014's annual day of remembrance for transgender victims of violence, a new hotline is ready to field calls

On Nov. 20, people are gathering at events around the nation to read names of transgender people who have died in the past year in violent crimes. The descriptions on the website for the occasion, the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, are chilling: “massive trauma, found dead in an alley,” “murdered and burned,” “gunshot to the back.” Transgender people, particularly transgender women, are subject to high rates of violence and harassment. A 2013 report found that 72% of homicide victims in LGBT-related hate crimes were transgender women of color.

On this somber day, an organization based in the Bay Area is trying to get the word out that there’s a new resource available to fight what may be an even deadlier problem among transgender people: suicide.

According to the most definitive report on transgender issues in recent years, 41% of transgender people attempt to commit suicide, a statistic that doesn’t necessarily factor in successful attempts. That’s a number that the people behind Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860), a crisis hotline staffed entirely by transgender people, want to see decreased.

“There are a ton of suicide hotlines. There’s no shortage of them,” says Greta Martela, a software engineer and president of the organization that went live this month. “But it’s really difficult to get a person who isn’t trans to understand what it’s like to be trans.”

Empathy is a powerful emotion for people attempting to come to terms with being transgender. Many transgender people say they only had the courage to come out once they met someone else who was living a happy life as an openly transgender person, people Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox calls “possibility models.”

Martela came out last year, as a 44-year-old parent. Before she did, she was plagued by anxiety and debilitating panic attacks. In the process of coming out, she called a suicide hotline. A man answered the phone, she says, and when she explained the trouble she was having, he just went quiet and told her to go to the hospital. “They had no idea how to deal with a trans woman,” she says. And when she got to the hospital seeking help, she had to explain what being transgender was to the hospital staff.

Her aim is to get people in crisis—whether that person is a suicidal, closeted teenager or the confused parent of a six-year-old—access to volunteers who can understand what they’re going through right away and direct them to more help wherever they are. “Those are the people I want to call the most,” Martela says of parents who are trying to understand what a child is going through. “Getting them good resources could spare their child a lifetime of pain.”

Right now, the corporation—which has applied for status as a non-profit—is a shoestring operation, fueled by open source software that allows Trans Lifeline to funnel calls to on-duty volunteers wherever they are. They’re raising funds for advertising to get their number out there, to people like Martela who couldn’t find anything like the hotline when she needed it. “There’s a body count associated with people not accepting trans people,” Martela told TIME in a previous interview for a cover story on transgender issues. “It’s costing lives.”

TIME Dating

OkCupid Rolling Out New Gender and Sexual Orientation Options

OkCupid manipulierte Nutzer
Maja Hitij—dpa/AP

The new feature isn't yet available to all users

Dating site OkCupid is granting select users additional options for listing gender identity and sexual orientation in their profiles.

“You’re part of a select group with access to this feature,” reads a message some users have reported seeing, according to pop culture site NewNowNext. “Keep in mind as we continue to work on this feature: For now, editing your gender and orientation is only supported on the desktop site.”

Users were previously only able to identify their genders as male or female and their sexual orientations as gay, straight or bisexual. Included in the new sexual orientation options are asexual, queer, questioning, pansexual, and sapiosexual (where intelligence is the most important factor in attraction). For gender, new options include cis men and women, transgender men and women, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender nonconforming, intersex and others.

It is unknown when these options will be available for all users.

[NewNowNext]

TIME sexuality

Butt Out! In Defense of Hot Moms

Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine
Jean-Paul Goude—Paper

Claire Howorth is the books editor at Time.

We Americans like our Moms and Wives a certain way—and only that way

I’m about to be a mom. And I love Kim Kardashian’s butt. Would that it were mine, well, it would be on the cover of Paper instead of sitting here writing in defense of hers. (Kim, I hope you’d do the same for me.) Would I pose glistening and naked? No. But do I think as a wife and mother Kim is beholden to some absurd notion of postnatal propriety, as some Glee cast members and other folks with wag-happy fingers seem to? No. In fact, I wish there were apron strings hanging down each cheek in that first photo—it’d be all the more winking an image. If you’re going to chastise a mother for indecency, why not get a head start and say women in general should never pose naked? Most of them will be moms one day. It’s as if, in the words of a foolish paragon of archaic decorum, “We can have a good time, but we cannot be wild.”

We Americans like our moms and wives a certain way, for the most part. We like them in minivans and on the sidelines—spread the Jif, not the legs. Just look at our advertisements (which have come a long way, even in my adulthood). There’s the Cadillac mom, so chic, so pulled together, so … fully dressed. There’s the series of LG Appliance ads—humorously written, but nevertheless relegating moms to the kitchen, the laundry room, the home front.

This is not to say we don’t want them to be attractive. No, we want that. We want postpartum bikini bodies and the jogging skirts that maintain them—marionettes on puppet strings, in G-strings, if you believe DirecTV. We fetishize famous moms throughout and after the gestational period—from bump watch to bounce back, and the faster the better. (Remember how hideously we treated Kim when she was pregnant?) We are okay with—enthusiastic about?—the classic Mom I’d Like to [This Bleeping Acronym Is Not Allowed Here], but even she must carry a few wholesome attributes: unconditional love, a sense of devotion, some bosomy, lipsticked comfort atop the five-inch heels.

How do we not like our moms and wives?

We do not like them dancing dirty.

We do not like them acting flirty.

We do not like them being lewd.

We do not like them in the nude.

We don’t want moms to be naked-naked, nipples that recently breastfed a baby reverted to something perverted (we have enough problems with nutritionally exposed breasts as it is). Surely a mo-om (say it in your best multi-syllabic teenage voice) should not be getting a bikini wax. Or perching a crystal coupe on her behind while an arc of bubbly squirts suggestively over her head. It’s part of the overall “mommy problem” that the writer Heather Havrilesky nailed just days B.B.I. (Before Broken Internet)—”You might feel like the same person deep inside, but what the world apparently sees is a woman lugging around a giant umbilical cord.”

So in a few weeks, do I officially enter some sort of Sisterhood of the Sexless, whereby we stop celebrating the very thing that made us mothers in the first place? Grab the twinset and pop the chardonnay! For whatever else you can say about her, at least Kim is putting forth—very, very forth—the person she always has been, before baby and now beyond.

What about when North grows up? Will she be embarrassed? Well, there are many other problems in the family tree of more serious psychological concern than Mama’s wanton nudity. As far as Kim’s body parts go for the rest of us, we’ve seen it all before, on ourselves and on her. If she wants to strip down in a puddle of sequins, baby oil and champagne, great. I’ll take a judgment-free gander. Maybe some moms will feel sexually reinvigorated or newly liberated by Kim. For anyone who prefers not to see all of Kim, make like a breastfeeding scold and look the other way.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Sex Education, From ‘Social Hygiene’ to ‘The Porn Factor’

The facts of life have been inspiring debate for decades

Within mere weeks of the publication of TIME’s first issue in 1923, sex education was making news: the “Social Hygiene Bureau” had done a survey of 5,000 American women, with the goal of designing a more “discriminating” kind of sex ed. This was news because 74% of the respondents admitted to using birth control of some sort, a surprising finding for the era.

Over the years, TIME’s coverage of the topic — which has included several cover stories — has ranged from 1930s worries about “over-intellectualization” of the topic, to Alfred Kinsey’s 1950s pronouncements that some form of sex ed should begin in infancy, to the first federal grants in the field in the 1960s, to a 1972 cover story’s finding that teens having sex younger didn’t mean they weren’t “woefully ignorant” on the topic, to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s 1980s statement that sex ed should be “as explicit as necessary,” to the 1990s fear that Dawson’s Creek was doing more to educate kids than schools were, to the 2000s fear that the Internet’s “porn factor” had replaced Dawson’s Creek.

And yet a few questions have been constant: How much of this is about the mechanics? How much is about the morality? How much should be done by schools and how much by parents?

Those debates continue today, as schools confront the problem of why they’re still having trouble teaching the topic.

Read more: Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed in the Internet Age

 

TIME Companies

Apple CEO Tim Cook Is ‘Proud to Be Gay’

The tech executive's first public acknowledgement

The CEO of Apple announced he’s gay Thursday, in an essay that puts him among the highest-profile publicly out business leaders in the world.

“I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” Tim Cook, who took the reins of the world’s most valuable company from the late co-founder Steve Jobs, writes in Bloomberg Businessweek.

The highly private Cook has never publicly acknowledged his sexuality, though it was widely rumored outside the company, and he writes that colleagues at Apple already knew.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook wrote. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Read next: The Best Way to “Come Out” to Coworkers and Bosses

TIME Television

Transparent Creator Jill Soloway on Making the World Safer for Trans People

Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City.
Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City. Anna Webber—Getty Images for The New Yorker

The 'Six Feet Under' and 'United States of Tara' vet explains how her Amazon instant hit was inspired by her family

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

One day three years ago, writer-director Jill Soloway got a phone call with some life-changing news: Her father was coming out as a transgender woman. “It was a total surprise,” she says. But as the elder Soloway, now a retired psychiatrist in her late 70s, explained the transition over the phone, “I reacted like a parent myself,” says Jill. “I tried to make sure that the person knows that they’re safe and unconditionally loved.” (To avoid confusion, Jill uses gender-neutral terms like “parent” and “they.”)

The experience became the basis for Transparent, an Amazon Instant series and one of the fall’s best new TV shows. It tells the story of the Pfeffermans, whose patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) goes from Papa Mort to “Moppa” Maura. The cast also features Gaby Hoffman as Maura’s daughter Ali, Amy Landecker as daughter Sarah, Jay Duplass as son Josh and Judith Light as ex-wife Shelly. Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein plays Ali’s friend, Syd, and The Office’s Melora Hardin is almost unrecognizable as Sarah’s lover, Tammy. Ultimately, it’s a family drama with a singular purpose: “I wanted to make something that would make the world safer for my parent,” says Soloway.

The prolific Soloway – who has producer credits on Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara and won a directing award at Sundance last year for her film Afternoon Delight – had wanted to make a “family show” since her two-year stint writing for Six Feet Under ended nine years ago. “Pretty shortly after they came out,” she says, referring to her parent, “I was thinking, ‘I’ve got a TV show now.’ It just immediately hit me as this is the show I’ve been waiting my whole life to write.”

The show’s first season premiered in its entirety on Soloway’s birthday and, even though critics were buzzing favorably about the show, she recalls being in a fugue state. As she tells Rolling Stone about all the ways making Transparent had been positive for her and her family, it seems as though the feeling of being stunned has transformed into happiness. “It’s exciting to know that it resonates so much with people,” she says. “But it’s definitely a new feeling.”

How long have you had the idea for the show?
Ever since I was working on Six Feet Under, I had an idea of doing a family show. And then the trans aspect made itself clear to me when my own parent came out as trans.

My sister worked on the show — she wrote the seventh episode ["The Symbolic Exemplar"]. She’s kind of, like, my other half. But when I imagined this show, there was always a brother. I actually think Ali and Josh are more like my sister and I are. In some ways my sister and I are like Sarah and Ali, and in some ways we’re like Josh and Ally. But in imagining the family, there were always three kids.

MORE: Jeffrey Tambor on His ‘Transparent’ Transformation

Who are you most like in the family?
I feel like I’m a lot like Josh. I really relate to the feeling of falling in love 10 times a day and wishing I could never stop falling in love. And then there are parts of me in Ali and parts of my sister in Ali. Faith is the person who would be living on her Price Is Right money for a few years, and I’m more of a Silver Lake mom, so in some ways I’m more like Sarah. And my sister Faith is gay, so in some ways she’s more like Sarah. So I think autobiographical stuff is all thrown in a blender and mixed around and evenly distributed amongst all three kids.

How much of the show is autobiographical?
I would say it’s almost 98 percent fictionalized. The Pfeffermans are just very real people. The reason I wanted to cast Jeffrey is because he’s always reminded me of my parent. They really have a very similar sense of humor and that was just immediate. Other than that, it’s not really autobiographical.

My mom had a husband who had frontal temporal dementia, who couldn’t speak, similar to the story of Shelly and Ed. He passed away a few years ago, the same summer that my parent was coming out. So I’d say that stuff is all informed by what was going on in my life at the time. A lot of things that I was experiencing and saying to myself, this feels like a TV show and thinking, “Good thing I have a TV show that I’m writing so that I can process all this stuff.”

Something to help you work through it.
I was really working through it. I felt kind of lucky actually.

What I like about Ali is she seems like a character you could do almost anything with. Is that why you chose Gaby Hoffman?
I saw her in an episode of Louie, and I just loved the way she was talking the whole time and he’s trying to get a word in edgewise and he lets her break up with him. I just loved the way words rolled off her tongue and nothing seemed written. I loved how free she was. I was just like who is this really cool, Jewish lady? And she’s not even Jewish.

MORE: The Best TV of 2014 So Far

You might say the opposite of Judith Light.
With her, I knew that even though America knew her as the Who’s the Boss blonde person and even as the character that I remembered her from on One Life to Live. She’s been playing these Jewish moms on Broadway and that she, herself, was Jewish. When I started to imagine her without blonde hair, I was able to see Shelly in her.

When I was casting her, [actor-filmmaker] Josh Radnor called me to say, “I just hope you realize she’s a magical being. She has spiritual power and can understand people’s emotional lives in an instant.” I was down for that. On one of the early days of the shoot, a bee stung on the top of my head when we were in the park – filming the push-up scene – and then later that afternoon I was shooting a scene with Judith, and she was doing Reiki healing on me and fixed the pain. That and the Vicodin fixed it.

How did you connect with Carrie Brownstein?
Originally, when we were trying to cast Tammy, her name came up. But I always felt Tammy was really tan and blonde, like Lady Diana or someone who spent some time in her childhood on a ranch. And Carrie just seemed too Jewy to play Tammy, but I really, really wanted to work with her, so in the writers’ room we created this character of Syd for her.

You’ve said you really wanted the show to be five people who were equally lovable as well as unlikable. Is that a hard balance to strike?
I’m always going for truth and honesty. I’m a fan of Louis C.K., I’m a fan of Lena Dunham. I love shows about people that other people would consider unlikable, or like the work of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. I love a kind of shambling outsider protagonist who always feels like they’re “other.” And so the challenge was to make five of those people in the family instead of just one. I’ve written scripts before about a single odd outsider and someone who’s trying to make sense of the world. I like that idea that all five of these people would be connected over their common legacy of feeling different, feeling on the outside.

MORE: In Pics: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

What does your parent think of the show?
They love it. All four of us in our family – my sister, my mother and my, I guess you could use the word “moppa” – were all just kind of standing back and watching this thing that feels a bit like a tribute to our family but mostly like something else entirely, something so much bigger than us. We’re just all watching it together and checking in with each other every day. “How are you doing? And what do you think?”

There’s this zeitgeisty moment in the trans community, and this show happened to land in the right place, by accident really. It’s probably a show that couldn’t have been made five years ago, and five years from now [it] wouldn’t have that same feeling of “Holy shit, we’ve never seen this before.” It’s kind of fun actually to be all experiencing this together.

How much work did you need to do with Jeffrey to create Maura?
I keep saying this weird feeling that Maura Pfefferman existed out in the universe, this whole family did. She was waiting for me to notice her and waiting for me to go get Jeffrey so she could appear through him. Somebody said in an email I was sent that Maura felt spiritual to them. I was feeling that a lot when I was talking to our hair and wardrobe people about her costumes and her hair — that she should be a California hippie, kind of a Wiccan, two spirits, high priestess. It all felt so organic.

Early Maura was a little bit more awkward, who hadn’t felt her sense of style…that had one sort of feeling. And I think in the fourth episode when Davina helps her use her own hair on top and use her silver extensions underneath, she really transforms into somebody else. Even the hair and makeup people said that Jeffrey was a certain level of comfort.

I never felt like I was working with Jeffrey to “do” her, I just felt like I was trying to stand back and let her come through.

Do you have ideas for Season Two?
A little bit. I’m starting to see the beginnings of what the characters would do in a second season. But I love the writers’ room process so much. I think more of what I’m going to be doing is trying to stop coming up with too much of it so we can all do it together when we all get back together.

Your parent must be very proud of you.
Yeah, they are. They came to the set on Jeffrey’s 70th birthday actually. It was a really special day. We gave Jeffrey a big cake. And they came to the premiere as well. It was really cool.

MORE: 10 Great TV Shows You’ve Never Heard Of

TIME faith

The Christian Way to Deal With Your Kid Coming Out

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My experience with my own daughter taught me a valuable lesson

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

Four years ago our daughter came out to us. She was 20. Here’s one of my first thoughts: we’ll never be the same in the church.

No kidding.

My daughter is telling me something very intimate and scary, several thoughts are going through my head, and I am a little surprised to realize that one is about how the church relationship would never be the same. Not just our then-church but the evangelical tradition we’d been in for 20+ years. They don’t accept gays, and no way are we going to squeeze our daughter into some box so we could fit a church. No. Way.

Frankly, the fact that our relationship to the church was a concern in my mind in that moment indicates a very serious problem with the non-affirming evangelical church tradition. Every time Jesus interacted with people in need, he was a safe and welcoming place. Done.

We are supposed to be that for each other.

Yet, in this moment of need, I knew the church was not a safe place for me to bring this conversation. Just the conversation was not safe to have with my closest friends there. That is a serious distortion of what the church was supposed to look like.

Our daughter asked if we would accept her. I said yes. She said are you sure? I said of course. Absolutely. My husband said the same – no doubt about it.

As I look back on the conversation now, I get chills. But in the moment, I didn’t grasp the gravity of her question. Of course we would accept her. No other possibility crossed our minds. But she told us this is not always the case. She told us that some of her friends lost their families when they came out. They were kicked out. What?!? How could that possibly makes sense?

My experience since then shows me this rejection is all too common. One young woman’s psychotic mother threw her down the stairs. A young man’s mother fell on the floor and wailed, “Where did we go wrong?” and his father answered, “When we had him.” This response is a serious breakdown. (Ya think?)

And it reveals something horrifying.

It reveals a lack of understanding of sexual orientation. A lack of understanding that it is who somebody is, not what they do, and not a choice. And nowhere, nowhere, does God or the Bible or common sense condone throwing out your child because they’re gay. By no measurement does that make sense. Unjustifiable. Period.

It reveals a completely wrong understanding of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. It is a wrong and dangerous teaching that puts behavior first, that makes worthiness up for grabs, something that can be withdrawn on a moment’s notice. It completely undermines Jesus’ presence on earth and in our lives today.

That my daughter could think, after all these years, that we could cut off or in any way limit our relationship with her is a chilling indictment of much of the church and its teaching.

Imagine someone who’s already been through the struggle of discovering that they are gay, and coming out to themselves. It took immeasurable strength and courage to come out to their Christian parents. And then those parents, and the church throw them out? Shun them? Reject them? Tell them they are going to hell? That makes no sense! ZERO SENSE. And it is the complete opposite of the message of God’s love.

But the church is changing. Because I AM the church. And I know many, many, many parents just like me. The church is shifting.

I’m beyond grateful that God is ushering in a new day and age. Legalism, fundamentalism, literalism – all of it – is on its way out. The next generation will not tolerate it. God is refreshing the truth of unconditional love to all people.

As it should be.

Susan Cottrell is the author of Mom, I’m Gay: Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith.

Read more from Patheos:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME sexuality

Hook-up Apps Are Destroying Gay Youth Culture

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Many dating apps help perpetuate what people scorn about LGBT: promiscuity, impersonal behavior, and compromised interpersonal connection

Notification: You have 12 new matches!

When I get home from work and realize the silence of the end of the day, I open one of the many dating or sex-based apps I have — programs that provide literally thousands of people for me to choose from as a possible match to my personality. I assume that I am like most people on these apps: ultimately seeking a lasting relationship.

Coming out as gay in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, was not an easy thing to do, so I didn’t. Like many LGBT folk, I flocked to a liberal university in a liberal city to feel accepted, but I found gay communities closed-off to LGBT youth. We all crave connection and intimacy, but there is nowhere for freshly out young gay men to connect. Feeling alone in a big city, walking from building to building without making a connection, I desperately wanted to meet like-minded individuals, but I found myself resorting to these apps to do that.

But instead of advancing the gay agenda of inclusion, I found the apps to perpetuate what people scorn about LGBT: promiscuity, impersonal behavior, and sexually motivated conversations. This is not the fault of the LGBT community, but these depersonalized conversations are what lead to depersonalized relationships. When an introduction to gay culture is through a sex-based app, it perpetuates the sex-based stereotype.

Because LGBT still face shame and disownment, our coming out is plagued with fear that we will lose those we love, which leads to a shame-based idea of relationships. Each dating app focuses on a different demographic, with OkCupid, Tinder, and Grindr thriving as probably the three most popular in the mainstream gay community. OkCupid is for the romantics looking for dates, Tinder is where you browse pictures and compare common Facebook interests before deciding to meet; and Grindr allows one picture and a brief description for guys who are looking for temporary company.

I never thought of approaching dating through this screening process, but many people inadvertently find themselves becoming a part of the hook-up culture. Compared to traditional dating methods, these apps provide many advantages: you save time on bad blind dates and boring conversations, you can connect to someone anytime you feel lonely, and if you are rejected you simply move on to the next person. But because there are thousands of people at your fingertips, it also creates a society of oversharing, superficiality, and instant gratification. You are on the grid 24/7 and you must advertise yourself. And there’s a paradox of choice: be careful who you choose, because there might be someone better out there—always.

Gay men want those perfect relationships that we see in romantic-comedies, instead of the ultimate fear of our generation: being alone. But there is nowhere that is not sex-based to connect. LGBT are still considered outcasts of society. Homosexuality, while popularized by the media, is still considered dangerous to teach to our kids. The way to solve this is through education. The history of talking about sexual orientation to children has been one of fear, regret, and ignorance. We need informed parents who understand how to support gay youth. We need college-aged LGBT to actively work their state’s capitals for gay marriage, harassment laws, and transgender equality. Most importantly, K-12 children should be taught about sexual orientation in an open, direct, and engaging way encouraging normalcy and assimilation. If we can openly discuss it, LGBT can defeat the sex-centered stereotype.

This generation will determine the course of healthy relationships while using future connection forums such as Ello or Hinge. If people feel supported during their formative years rather than making sex a dirty and scary thing, there won’t be a need to change our values because we are LGBT. There won’t be a need to comprise ourselves for connection.

 

Cody Freeman has worked extensively in the Philadelphia LGBT community through ActionAIDS, I’m From Driftwood, and The William Way LGBT Center.

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