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I Grew Up Around Gay People And (Shocker) Didn’t Turn Gay.

If you’ve been a reader for a while here, you know that occasionally I sidetrack from my typical entrepreneurial rhetoric and life wisdom to focus my thoughts on faith, equality, and the economy. The topic of equality hits especially close to home (see here) – and while I typically stay out of the conversation, a recent letter written by, of all people, Minnesotta Viking punter Chris Kluwe – sums up my thoughts – and most likely the thoughts of anyone who isn’t offended by the idea of equal rights and gay marriage – perfectly.

The brief backstory: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke out in favor Maryland legislation that would legalize gay marraige. In response, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to “inhibit such expressions from your employee”. The below is an excerpt from Chris Kluwe’s direct response to Burns.

“…Why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?”

Religion aside – it has always boggled my mind that legally, our citizens – regardless of who they choose to go to bed with – are not guaranteed the same equal rights. I can’t find a reason that in many ways, we still live in the dark ages of equality. But Kluwe hits the nail on the head…

It’s fear. We fear most what we do not understand. And as ridiculous as some of what Kluwe is saying may sound – it’s not ridiculous at all. Growing up, my father fought for custody of me multiple times out of the fear that I’d “turn gay” as a result of growing up in a home with a gay mother.

Come to find out, gay people don’t have magic “gay dust” that rubs off on you if you spend too much time around them. But the close-mindedness of many likely does have them believing that if a gay couple moves next door – it’s going to have an impact on their family. That homosexuality is an evil abomination that will ruin their perfect view of the world.

Kluwe’s response made me want to slow clap and shake his hand (and I’m a Chicago Bears fan, so that’s saying a lot). For me, it’s common sense that everyone (everyone) is entitled to equal rights – and that regardless of how terrible you may think gay marriage is – your hatred toward those who live that lifestyle is far, far worse.

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16 Comments

  1. Well said, Matt.

    Also, topic aside, the fact that a state delegate would try to inhibit the free speech of someone just because they don’t share the same opinion makes me want to get his butt kicked out of office.

    • You and me both, Thomas. I think that’s what makes this specific situation that much worse – that Burns would attempt to use his power/authority to silence someone from sharing his opinion. Ridiculous.

  2. Great work Matt !!!!!
    Those that stand clutching their copy of the Constitution & refuse rights are the worst of hippocrites. Thanks for taking the time to continue this argument. We ALL deserve Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

  3. As a part of my job, I help organize workshops for college students focusing on professional development. Yesterday I was at Texas A&M University for a workshop designed for study abroad alumni teaching them how to use their study abroad experience to gain a competitive edge in the professional world.

    One of the exercises asked students to focus on how they matured from their experience abroad, and one of the students boldly stated that it taught them not to be homophobic. As abrupt as the statement was, I was impressed by his ability to say it out loud. It was proof that it is definitely still a major problem–even among my generation (Gen Y). And that the only way to bring awareness to it, is to talk about it. Thanks for your post today!

    • Great story, Lindsey. It bring up a great thought that I’ve always had about the experiential nature of higher ed. The most valuable lessons I took from college were not related to what I read in a book – but were learned from the experiences, conversations, and actions that took place outside of the classroom with folks from all walks of life. It opened my mind to a world of opportunity, and to the value of collaboratively speaking up and sharing ideas. Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Matt, I’m so glad to see this post. I was so upset about that whole story, and I think Chris Kluwe ironically summed it all up in the most beautiful way. I think so many of us who support the legalization of same-sex marriage try very hard to be sure and stay kind and gentle in our speech in the same way that Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraged peaceful protest. Yet I have to admire how Chris allowed his passion and frustration to flow through his words. I think what he wrote was so powerful and really spoke to so many who never feel like they can express how strongly they feel about this injustice. Unfortunately, I think time is going to be the major factor in people’s understanding not to fear the unknown so much. Well, time and people who aren’t afraid to speak up. : )

    • Time, yes. Continuing this conversation, yes. With both – with folks like you and I continuing to share our story and speak our mind – not one that forces people to approve of homosexuality – but rather – one that opens the door to EQUALITY for all. I understand how this topic can lead to very opinionated views from both sides – but at the end of the day, every single one of us deserves the right and freedom to pursue happiness. Cheers!

  5. I love this post, and the issue is not brought up enough. In other parts of the world it’s even worse. Change needs needs to occur to show people that they are just human.

  6. I loved the post!!! I just found out about your website yesturday because I was searching for material to help me with my persuasive speech about gay marriage for school. Which your article really helped with my position on gay marriage, thank you very much :)