Friday, July 27, 2012

Responsible Comsumerism and Understanding Your Impact

Let's play a game of pretend. Let's say there's a huge, multinational fast food restaurant named Beef-pat-T. Now, Beef-pat-T is a family-owned business and these owners are Christians. They're so Christian in fact that Beef-pat-T stores the world over are not open on Sundays so that their employees can enjoy a day of spiritual rest and worship.

If you are a Christian, you probably think that's awesome. If you aren't a Christian, you probably think it's a little weird, but, hey, it's none of your business.

Now, at some point in time, you see an interview with the current big kahuna of Beef-pat-T that one of their guiding principles is that Christians should be free to worship.

Sounds pretty noble, doesn't it? Unless you're a raving, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Christian, you're probably pretty okay with plopping your $10 bill down on the counter in exchange for some delicious Beef-pat-T fare.

Then you find out that Beef-pat-T has a charitable giving arm that donates to Christian groups that defend Christian religious freedom. Still awesome, right? Even if you're not a Christian, you're probably pretty down with them having the same freedoms you enjoy.

Then you see somewhere where in an interview with a Christian magazine, the big kahuna said he believed non-Christians are going to hell and are less moral than Christians. Now, that's a little discomfiting if you're not a Christian, but lots of Christians believe that. For most folks, the beliefs of the company head aren't relevant to whether they're going to buy his product, though some folks might decide to take their business elsewhere.

You then learn that this corporation doesn't mention religious belief in their non-discrimination policy. Sure, in the US, an employer can't fire someone for religious beliefs, but that doesn't apply worldwide. Are you more iffy about giving this group your cash?

But what if you found out some of these groups they support are associated with hate groups? Well, you might be curious what that means. Is it just because they share the belief that non-Christians are going to hell? So you go and look up why these are hate groups and you find out that some of these groups claim there's a non-Christian agenda to destroy Christianity in America. They claim that Hitler was a Wiccan and the worst Nazis were all pagans who created the Holocaust. They claim that Jews and Moslems are pedophiles who have an agenda to get their religions accepted in America so that they can target your children. They're actively campaigning to support employers' rights to fire non-Christians, to allow bullying of non-Christians by Christians due to the bullying being due to Christian religious belief. They use flawed and long-dismissed research or misrepresent good research to "prove" that non-Christians are bad parents who should not have custody of their children. Some of the groups have even actively campaigned in other nations to have various non-Christian religions criminalized so that non-Christians would be rounded up, imprisoned, even executed. These groups, you learn, are not considered hate groups because they hold that non-Christians are going to hell, but because they actively defame non-Christians. They aren't so much supporting Christian religious rights as they are opposing non-Christian religious rights.

And Beef-pat-T gives a portion of its profits to these groups. This is what the big kahuna cheerily admitted in his interview with that Christian magazine and claimed to be just supporting Christian religious rights.

Is it really a responsible choice to give Beef-pat-T your money?

This is the situation with Chick-Fil-A, traditional marriage, and anti-LGBT hate groups. No one is trying to force Mr. Cathy to stop believing that homosexuality is condemned in scriptures. No is asking him to compromise his beliefs. No one is asking him to not give his money to groups that support and strengthen traditional marriage.

What they are asking is that he stop giving his money to hate groups that use lies and deceit to harm LGBT people, who use fear to incite hatred toward LGBT people, who use malice as a money-raising scheme.

It is your choice whether to support Chick-Fil-A, but make no mistake, this isn't about freedom of belief, traditional marriage, or whether homosexuality is immoral or not. This is about whether it's responsible to give money to a corporation who is going to turn around and give part of that money to a group lobbying vis deceit to allow children to be beaten up in school without consequences, to have men and women executed by their government, and to tear children from their parents.

This isn't a matter of Christians vs. the LGBT lobby. This is a matter of groups using a Christian image to justify anti-Christian behavior.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. -- Matthew 7:15-20

Edit: Some people will use the excuse that other companies are just as bad or worse than Chick-Fil-A. They are quite right that corporations are often quite immoral or amoral. The consumer needs to be aware of his or her impact and choose wisely. You will make mistakes and end up supporting corporations that do not follow your values all the time. This doesn't excuse someone from knowingly supporting a corporation that is funding hate groups. And it certainly doesn't excuse people who are claiming those who are choosing not to eat at Chick-Fil-A are being anti-Christian or opposed to Mr. Cathy's freedom of speech and religion.

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Open Letter to Christian Parents of LGBT Children

I'm addressing this letter to parents whose children have come out to them or have otherwise been discovered by them to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, questioning, or otherwise "queer". I'm especially addressing those parents who are struggling with the interaction of their faith and their duties as parents to their kids of LGBT identity.

For many parents, this can be a difficult time, one that challenges their faith. After all, doesn't the Bible promise "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it"? How then can your child abandon the clear teachings of scripture for such an identity? It seems the only clear choices are either that the Bible promise is untrue or that you did something wrong as a parent.

First, you need to know that God chose you to be the parent of your LGBT child. It was a relationship He chose to work for your benefit, for your child's well-being, and for His glory. Trust Him to know what He's doing and open your heart to His leading.

Second, please keep in mind that what your child is telling you is about his or her attractions, not his or her sex life. Think back to when you were young and you had your first crush-- how tongue-tied and breathless and heart-pounding it was to be in the presence of your crush; how you thought about them, talked about them, may have doodled their name. It wasn't about sex. Indeed, you were probably too young at the time to even think about more than possibly holding hands. Just being in their presence seemed like enough for an eternity. Think about the first time you fell in love. You didn't choose who you fell in love with. It just happened. This is the same experience your gay or lesbian child has had-- only his or her first crush, his or her first love was someone of the same sex. Even though this information is new to you, keep in mind that this is the same child as before he or she came out to you. He or she has always been LGBT. You just didn't know it. He was gay when he was 8. She was bi when she was 6. Sie was genderqueer at age 11. Put aside the idea that this is only or even primarily about sex.

Third, allow me to assure you that your child's LGBT identity is not in any way your fault. Many ministries will claim that LGBT identity is due to something the parents did-- their marriage was poor, they were too clingy or too distant, too permissive or too strict, and so on. They are wrong. Your child is LGBT for the simple reason that they were born neurologically different than the majority. While there have been some studies indicating genetic and fetal development has a part, the simple fact is that human sexuality is complex and we don't fully know what causes a person to be LGBT. What we do know is that it is inborn and unchosen.

But what of Proverbs 22:6? Regardless of what science says, doesn't scripture say that this is somehow your fault?

The book Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors By Douglas K. Stuart has this to say about this particular verse:

This verse is usually translated about as follows: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." But when you analyze the words' meaning ranges closely, you find no Hebrew equivalent for the English "should." ...

(Remember: The more well known a wording in the Bible is, the more hesitant modern professional translations are to depart from it, even when they dislike it, for fear that people will not buy a Bible that has changed the wording of one of their "favorite verses.") ...

Thus with regard to Proverbs 22:6, what you can easily determine by patiently consulting a lexicon is that [al-piy] means "according to" and that [derek] means simply "way," so that [darko] means either "his way" or "his own way." The first half of this poetic couplet actually says, then, "Train a child according to his (own) way." You still find nothing about "should" here. The real point of the verse, you conclude rightly, is that a child who is allowed selfishly to do what he or she wants when young will have the same selfish tendencies as an adult.

In other words, this verse isn't a promise, but a warning similar to many others in Proverbs. So, no, dear parents, you are not at fault for your child's LGBT identity. You have not trained up your child wrong. Rest easy and do not let others heap blame on you.

I want to take a moment here to specifically address parents of trans* children. Many people accuse trans* folks of going against God's obvious will for their lives if they seek to inhabit the gender with which they identify by in any way changing their body, or adopting the dress, habits, and name of their identified gender. These people argue "God made you male/female and you shouldn't mess with that." These arguments ignore two factors. One, scientific studies have shown that trans* people are neurologically similar to those of the gender they identify with, rather than those of their genital sex. It is simplistic to claim that God's will for a person's life rests only in the genitalia he or she was born with but not in his or her brain. Second, we correct many abnormalities and birth defects without giving a second thought to whether correcting them violates God's will. Deaf children are given cochlear implants. Those with cleft palates and cleft lips have those deformities repaired. Children with holes in their hearts have those closed. We fix a myriad of issues. Now, I'm not claiming that gender dysphoria is a birth defect or a deformity, but for many trans* people, keeping the sex they were born with is not optimal in much the same way as leaving a birth defect as-is is often not optimal, though in many cases it is survivable. We seek to relieve these children's suffering. We should do no less for trans* people.

But now let us return to that parenthetical statement up there. "Remember: The more well known a wording in the Bible is, the more hesitant modern professional translations are to depart from it, even when they dislike it, for fear that people will not buy a Bible that has changed the wording of one of their 'favorite verses.'"

I want you to think about that. I want you to consider that maybe the clear teachings of scripture aren't what you think they are. The simple fact of the matter is that Bible translators are human. They come to their task with biases, both personal and cultural. And they are also swayed by the need to have their translation accepted by eventual users and purchasers. Anything that deviates too far from previous understandings and cultural norms is likely to be rejected, and their translation job with it.

Before you speak to your child about the clear teachings of scriptures, I encourage you to study the passages in question. Consider their contexts-- both the people to whom they were written, the culture they were written within, and the original textual meanings. Don't automatically accept that the English translations are correct. Please, dear parents, don't drive your child from his or her faith, from your love, or from your home by rejecting them based on a handful of scriptures. I have included a few resources below.

I believe when you have studied God's word, that you will find there is no shame in your child's LGBT identity. It's no more sinful than dark skin or blue eyes or left-handedness or being ADHD.

So what should you say to your child?

First, you need to assure him or her of your unconditional love. God's love is unchanging, regardless of what we have done or not done. As much as you are able, your love for your child should be likewise. Do not withhold your love out of some sense that your child can or will change their sexual orientation to win it back. If you have already spoken hurtful or unloving things, honestly seek your child's forgiveness.

Second, you need to make sure your child knows that you appreciate the honesty and trust he or she has shown you and that you are willing to do more listening and less talking. This is not about you. This is not about what the church or the neighbours or your maiden auntie will think. This is about your child learning to live inside the body they were created to inhabit. For any person, this can be a hard journey. For a child who is somehow different, it can be even more difficult. Suicide statistics for LGBT teens are frightening, but the one bright spot among them is that LGBT teens with supportive families are far less likely to give in to despair than those whose families reject them. Be that family. Allow him or her to share struggles and joys and hopes and dreams. Allow this to be something that brings you together, rather than separating you.

Third, reassure him or her that you are on this spiritual journey together to understand God's will for your family. This is not a time to preach, but a time to seek. Seek together and remember to listen more than you speak. I know there's a temptation to rush here, to either completely reject the idea that same-sex relationships could be moral or to abandon those scripture passages altogether for the sake of your child. Please, don't feel pressured to rush. Make sure your child understands that this may take time, but that you will not abandon your love for him or her. Your support for your child is important, but so is your faith. Take the time to nurture both.

Fourth, as a parent, you can and should hold your LGBT child to the same standards to which you would hold a cisgendered (that is to say, someone whose physical sex and neurological gender match up) and straight child. By remaining open and honest as a parent, you can uphold values of love and respect in romantic relationships, regardless of whether those relationships are opposite sex or same sex. But! This should not be the focus of your parenting any more than it is the focus of your relationship with your straight children. Sexual orientation and gender identity should not be cause for mistrust.

Fifth and last, it is understandable that you might experience a period of grieving for the lost dreams and hopes you had for your child, for an imagined future that will never be. Just simply by virtue of being a gender or sexual minority, your child is going to face more difficulties in life. But in truth, none of us have ever led a "normal life" because there is no such thing. Now is the time to give those dreams a good, hard look, grieve them for a while, and then set them aside to embrace a hope for the future based in your child's newly disclosed truth. The dreams may change in ways large and small, but if you are there for your child, they are more likely to be realised.

Some reading or watching you can do:
What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality by Daniel Helminiak
The Best Case for the Bible NOT Condemning Homosexuality by John Shore
Ron Goetz on the Clobber Passages
Ron Goetz on Translator Bias's Review of the Views on the Bible and Homosexuality
Homosexuality and the Bible, a review of two perspectives by Loren L. Johns, Professor of New Testament at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality video-- long, but worthwhile.
Two movies I highly recommend are For the Bible Tells Me So and Fish Out of Water, which were both available on Netflix streaming at the time of this writing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Godless Sodomites: Apostolic Truth Tabernacle of Greensburg, IN

This is the first of my series of posts on people who qualify as Godless Sodomites (see that post for a definition). This one is close to home for me, being in my home state.

The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle of Greensburg, Indiana, is now infamous for a video of a 4- or 5-year-old kid singing "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It to Heaven" during a church service while the congregation claps and cheers. After this hate-filled performance, the church's pastor, Jeff Sangl, praised the boy as well.

Here's a link to the RTV Channel 6 story about it.

Further news stories reveal that the pastor and church members have claimed they're getting death threats, but the County Sheriff, who was dealing with Sangl over church security after the video went viral, before Sangl up and decided to hightail it out of town for a while, says that's news to him. During this entire thing, Sangl never bothered to mention the death threats, even though he was dealing with the Sheriff for the purpose of making sure the church was safe. I'm not going to say that the claims of death threats are lies, but seriously who doesn't mention a little thing like death threats to the nice law enforcement officer who is trying to assure that you and your church members are safe?

Also of note is that this community is not ignorant of the devastation that is caused by this kind of rhetoric. In September of 2010, 15-year-old Billy Lucas committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied at Greensburg High School because he was perceived as being gay. These people know the heartbreak this sort of thing can lead to.

And yet, they're remorselessly sticking to their guns. Here's the statement from the church website:

5/30/12 - The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives. We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.

That's right, folks! Telling an entire segment of the population that they absolutely will not make it into heaven, that they're inherently too sinful to be covered by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, is not at all hateful and is scriptural.

Here's a quote from Dillen Swango, a fellow student of Billy Lucas', following Billy's suicide: "They said stuff like 'You're like a piece of crap' and 'You don't deserve to live.' Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever." I'm sure by the standards of the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle, those statements are also scriptural and not hateful.

To Pastor Sangl and members of the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle I have this to say: You have committed the sins of Soddom by being prideful and holier-than-thou and have lied by claiming to love God while hating your neighbors. You are Godless Sodomites.

To those who are incensed at this church and pastor, protest by going and donating in the name of this church or its pastor to any of the following organisations:

Indiana LGBT Organisations

Indiana Youth Group

Indiana Equality

Quarryland Men's Chorus

Pride of Indy Bands


The Damien Center

National LGBT Organisations

American Veterans For Equal Rights

Born this Way Foundation

GLAAD - Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

GLSEN – Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

Harvey Milk Foundation

Human Rights Campaign

Lambda Legal

National Center for Lesbian Rights

NGL Task Force - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

PFLAG National

Renaissance Education Association

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

TGI Justice Project

Transgender American Veterans Association

TransYouth Family Allies

The Trevor Project

Believe Out Loud

Canyonwalker Connections

Empowering Spirits Foundation

Faith in America

The Gay Christian Network

Horizons Foundation

Rising Sun Ministries

Soul Force

Truth Wins Out

Make these donations, if you can, in the name of
Apostolic Truth Tabernacle
Attn: Pastor Jeff Sangl
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 644, Greensburg, IN 47240
Church Phone: (812) 662-8224

Please, do not call the church and harass them. The number above is provided in case the donation form asks for one. Also, be sure to make a significant donation. One that is too small will not cover the cost of postage!

Be sure to drop the church a line to let them know you donated to a good cause in their name!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Godless Sodomites

I think it’s well past time to call out the Godless Sodomites of our day and age.

Oh, I'm not talking about LGBT people. The Bible is very clear on what the sin of Sodom really is-- Ezekiel 16:49 says "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

In every nation on this globe, but perhaps moreso in the US today, there are people who commit the sins of Sodom, who look down on the poor and needy and only strengthen the already-strong hand of the wealthy and powerful. They let schools crumble, children go hungry, families go without needed medical care, and the number of the homeless grow unchecked while refusing to lift a finger to do any good. And they elect public officials who will continue to let the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. All the while, the poor are painted as lazy people who just need to get a job and be more responsible with their money.

These prideful, haughty people are the Sodomites of our day.

Many of these people claim to love God and to uphold His commands, and yet they are also Godless. 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Make no mistake-- people who promote hate and intolerance in the name of God are liars. And liars are doing the work of their master, the Father of Lies, not the work of God. In today's world, we see hatred aimed at certain groups more than others-- non-Christians, LGBT people, women who wish to exercise stewardship of their own reproductive health, and the poor and needy.

People who behave in ways that are prideful, disdainful of the poor and needy, and hateful to others “in the name of God” are being called out more and more, but it is often secular organizations and media doing the calling out. It's time for Christians to stand up and oppose the true Godless Sodomites of our time.

More than that, it's time for action. Whenever we see someone calling for creating concentration camps for or the outright extermination of LGBT people, denying funds for poor women to access basic health services, or criminalize homelessness, we need to frame a response full of grace and generosity. Don't just oppose these people with your words, but help organizations that are aiding the targets of these Godless Sodomites' hatred. Even better is to find the address of the particular offensive person and donate in his or her name.

As a start, here's an article with links to various LGBT-oriented charities you can donate to in the name of Pastor Charles Worley and others of his ilk-- The God Article's Wickedly Beautiful Response.

I'd like to start collecting the names and addresses of various Godless Sodomites and organizations appropriate to each so that we can do something positive in response to these folks.

Up first on our list of Godless Sodomites, the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle of Greensburg, Indiana.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Struggling with Homosexuality

There's this phrase that gets used in religious circles when someone comes out as gay-- "struggling with homosexuality". It's always struck me as a really stupid phrase.

Most gay people, once they've come out, aren't struggling with homosexuality. They've accepted it as part of who they are. They may be struggling to understand how that impacts their life now, how to go forward in honesty and integrity as a gay man or lesbian. They may be struggling a lot with rejection and condemnation piled on them because of who they are. They struggle to find a place in a society that assumes heterosexuality. But they aren't struggling with their sexuality.

What people are actually implying with the phrase is that they believe the person is struggling with the consequences of some unwise choices they are assumed to have made in their actual sex lives. The assumption is that anyone who comes out as a homosexual has had sex because, hey, the word "sex" is right there in the word. Sometimes we give them the benefit of the doubt and figure they've come out as a sort of early warning of impending sexual relations, a sort of "I'm telling you this now because I'm planning to go out and get a boyfriend/girlfriend and have lots of sex" thing. Given that teens and even children are coming out younger and younger as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (one blogger on Huffington Post has been sharing her adventures as the mother of a boy who at the age of 7 announced that he was gay), those kinds of assumptions just aren't appropriate. Gay people are gay regardless of whether they are or have ever had or ever intend to have same-sex sex.

Now, sometimes gay people have made unwise sexual choices and have to deal with the consequences, or are trying to decide if it's okay to start a same-sex sexual relationship. But, you know, if a woman gets pregnant outside of marriage and has to make difficult choices for what to do, we don't say she's "struggling with heterosexuality." A man who is facing a divorce because of an affair with a woman not his wife isn't "struggling with heterosexuality." A girl trying to decide if she should cave to pressure from her boyfriend to have sex (or vice-versa-- girls aren't innocent of putting pressure on boys for sex) isn't "struggling with heterosexuality." We call those things what they are. We don't wrap the blame up in the person's sexual identity.

The truth is, it's us straight people who struggle with homosexuality. We don't understand the attractions they feel. We're not sure where our religious convictions should lie. Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. We don't know how to explain those two men kissing to our kids. Sometimes our assumptions of heterosexual orientation in another person get quite flattened and we are caught off-guard and feeling a bit foolish that we didn't know or hurt that we weren't told earlier. We struggle with homosexuality.

But gay people? Not so much.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On the Claim of Gay-as-Choice

Lately I've been hanging out a lot on progressive Christian blogger John Shore's blog at as well as on several Facebook pages by progressive Christian groups such as Thru-Way Christians and The Christian Left. I also have a lot of LGBTQIA friends on Facebook who post various things of interest to LGBTQIA rights and issues.

In all these places, you will encounter people who are opposed to GLBTQIA equality based on various arguments about its sinfulness, always accompanied by the claim that GLB orientation is a choice and the assumption that GLB orientation is accompanied by non-heterosexual sexual activity. If anyone takes the time to address these folks instead of simply calling them names, they usually point to either scientific studies or their own personal experience that this orientation was not a choice. I don't think I've ever seen anyone convinced by these arguments.

I think the problem is, these people are also arguing from personal experience, and their personal experience doesn't align with the scientific studies or the experiences of GLB persons. I also think it comes from a confusion of terms.

Let me unfold this a bit.

Somewhere I ran across the statistic that one study had polled a bunch of men who identified as heterosexual and found that 50% of them admitted to homosexual behaviors. Now, I'm not saying a straight man couldn't go and have gay sex with another man, but a truly heterosexual man generally wouldn't unless placed in a longterm situation where that was his only choice (like, say, prison). That 50% of these straight men admitted to homosexual sexual behaviors tells me that they're using a definition of "heterosexual" that isn't the scientific one.

For most people, your sexuality means what you do sexually most of the time. To the scientific community, sexuality has to do with your attractions, not your behaviors. Someone who has practiced lifelong celibacy, for instance, still has a sexuality. Someone like ex-ex-gay leader John Smid, who is in a heterosexual marriage with children, is still gay, despite his sexual behavior.

And that's where the disconnect comes in.

Many people are some level of bisexual in orientation, even if it's extremely slight. For those who define their sexuality by what they've done with it, rather than by their attractions, and who believe that same-sex sexual activity is morally wrong, their heterosexuality is a choice. No, they didn't wake up one day and say, "I think I'll be straight," but they have avoided by choice same-sex behaviors with people they are attracted to, quite possibly on a regular basis.

For those who define sexuality as what-you-do and not what-you-are and are further hampered by the narcissistic worldview that everyone's experiences are similar to their own, a homosexual is one who engages in same-sex sex by choice because from these people's points of view, everyone is attracted to both sexes and, therefore, chooses their sexual behavior. The thought that there are people who are mono-sexual-- only attracted to one sex or the other and not both, and therefore incapable of choosing sexual attraction to or behavior with the non-preferred sex-- is completely, profoundly incomprehensible.

I am a straight mono-sexual woman. The thought of having sex with a woman isn't so much repugnant as simply unimaginable. It isn't a choice. I don't actively avoid attractions to the same sex. I simply don't have any. For me, the thought that there are people in the world who have the same mono-sexual attractions, but to the same sex, isn't that much of a reach.

But for the vast majority of people sitting somewhere in the middle who misunderstand the nature and definition of sexuality, it seems like a choice-- a choice they've rejected.

I understand the anger GLBTQIA people have and why they don't want to engage people who have systematically oppressed them. They shouldn't have to deal with these folks if they don't want to. Their energies are better spent focusing on surviving and thriving in a world that is so often hostile to them.

So maybe it's time for us allies to step up and have a discussion with the misguided. I'm open to thoughts on how to open this dialogue, given what I think is often at the heart of the misunderstanding.