The headline of the Technology Sections of the New York Times, Bloomberg Business Week, USA Today & Fox News amongst many others today is “Tim Cook, Apple Chief, Says He Is ‘Proud to Be Gay.’ Social media spreads the story quickly and by breakfast time, links to their respective articles were prominent in the Facebook news feed morning blend along with World Series recaps and political fodder.
On the surface, coming out may not seem like the big deal it used to be until reviewing the comments left by the Facebook community today to those very articles about Mr. Cook. As was the case in previous famous coming outs, his was sometimes denounced as a self-serving publicity stunt while nearly always asking the question “If gays want to be left alone, why do they keep throwing their sexuality in our faces?” That deserves an answer and it will receive one today.
First, the word “sexuality” is a bit of a misnomer. A personal declaration is not made to punish, provoke or fill your mind with explicit imagery of bumping uglies. If you go there, that’s frankly on you. It is about saying who we love. The sum total of human sexuality, gay or straight, does not begin and end with arousal: that can be sublimated, suppressed, or encouraged. What can’t be controlled is the stirrings of your heart: the rush of what it feels like to be in love, to find out the one you have feelings for also has feelings for you. The rapid heartbeat, the flush in the face, the quickening of the pulse is beyond human control. Love is love and love does not come with an off switch.
Second, the subtext of “If you want to be left alone, why do you keep throwing your sexuality in our faces?” is the passive/aggressive version of “Why can’t it be like it used to when we didn’t have to even hear about you people?” The reason is that non-partisan public polls & think tanks, such as the Pew Research Forum, have shown that consistently over the past several decades, that the chief factor in diminishing personal discrimination against homosexuality is the increased awareness of having gay relatives & friends who you come to know not to be the amoral, social jihadists you were warned about. That is sometimes very difficult to reconcile when religious views on the subject have been much, much slower to change.
In the recent synod, Pope Francis’s attempted defrosting of the Church’s general sentiment towards homosexuality was vehemently rebuked by the majority of Bishops in attendance. This serves as a bold reminder that the long standing demonization of homosexuality will not be abandoned hastily by them, or in turn, by members of their congregations. It does, however, represent an historic first step.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the L-rd and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”
Here at home, Ohio Senator Rob Portman recently asked, and answered, the same question.
A proud republican conservative from the heartland, a key Romney advisor and seriously vetted as a possible Vice-President, Senator Portman wrote an op-ed that appeared in the March 15, 2013 edition of “The Columbus Dispatch” expressing his support for gay marriage and his gay son, who had recently come out of the closet.
Speaking poignantly on how to reconcile the love of their son and their Christian faith, the Senator said
“Will (his son) said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he was. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he was gay, but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.”
If we disagree, I respect your opinion. If you are bothered by coming out articles, do not read them. Just know they are there when the day comes someone you care about cares enough about you to do this very thing.
Bravo, Tim Cook, and thank you.