Heterosexual privilege in modern America | Column

Heterosexual privilege in modern America | Column

Local columnist dives into sexual discrimination.

  • Friday, March 29, 2019 12:03pm
  • Opinion

By Roger Ledbetter

Special to the Record

Progressive talk-show host, Tom Hartmann, speaks of “white privilege” as being able to wake up in the morning and not fear being harmed because of the color of your skin. Isn’t there also a heterosexual privilege? Heterosexuals don’t awaken fearing being hurt because of their sexuality. Nor do they have to hide it. I can hold my wife’s hand in public, or give her a quick kiss, without fear.

Jesus rescued an adulterous woman from being stoned, saying, “Ye without sin, cast the first stone.” Was the woman unfaithful with another woman? If so, wouldn’t Jesus’s admonition still apply? We’ll never know because, as evangelical President Jimmy Carter said, Jesus never spoke of homosexuality. An ambiguous statement from Saint Paul notwithstanding, Christians have to go back to Leviticus to find homosexuality called an abomination. But now we abhor many ancient customs in Leviticus. Yet today, many cast stones at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

Sexual minorities don’t have the privilege of fair and equal treatment. Their daily lives are marred by fear and hiding who they are. Take the recent incident at a Seahawks game in Seattle. Two married women attended a game. A self-righteous homophobe took it upon himself to punish them. Getting up frequently to buy beer, he made a point of stepping on their feet, snarling ugly remarks like, “Do you need a man in your life?” When he grabbed one woman by her breast, her wife tried to stop him. He bloodied her nose, breaking one of her teeth. Surgery was required to repair the injury. If you saw the video of the man punching her, then you witnessed unbridled hatred. Probably thinking himself a patriot, he appears to have forgotten the words “…endowed with inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Sexual minorities are one of the most abused of all our minorities. Violent acts against sexual minorities are common. In Orlando, Fla., 49 people were murdered in a “gay bar.” And it doesn’t stop with murder. When Mathew Shepard was crucified on a barbed wire fence in 1998 in Wyoming, the Westboro Baptist Church staged an anti-gay protest harassing mourners at his funeral.

With all the hate directed at sexual minorities, why in the world would anyone choose to be part of the LGBT community? Well, they don’t. When gay friends have trusted me enough to confide, all have said it’s who they’ve always been.

Recent studies suggest a genetic predisposition for sexual orientation. David Suzuki explored the science in a documentary. One theory is that women, with a particularly strong heterosexual orientation, pass that genetic tendency to their sons.

LGBT people exist in every culture, and it doesn’t appear to be a choice. Rather sexual orientation appears to be a deep part of who we are. If I try to remember when I “chose” to be heterosexual, I can’t. It’s who I’ve always been. Imagine trying to change your own sexual orientation, and you will gain a little empathy.

“Conversion therapy,” promoted by the religious-right, claims to change sexual orientation. New York just became the 15th state to outlaw “conversion therapy” for minors. A similar ban failed to pass in Colorado, leaving 35 states allowing the practice, even though it increases depression, doubles suicides and is ineffective in changing sexual orientation. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Seems like conversion therapy has all seven abominations.

The majority of Americans want to heal the divisiveness in our culture, but many “…sow discord among brothers,” letting private matters divide us.

We heal divisiveness when we follow John 13:34: “A greater commandment I give to you: Love one another….” and allow fellow Americans their private “…pursuit of happiness.”

Roger Ledbetter is a politically-active resident of the Valley. He and his family have lived in Snoqualmie since 1979. Contact Roger Ledbetter through the editor by email: editor@valleyrecord.com.

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Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray’s research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India. She is a resident of Kirkland.
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