Danny Duncan Collum's implication that lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans seeking equal protection under the law are in the same league as Ted Kaczynski because "radical individualism...fuels the drives for gay rights" is another example in a long line of blaming the victim ("Eyes & Ears," July-August 1996).
We are driven out of our churches, families of origin, social groups, schools, and even political movements because of our sexual orientation. When we attempt to rebuild the community that is so crucial to human development and happiness—churches, groups, families of choice, political organizations—we are accused of opposing and seeking to destroy the communities that have sent us into exile.
We are denied access to the social institutions that affirm and legitimize our lifelong partnerships, then we are accused of being unable to sustain long-term relationships. Our identity in the dominant culture is defined strictly in terms of our sexual behavior, then we are accused of being obsessed with sex. And now, because we fight relentlessly to be participants in the larger community as full citizens—with all of the rights and protections guaranteed to all Americans in our social contract, the Constitution—we are accused of engaging in "a rejection of collective obligations or concerns."
Those who feel gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are perverts, living in opposition to the laws of God, Christ, Allah, Vishnu, (fill in the blank) and express the desire never to have one of these individuals as a personal friend has every right to those beliefs. But when those beliefs deny another individual and/or community access to health care, housing, employment, the formation of interpersonal relationships and families, physical safety, and even life, the right to those beliefs comes to an end.
This is required not just to protect an individual whose "lifestyle" is seen by his or her neighbors as an unacceptable "alternative," but to create a community that is safe, just, and includes the gifts and resources of all people. As Dr. King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Real community cannot survive where hate and exclusion flourish.
A good place for all of us in this country to start is to stop taking cheap shots at one another and engage in real, constructive dialogue. The "Food for Thought" program mentioned in the same issue of Sojourners ("Groundswell," by Steve Rabey) is an excellent example.
Washington, D.C., via Internet