It happens any time I write (or link to someone else’s post or article) about certain groups of people opposing gay rights, or those people doing really awful things in the name of opposing gay rights, et cetera: a direct message, private email, or (rarely) a public comment from someone explaining that “not all of us are like that.”
Sometimes it’s nothing more than that simple statement: we’re not all like that. More often it is a bit defensive. “You really shouldn’t generalize, because you make those of us who aren’t like that look bad.” The phenomenon happens so often, that advice columnist & gay rights advocate Dan Savage has started referring to those people as NALTs, for “Not All Like That.”
The thing is, that “you make those of us who aren’t like that look bad” is utterly false.
I’m not the one making them look bad. If I post a link to a story about a study that shows that nearly 75% of those who describe themselves as Evangelical Christians oppose gay rights, it isn’t me who is making those Christians who don’t oppose gay rights look bad, it’s the other Christians who are making Christians look bad.
If someone posts a piece showing how an organization is cherry-picking facts from a study which actually proves that the denial of equal rights harms the health of gays and lesbians to support their lies that being gay is unhealthy, it isn’t us who is making Christians look like liars. It’s the liar who claims to be speaking for Christ who is making Christians look like liars. It’s also the Christians who disagree with him but who are too timid to confront him about his lies who are making Christians look like liars and bigots. And it is especially those Christians who are too timid to confront their co-religionists but never hesitate to scold someone like me because they’re “not all like that” who are making Christians look like liars and bigots.
And that means, instead of scolding me for posting it, or “correcting” anyone who posts these news tidbits, you need to go scold or correct your co-religionists. Tell them you disagree. Tell them that they are lying. Speak out in public forums when they lie, and tell them they don’t speak for you.
I mean, really, my major in college was Mathematics and I posted the article which said nearly 75% of Evangelical Christians oppose gay rights. I don’t need you to tell me that nearly 75% is less than 100%. I already know that not all are like that.
I understand why people may be reluctant to confront the liars and bigots in their group. Those bigots and liars are mean, and they don’t fight fair. I get it. Really, I do. But if you’re too timid to go take them on, then keep your mouth shut. Whispering to people like me that “we aren’t all like that” doesn’t help me, it doesn’t prevent any of the meanness, nor does it further the causes of truth or justice. The only thing it does is make you feel better about being too cowardly to actually do anything about the lies and the bigotry.
And I have exactly zero desire to enable that!
If you happen to be one of those who are not like that, and are looking for something more concrete to do than whisper to people like me that you exist, may I suggest you get involved in one of these fine organizations: