“When You Say Nothing At All”

“Homosexuality is a belief! It’s not mandatory in that person. That person is not “Born That Way”, no matter what Lady Gaga says. That person is not born that way! It is a decision!”

Caiden Cowger

This is an infamous quote from Caiden Cowger’s viral, but hilarious train wreck of a video called “Obama Is Making Kids Gay.” Immediately following those first four sentences, Cowger goes on this rant about President Obama and that he is encouraging young teenagers to “become gay.” He even had the audacity to bring up his former friends from elementary and middle school and claim they were “not homosexual” when he knew them. To no surprise, his video received a plethora of criticism from LGBT advocates around the world. The Huffington Post even joined the party and wrote an article about him.

I am willing to admit that his comments did make me angry. This video was made two years ago, and I was still new to “the gay scene.” I still am trying to figure out what my sexuality means to me. Part of the long process is figuring out what to do about those annoying homophobes we encounter on the internet and in our everyday lives. Caiden Cowger is the type of homophobe who knows that his comments are bound to anger the LGBT community and our straight allies. He not only wants the attention because he profits from it. He wants the attention because it (supposedly) validates his hateful and divisive views about people who he does not find appealing. Lastly, we should not forget the delusion that his mindset is the exact opposite of genuine love and concern for your fellow man.

Personally, I did not feel the need to respond to Caiden Cowger. After all, many users have done so already. I honestly believe that he deserves the heated criticism for making such remarks about a “lifestyle” that he is still too immature to understand. This brings up one important question when I encounter people who spew rhetoric just like he does. How should I react to such a person if I should encounter them?

It was a warm and humid Wednesday morning. I was volunteering at a local church for Meals on Wheels. Chicken salad sandwiches were on the menu for those who wanted cold brown bag meal. It was my job to scoop the mixture onto two slices of bread and place them in plastic bags. Simple enough job, right? It is common for the workers to engage in small talk while we are preparing a meal. Sometimes, the conversation can turn political or religious. Just the other day, Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality was declared unconstitutional. I was ecstatic when I heard the news. The entire Northeastern United States has finally embraced marriage equality! However, my enthusiasm was not shared by everyone. The man sitting across from me began to talk about the potential severe weather in the forecast. I did not expect the direction of which it was about to turn. We will call this man Mr. Taylor. (Notice these are fake names!) The conversation went something like this.

Mr. Smith: “I can’t believe all of this nasty weather in the forecast for today. (Brief pause.) I think God is trying to tell us something! He is clearly not happy! Did you hear about that same-sex marriage ruling for Pennsylvania? Some federal judge ruled the ban unconstitutional!  (An older woman was listening to the conversation. We will call her Mrs. White. She immediately chimed in.)

Mrs. White: “That’s terrible! God does not approve! They should have let the people decide! I thought the Bishop was opposed to gay marriage! Why didn’t he try to stop that?” 

(Mrs. White is apparently a Conservative Catholic. A brief pause follows.)

Mr. Smith: “He is against it! Mayor Peduto probably asked people in those gay bars to voice their opinion and fool us into thinking that we want this in Pennsylvania!

(short pause, then he continues)

 You know what’s more disgusting? Protestant churches are now calling homosexual pastors! The bible says that homosexuality is disgusting, immoral and wrong!  My denomination ordains gay pastors, but our parish did not agree to call one. We don’t want some gay pastor shoving his lifestyle choice down our throats!”

Mrs. White: “Well, they will have to answer to God someday. You never know what the government will demand us to accept next. Polygamy? Pedophilia? Sex with animals?” 

(Topic of conversation changes.)

I must admit that I wanted to respond to their blatant ignorance. “Sir, you happen to be talking to somebody who is out of the closet! Shame on you for being so ignorant!” However, I forced myself to say absolutely nothing. I just sat there and I continued to make the sandwiches. After all, they were not directly speaking to me. (I doubt they even know I am gay.) I have made a vow to myself. I will never live according to the standards of other people. It does not matter if they stem from religious indoctrination, general ignorance or even both. I can only hope that Caiden will wise up and learn to respect people for who they are. However, my prayers have yet to be answered. Some may disagree, but I think I did the right thing. I will remember this experience in the future and remind myself of one thing. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.

My letter to Steve Grand

(click above)



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