Monday, February 25, 2013

Study Find More Acceptance of Gay Teens

The following article was published in the Houston Chronicle on Monday, February 4, 2013.

Associate Press

CHICAGO - It really does get better for gay and bisexual teens when it comes to being bullied, although young gay men have it worse than their lesbian peers, according to the first long-term scientific evidence on how the problem changes over time.

The seven-year study involved more than 4,000 teens in England who were questioned yearly through 2010, until they were 19 and 20 years old. At the start, just over half of the 187 gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had been bullied; by 2010 that dropped to 9 percent of gay and bisexual boys and 6 percent of lesbian and bisexual girls. The researchers said the same results likely would be found in the United States.

Changing attitudes
In both countries, a "sea change" in cultural acceptance of gays and growing intolerance for bullying occurred during the study years, which partly explains the results, said study co-author Ian Rivers, a psychologist and professor of human development at BruneI University in London. That includes a government mandate in England that schools work to prevent bullying, and changes in the U.S. permitting same-sex marriage in several states.

In 2010, syndicated columnist Dan Savage launched the "It Gets Better" video project to encourage bullied gay teens. It was prompted by widely publicized suicides of young gays and includes videos from politicians and celebrities.

"Bullying tends to decline with age regardless of sexual orientation and gender," and the study confirms that, said co-author Joseph Robinson, a researcher and assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. "In absolute terms, this would suggest that yes, it gets better." The study appears online ... in the journal Pediatrics.

Nuanced results
Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said the results mirror surveys by her anti-bullying advocacy group that show bullying is more common in U.S. middle schools than in high schools.

But the researchers said their results show the situation is more nuanced for young gay men.

In the first years of the study, gay boys and girls were almost twice as likely to be bullied as their straight peers. By the last year, bullying dropped overall and was at about the same level for lesbians and straight girls. But the difference between men got worse by ages 19 and 20, with gay young men almost four times more likely than their straight peers to be bullied.

The mixed results for young gay men may reflect the fact that masculine tendencies in girls and women are more culturally acceptable than femininity in boys and men, Robinson said.

Savage, not involved in the study, agreed.

"A lot of the disgust that people feel when you bring up homosexuality ... centers around gay male sexuality," Savage said.


I am happy to say that my own personal experience with my gay friends bears out the finding of this recent study, thinks have gotten better though we still have a ways to go.

As I have mentioned many times, one of my best friends is one of my gay friends, Mike. I introduced Mike, who is not from Texas, to another gay friend who is from Texas about ten years ago. Before I knew it, they had fallen in love. Mike moved to Texas, and they are now partnered and doing well.

When Mike moved to Texas, I felt I had to warn him that Texas remains a conservative state and he and his partner needed to keep that in mind. Some Texans, I told him, could take any display of affection between two guys as an invitation to fight. "Keep a low profile," I warned him.

Sure enough, Mike had not been in Texas but a few weeks when he and his partner attended the Gay Pride Parade in downtown Houston. Mike is one of those guys who no one would ever pick to be gay. He is big and quite capable of taking care of himself. His partner, on the other hand, is a great guy; but he fits some of the usual gay stereotypes. Most people who pay any attention, suspect he is gay.

At the parade, the Houston Fire Department had a float from which they were throwing Mardi Gras type beads to the crowd. Innocently enough, Mike's partner assumed since the fire fighters were in the parade, they were gay friendly. In reality, they had probably been ordered by their chief to man the float to promote community relations. Mike's partner hollered at one of the fire fighters to throw him some beads. Instead of throwing them in the usual manner, he rolled them up in a ball and flung them as hard as he could, yelling, "Here you go faggot!"

That was a mistake on his part. Before the fire fighter knew what was happening, Mike had hauled him off the float and was beating the crap out of him. Police quickly broke up the fight; luckily, before Mike hurt him too badly. Now, everyone knows there is not a lot of love lost between the fire fighters and the police, but when it comes to choosing sides, the fire fighters and the police will often side with each other before they will side with a gay guy. Such was the case, Mike was introduced, not unjustly, to the the City Jail where he spent the night. When I chided him about not maintaining a low profile, he said it had been well worth the jail time. I told him he had no idea what he had done to that poor fire fighter. Not only had he beat him up, he had beat him up in front of his friends. For the rest of his career that poor fire fighter will have to hear about the time he was beat up by the queer!

But it was a good lesson for Mike and his partner, and they have been very careful in public since that incident. But as the article suggests, things really are changing. About a year ago Mike and his partner bought a new house. The house is located on a cul de sac with eight other homes in the 300K - 400K price range. The cul de sac is integrated racially with one black family, one family in which one spouse is white and the other black. The rest of the families are all white. Mike and his partner are the only gays. They almost didn't buy the house because they were afraid the neighbors, who are all older empty nesters would not be happy to see two young gay guys further integrate the cul de sac. Such was not the case. The neighbors have been more than friendly and helpful. They all get together on a regular basis for a pot luck dinner that rotates between the houses. Mike and his partner were quickly invited to join in. At a recent dinner at their home, Mike and his partner even had all the neighbors, even the men, line dancing to some upbeat music. The women all make over Mike's partner, and the men all think Mike is one of their own since he's as masculine as they are and can easily talk sports, as well as anything else, with them.

Last weekend Mike and  his partner took a long weekend to a beach house on Galveston Island. They enjoyed walking the beach on a a weekend with perfectly beautiful weather. Mike told me that for the most part the beaches were deserted along their stretch and they took long walks walking hand in hand and talking. On one such walk, they were walking hand in hand and oblivious to what was going on around them. All at once they were confronted with a pickup loaded with young men who appeared to be in their late teens and early twenties. No one else was around. Mike admitted he was startled and feared the worst, but he and his partner just smiled and waved at the guys. They all waved back and kept on driving up the beach. A few years ago it could have come out much differently.

America and Americans are definitely changing their attitudes towards gays. I personally think this is because nearly every family has now had to decide how they are going to react to a family member who has come out. They know from personal experience that gay guys are someone's son, nephew, grandson or brother, maybe even their own kin. They are not monsters who have an agenda to recruit as many straight guys as they can into the ranks of gay guys as the Fundamental Christians would have us believe. For the most part, they want what every American wants, to live their lives in peace and make their share of the American Dream their own.

They are doctors, lawyers, salesmen, even preachers. they are white collar and blue collar workers. For the most part, they are model citizens and model neighbors. They keep their property up and their homes are spotless. They tend to earn more than the average, they are better educated than average. They are, simply put, people anyone would be happy to have as friends and neighbors except those who can't get beyond "what they do together."

Fortunately, those people who can't get over it are more and more in the minority. Even among Christians, Christian lay people are decidedly more accepting of gays than are church officials. If it were put to a vote of members rather than having rules made by the church officials, most churches would openly admit gays to membership with full benefits therewith entitled.

The times, they are a changin. It's a wonderful thing to witness. I attended my first gay wedding last summer in a European country that is decidedly and  historically Catholic. Yet, the wedding was attended by friends and family and was a happy occasion just as it would have been had it been a heterosexual wedding.  When I told one of the quests at the reception that I was surprised that, in light of the country's Catholic history, civil partnerships had been so overwhelmingly legalized, he told me the Catholic church had lost all credibility for telling people how they should act in their sexual lives or what they should believe in sexual matters because of the priest/child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked both Europe and America.

I guess it is a confirmation that my mother was right when she use to tell me that God would use me. He'd use me as a force for good if he could. He'd use me as an example of evil if he had to, and from either, good would come.

Some of  you may feel you are not in a position to further and support the change in the acceptance of gays, but you're wrong if you feel that way. I'm in church most every Sunday. My faith is important to me, but I take every opportunity to let my fellow Christians know I believe gay people are as much loved by God as anyone else. I don't have to intentionally get into such conversations. I never have to bring it up. The subject is always being brought up all around me by either undoubtedly biased and bigoted Christians or by those who see the differing opinions of Christians on the matter and are honestly trying to figure out for themselves what their opinion as Christians should be.

Romans 8:37-39 confirms to Christians that nothing in either heaven or earth can ever separate any of us from the love of God. It's too bad that the people who scream most about the need to take the Bible literally do not take that passage literally.  But the day is growing ever closer. It will soon be at hand. The time is coming quickly when only the most bigoted and uneducated among us will see gay people as deserving of derision and unworthy of the civil rights enjoyed by straight people. Oh happy day!

Jack Scott

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tony and Jason Wed

From time to time I repost blog pieces here in my blog from other blogs of note such as the Huffington Post or from non-professional blogs much like my own.

As those of you who are regular readers know, last summer my wife and I attended a wedding in Europe. It was a great occasion and we enjoyed it very much. The Groom had been a very good friend of mine for several years. The other Groom, we had never met, but much as I suspected would be the case, he quickly came to be a friend too.

You see, this European wedding was my wife and my first gay wedding. Though gay weddings are a relatively new type of ceremony, I thought it appropriate that this particular wedding took place in one of the old grand estate homes that dot the European landscape. The home was beautiful, filled with period furniture and decor. The grounds were marvelous consisting of informal flower gardens, formal lawns and areas wooded by centuries old trees all overlooking the sea. It seemed a fitting juxtaposition of a symbol of an old bygone era and of a new era of growing social support for same sex marriage.

But what most impressed me was the friends and family that attended the ceremony on behalf of both men. These two men, were surrounded by friends and family that were all straight and most of them were married. It was as if it were a normal wedding in all regards. There was wine, food, flowers, laughter, tears and celebration for the better part of two days. It all seemed so normal.

I couldn't help but think how impertinent (as well as utterly false) it is that so called Christians contend they reject marriage between couples of the same sex because it does harm to traditional marriage between a man and a woman. I know  not one of the many married couples at this particular ceremony felt that way. I might point out that many of them were Catholic in this historically Catholic country. My wife and I are active in our Protestant church as well, and we felt honored to be at this ceremony in which the love of two people was formally recognized by the state.

The following video was posted recently in the Huffington Post. The video speaks for itself very well. Rather than a country venue, this couple chose the epicenter of urbanity, The Plaza Hotel  at 59 Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Other than that, everything is much the same as the wedding of our gay friends in Europe. What is portrayed will hopefully soon just be thought of as nothing more than just another wedding between two people very much in love. I for one think God will be pleased with the coming of that day. I know it will be a good day for all the people of the world.

I hope you enjoyed this video. If you have not yet had the privilege of attending such an event, I hope that changes soon.

Jack Scott

Friday, February 15, 2013

Two Related to Phelps Opt to Quit Westboro

The following article was originally published in the Kansas City Star. On February 8, 2013 it was republished in the Houston Chronicle.


Two granddaughters of Westboro Baptist Church firebrand Fred Phelps have split with the Topeka, Kan.-based congregation, indicating their views have evolved and they now regret the pain they have caused others. 
Phelps and member of his crazed flock
One of them, 27-year old Megan Phelps-Roper, had been a highly visible member of the church who spoke to media outlets and spread its message via Twitter. 
She and a younger sister, Grace Phelps-Roper, in November left the congregation known for its anti-gay stance and for picketing funerals of fallen soldiers and others. 
"We ripped the BandAid off," Megan wrote in a text Wednesday to the Kansas City Star. 
A statement signed by both sisters and posted on social media Wednesday said the two were trying to figure out their future. 
"We know that we've done and said things that hurt people," the statement said. "Inflicting pain on others wasn't the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren't so and regret that hurt." 
Steve Drain, a spokesman for the church, said in an interview Wednesday that the sisters had rejected the Lord. 
"Those two girls were kind of straddling the idea that they wanted to be of the world but that they would also miss their family, the only thing they ever knew," Drain said. "If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they're going to hell." 
Megan and Grace are among 11 children of Brent and Shirley Roper, who is the daughter of Westboro pastor Fred Phelps. 
Libby Phelps Alvarez, who left Westboro in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with some of its radical beliefs, told the Star on Wednesday that Megan and Grace had been staying at the Lawrence, Kan., home she shares with her husband.


In a recent blog I stated that while I have always known homosexuality would one day be recognized for what it is, a normal variation of human sexual behavior, even I have been very much surprised at the rate in which change is occurring. In todays Houston Chronicle, there appeared an article noting that the Illinois Senate had passed a bill to allow same sex marriage in Illinois. The bill now proceeds to the Illinois House where it is expected to pass in the chamber controlled by Democrats. Illinois will become the 10th state in which same sex marriage is now guaranteed by law. If my math is right, that means that a full 20% of the 50 states now support same sex marriages or civil unions. That is significant change from just a lustrum ago.

The article reprinted above is also significant for the change in people's hearts and minds concerning homosexuality and same sex marriage. It is easy to read the article and miss the full weight of its importance, especially if one is only tangentially aware of "the reverend" Fred Phelps and his family based cult, Westboro Baptist Church. Megan and Grace are individuals who have been brainwashed to hate homosexuals (and most of the rest of the people of the world) since the day they were born. Their whole lives have have been marked by emotional abuse and threats of eternal Hell should they disobey the rules their grandfather lays down in the name of God. Anyone who has had the experience of going against the will of his or her parents knows what a significant step that is in one's life. Suppose you had been taught all your life that your grandfather spoke for God and to disobey him meant you would live out eternity in a lake of fire!

Phelps is one of the preachers I've talked about before who has no formal education in theology. He simply self-appointed himself as the one true spokesman for God and formed a church to prey on the spiritually ignorant and the emotionally and mentally unstable. While the church attracts a few outsiders, it remains mostly an institution of Phelps' extended family.

To me the fact that Megan and Grace found the courage to leave not only their church, but their family, and in their family's eyes, God Himself, is a very good indicator of the magnitude of change in attitude that is sweeping the country concerning gay men and women.

Megan and Grace have the benefit of being taken in by Libby Phelps Alvarez who left the church in 2009. Mrs. Alvarez seems to have come a long way in shaking off the life-long abuse she endured at the hands of the family, though I'm sure her demons will continue to plague her to some extent. She appeared on the Anderson Cooper show on February 13, 2013 with the family of Sterling Wyatt who died in July, 2012 in Kandahar. Undoubtedly, it took a great deal of courage for Alvarez to come face to face with the Wyatt family, but she did it with grace and obvious contrition. Mrs. Wyatt was gracious to Alvarez though some papers reported otherwise. The video of the Anderson Cooper Show clearly shows Mrs. Wyatt commending Alvarez for her courage in leaving the church. That Alvarez was able to carry this meeting off is a big indication that she is progressing in shaking off the years of brainwashing. Hopefully, she can help Megan and Grace to do the same.

clip from the Anderson Cooper Show and the meeting of Libby Phelps Alvarez and the Wyatt family was recently posted on the internet. You may see the clip by clicking on the URL at the beginning of this paragraph.

It has been said with friends like his, God doesn't need enemies. I think Westboro Baptist Church and the Fred Phelps family prove this point completely. As a person of faith, I am pleased to see the empire of Fred Phelps begin to crack and move nearer to its ultimate fall. But also as a person of faith, I continue to regret that Phelps and other less malicious though just as spiritually misinformed Christians continue to do great damage to the universal Christian church by being judgmental, unforgiving, self-righteous and narrow minded. Too many Christians see themselves as Saints. None of them are. They are all sinners just like everyone else in the world. As Christians, they are supposed to differ from the other people in the world in recognizing that no one can earn salvation; and therefore, earning it is not required. It is a gift freely given for all people. It is a gift which springs from the love of God for all creation. But like Phelps, too many Christians spend more time preaching and professing hate and rejection of others than they do preaching and professing love and acceptance. In doing so they are destroying the church.

To me, that is regrettable. Many non-believers see religion as a crutch for those who cannot accept that we are alone in the universe and there is no God to help us. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps not. Either way the observation is a matter of faith. It cannot be proven either way. Even as a person of faith, I often have my own doubts about the existence of God. If he does exist, he is nothing like the average Christian perceives him to be; and the Kingdom of God is as mistakenly perceived today as it was by the Jews over 2000 years ago.

But to me, it seems mankind does better when he believes in something bigger than himself. Much of the deterioration of society that we are all witnessing today is the result of too many people who do not believe in anything or anyone that is bigger and more important than themselves. Such viewpoints are destroying law and order, honesty and integrity, as well as religion. That is a shame. It is also very dangerous for all of us. As society deteriorates, as each of us begin to see our wants and our wishes as supreme over everyone else's wants, wishes, hopes and dreams of the future, incidents like that at Sandy Nook School and other barbarous crimes against even the most innocent among us begin to proliferate.

Certainly, one does not have to be a Christian to see the Ten Commandments as applying to all mankind, not just Christians. But as Christianity comes to be seen as a foolish anachronism supported only by small minded zealots, everything that is derived from it begins to be seen the same way including our civil laws which are based in large part on Judio-Christian values.

Currently, there are large and growing segments of our society that value nothing beyond their own pleasure and their own wants. If society is to continue to endure, that must change. People like Megan and Grace, who are still willing to risk everything they have ever known, give me hope.

Jack Scott

Monday, February 4, 2013

Evangelicals Try New Tack Towards Gays

The following article appeared in the February 3, 2013 issue of the Houston Chronicle. I have been contending for years that Evangelical and Fundamental Christians are, in effect, committing suicide by refusing to understand their short sighted approach to Christianity is driving people away from the church at large rather than drawing them too it.

In this case, I don't really take any pleasure in saying, "I told you so," but it is always encouraging to have one's insights validated by others.

Frankly, I have known for some time that the status of gay people was going to change in the United States. What I initially failed to understand was just how quickly this change was going to take hold. I came to understand it when a Christian friend told me of her experience with her favorite grandson. The two had always been very close. She loved all of her grandchildren, but there was no doubt this child was her favorite. He was smart, handsome and gifted. When he came out to his family as gay, there was shock and dismay. But his grandmother, a devoted Christian, was also smart and capable of critical thinking too. Because of her love for this young man, she quickly came to the rationalization that nothing had changed except that she now knew about his homosexuality which had always been a part of him for as long as she had loved him. She refused to let her knowledge of the truth destroy the love she had for him or the way she treated him.

As the number of gay men and women coming out of the closet reached critical mass, there is no extended family in the United States that his not been affected. Most have ultimately reacted just as my friend did and come to acceptance and support of their young family member.

Our institutions, including our churches have faced the same decisions. Evangelical and Fundamental Churches faced with a growing number of their own young members coming out have had to face the fact that homosexuality has nothing to do with how one is raised or whether or not one is a Christian. Instead it is a much more complex and convoluted thing. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are not noted for their reasoning ability or they wouldn't be Evangelicals and Fundamentalists but even with their limited willingness to reason, when faced with a growing issue from within their own ranks, they have reluctantly begun to realize that the issue must be addressed in new ways. That is what the following article is about.

I hope you read it with a new sense of optimism and hope for the future.


NASHVILLE, TENN. The Rev. Robert Jeffress has changed the way he talks about homosexuality from the pulpit.

The pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Dallas hasn't stopped preaching that homosexual sex is sinful, but he no longer singles it out for special condemnation. Now, Jeffress says he usually talks about homosexuality within "a bigger context of God's plan for sex between one man and one woman in a lifetime relationship called marriage."

"It would be the height of hypocrisy to condemn homosexuality and not adultery or unbiblica1 divorce," he said, explaining that the Bible-allows divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion. He also includes premarital sex on that list.

A new generation
The pressure to change the way homosexuality is addressed in evangelical churches is increasing as mainstream support for gay and lesbian issues increases. This support is especially strong among young adults, and researchers say they don't expect this group to become mote conservative on the issue as they age.

In a 2011 survey by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute, 62 percent of adults between 18 and 29 years old said they supported gay marriage and 71percent supported civil unions. Among adults 65 and older, those numbers were 31 percent in favor of marriage and 51 percent for civil unions.

Asked about the idea that "religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues, 69 percent of the younger group agreed.

Another-recent poll 'by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that nearly 20 percent of adult Americans now describe themselves as unaffiliated with any specific religion, and the problem for evangelical churches is apparent.

"Evangelicals have been sobered by studies that show people are dropping out of church in droves," said Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest University Divinity School; That has affected how they relate to marginalized people, including gays and lesbians,

"I'm amazed at the changes, the softening of the rhetoric to be more compassionate," Leonard said. "There's a realization that the idea of 'love the sinner, hate the sin' comes across as pretty cold."

Demographics isn't the only force driving changes in the evangelical response to gays' and lesbians. As it becomes safer for gays and lesbians to come out of the closet, it becomes increasingly more likely that evangelicals know gays and lesbians personally, researchers say.'

Meeting in the middle
"Over the last five to 10 years, evangelicals have been faced with the issue even more poignantly as their sons and daughters come out of the closet," Leonard said. " ... It has become more difficult to dismiss 'those people.'''

Justin Lee, founder of the Gay Christian Network, is one of those Children.

Like most evangelicals, Lee grew up believing the Bible was to be taken at face value but, in wrestling with the realization that he was gay, found a more nuanced way to read Scripture. Now, he works to foster understanding of gays within evangelical institutions.

"I do hear from church leaders and pastors, who say, 'I already know where I stand, but how can I be more loving and gracious to the gay community without compromising my convictions?'" Lee said. "There are a lot of things I say, but chief among them is that the the more you listen to the people and ask about their lives and stories, the more you are able to show grace and love, even if you don’t agree."

Jeffress, who has gay and lesbian members in his church tries to be compassionate. He said he is open to the possibility that sexual orientation has a genetic basis that cannot be cured or prayed away.

"I think we were too quick to dismiss the possibility of a genetic predisposition," Jeffress said.

But that hasn't altered his belief the Bible teaches that acting on homosexual desire is sinful, and he feels it is his responsibility to talk about it with his congregation.


As one Christian to another, I have a suggestion for Jeffress and other Evangelicals about how they can be more understanding of and compassionate to gay people. All they need to do is read their own Bibles and apply fully what they read there.

A good place to start is Romans 8:31-37

31 ...If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son — will he not also freely give us all things? 33 Who will accuse God's chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! 34 Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right-hand side of God, pleading with him for us! 35 Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? 36 As the scripture says, “For your sake we are in danger of death at all times; we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, 39 neither the world above nor the world below — there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Bible is not easy to read and harder still to understand, but there are places where the nature of God is imparted in a straight forward and unambiguous way. The verses from Romans above are one of those places. My contention has always been that if one knows and understand nothing about the Bible other than this one set of verses, he knows enough.

The verses are about the amazing power of God's grace and love for us. A love so strong that nothing can defeat it or change it. Unfortunately, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists spend most of their time attaching conditions to God's grace, a sort of "grace, but……." message. Reread the verses above. There are no conditions and no buts. All Mr. Jeffress and others have to do to treat homosexuals and all others who supposedly offend God with compassion and understanding is to treat them as people loved and valued by God.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott