Atheists and Homosexuals are "Natural Allies" (Addendum)

I am an LGBT ally and have defended homosexuals, argued for gay marriage, and have done a great deal to educate people about homosexuality on Facebook and in my blog. It is quite obvious that there are many common concerns and problems that LGBT individuals and atheists face: both groups generally advocate for separation of church and state and specifically, for LGBT people, advocate for gay marriage; both groups are discriminated against, face social stigma, and are treated unfairly; both groups are greatly misrepresented by outsiders; both groups are vastly underrepresented; and many members of both groups are closeted amongst other things. I constantly see gays being mistreated and victimized because of religious beliefs and I am constantly baffled as to how so many homosexuals are either religion, affiliated with an organized religion, or both.

During my last year at King's College, I supported a LGBT group on campus known as the Questions and Answers Club, but I faced tremendous resistance from the club. When I would attend meetings, I would bring up some concerns I had such as religious groups discriminating against homosexuals and closing charities, the intolerance of students on campus, and problems with supporting the Knights of Columbus on campus (a group that is part of a national organization which funds anti-gay initiatives and sends anti-gay propaganda). I would leave comments on the group's Facebook page dealing with discrimination that gays face from religious groups and because of religious ideas and my comments would be deleted by group admins.

I would be told, when I would make comments at meetings on online, that the group only wants to focus on local issues, relevant issues, and does not want to anger religious people on campus. I was also told that the group should not be “confrontational with the school” because the group is “allowed to exist.” Members of the Q&A Club also even went so far as to act as apologists for the Knights of Columbus and argued that they weren't anti gay and the group on campus is not doing what the national organization does.

While homosexuals might be against my approach (although it is very mild, yet I do not pull punches) and while they do not want to be confrontational, they should not try to stifle my efforts and even more importantly should not be defending religious bigotry. I've previously commented on differing approaches in the atheist community (and will do so more in a future blog post) and have noted that there are many different approaches and those in the same camps should not be working against each other or calling people “toxic.” Disagreement can and should be had, but this should be done in a constructive manner instead of levying personal attacks and stopping the efforts of those who are actually trying to educate and help those who are being defended.

More homosexuals and LGBT allies should be active within the atheist community and should be supporting each other. At a recent gay pride festival, the NEPA Freethought Society bought table space, handed out information, and tried to recruit members, but the efforts were unsuccessful and no new members were had. Why is this? Why aren't more gays working with atheists and joining atheist groups? Our concerns are very similar, we face similar challenges, and are “natural allies.”

Possible Reasons:

  1. Apathy

Apathy is difficult to overcome regardless of what the issue is or what a group is. It can certainly be the case that may gays are apathetic to the concerns of atheists (or even other gays) and thus are not active in the atheist community. I find it impossible to be apathetic and feel obligated to blog, write articles, be active in the atheist community, educate, and be active in my local atheist group.

  1. Defeat

This may be similar to apathy or might be the cause of apathy. Homosexuals (and atheists) face a great deal of nonsense and may feel like their actions might not change things because of the scope of the current problems. People, though, should not resign and should keep pushing on. Atheists and homosexuals, although still stigmatized, have progressed greatly and are continuing to progress. Instead of giving up or expecting others to take the lead, individuals should contribute and press on.

  1. Fear

Fear is a huge problem because many homosexuals face the 'double closet' of being gay atheists and feel like they can't come out because of real consequences. Some homosexuals may be open, but are not openly atheist because, perhaps, they feel like they can't face the pressure from openly being a gay atheist. In many cases, people really cannot come out for good reasons, but this doesn't stop a person from acting anonymously by blogging, donating to organizations, coming to private meetings, or even one of these previous options.

Fear, apathy, and defeat should not discourage homosexuals from participating in the atheist community. I have said this many times in the past: many atheists are in the same corner as homosexuals. Help us as we help you so we can help each other.