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Fighting Tolerance

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A woman from Hebron, Mississippi sent a letter to the Laurel Leader-Call "strongly" disagreeing with advice which Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) gave to a 16 year old girl. The girl asked for help in dealing with a sexual orientation identity crisis.

I've never experienced an internal debate about my sexual orientation, but, given today's adversarial environment surrounding the subject, I can empathize with the young girl even if I can't understand her predicament.

I don't know how many of us shared our thoughts with our parents when we were teen-agers. I don't know how many of us believed that sharing those thoughts would be innocuous just to find ourselves in a knockdown, drag out "argument". If this happened to you as it happened to me, can you imagine sharing your feelings with your parents knowing that it would result in an intolerable situation for you?

The letter writer obviously had an open and honest relationship with her parents; a relationship which nothing she said to her parents could derail. Those who have had such a relationship with unconditionally understanding parents are fortunate. I have no data which shows if more parents are accepting or rejecting of the kind of feelings the girl has. This young lady knows her parents, though, and, if we give it some thought, we would suspect that she would probably have already told them about her feelings if she knew they would accept them as legitimate. She does hint at how they would accept her feelings by saying that they attend a "church that believes homosexuality is a terrible sin."

Of course, since the writer considers herself "a seasoned woman who happened (sic) to believe that a person's sexual orientation is a matter of choice", she may never have had to face what the girl sees as her moment of truth. The woman from Hebron doesn't believe that the girl is facing any such moment. According to the letter writer, "it has not been proven that one's sexual orientation is something a person is born with."

Scientists who study such things are basically in agreement with her. A huge difference between the letter writer and the scientists, however, is that the writer makes her claim as if the absence of definite proof is proof of definite absence. On the other hand, the scientists are using imaging technology to study the brain and they are beginning to discover that there are differences between the brains of straight people and those of gay people. Although the scientists admit that it hasn't been unquestionably proven that there is a "gay gene", they're getting closer to proving it.

Alternatively, the letter writer doesn't give the scientific studies much credit. Perhaps, she, too, is a scientist studying the human brain and she hasn't discovered the differences. Or perhaps, through her studies, she's discovered that the (other) scientists are wrong. I'm not taking bets on that one.

The letter writer hopes that "Dear Abby has not advised this 16 year-old young lady to do something she could one day regret."

This is a curious concern. The girl may discover that she's made the horrible mistake of thinking that she's gay when, in fact, she merely chose to think that she's gay. What regret will she have? Will she regret the fact that she blew the chance of getting pregnant? I think not.

The letter writer states that "humans both male and female at some point in life has (sic) been at least curious about what it would be like to be with someone of the same sex, but if you want to do the right thing you don't act on those feelings, you just put mind over matter."

Maybe we have a situation where the newspaper limits the number of words a letter writer may use in a letter to the editor. If that's the case, it's unfortunate because the woman never got a chance to present data which proves that not acting upon "those feelings" is "the right thing".

She further states that "I would not appreciate it if this has (sic) been my daughter Dear Abby gave this totally unprofessional advice to". Ironically enough, this statement should tell us that, if the woman's daughter was facing the same dilemma, Dear Abby may, indeed, be giving advice to her. She seems to be a parent who may become quite animated if told that one of her children is gay.

Lest we forget, we shouldn't leave out the media's influence. After all, "because of the media's acceptance of same sex relationships this young lady could also be being influenced into thinking this kind of behavior is normal." I'm thinking that the media began to accept same sex relationships as "normal" after a large portion of the American public had already legitimized same sex relationships with its acceptance of them.

The woman seems certain that giving the young girl advice which is "in direct defiance of her parents' beliefs... is unhealthy for the child". Many of us who did open up to our parents, thinking that they would understand, may have found that to be unhealthy.

I have confidence that science will ultimately find that homosexuality is hard wired in the human brain. However, whether it's hardwired or a lifestyle choice, those who oppose same sex relationships should see their opposition as their choice and nothing more. It is arrogance and unwarranted self-importance that drives people like the woman from Hebron, Mississippi to try to force their opinions on others even if the issue will never affect them.

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Michael Bonanno is an associate editor for OpEdNews.

He is also a published poet, essayist and musician who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bonanno is a political progressive, not a Democratic Party apologist. He believes it's (more...)

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