In the movie Blade Runner (and also in the Philip K. Dick novel on which it was based), professional replicant hunter, Rick Deckard, administers a test called the Voight-Kampff. The Voight-Kampff is a machine that measures minute changes in the pupil in response to various hypothetical situations. To fail this test is to be declared less than human, merely a replicant of a human.
This machine, it turns out, did actually exist at one time. Only instead of determining if you were a replicant, it was designed (and not very well) to determine your sexual orientation. It was called, I kid you not, the Fruit Machine, and was used during the McCarthy-era Lavender Scare.
Like a replicant, the fruit machine has been retired. It is no longer an acceptable practice to strap people to chairs and show them sexually explicit pictures like in Clockwork Orange. Maybe it is not surprising that over 90% of LGBTQ adults in a Pew Research study say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and they anticipate it will continue to become more so.
Do not congratulate yourself.
In this same study, nearly 40% of respondents reported being rejected by a close friend or family member because of their sexual orientation. These families are more likely to be Southern, and they’re more likely to be religious, and their children are more likely to commit suicide.
As many as 40% of LGBTQ youth have been reported to attempt suicide. And the reported number is certainly low. Let that sink in. Four out of every 10 LGBTQ youth attempt to end their own lives. So no, do not congratulate yourself.
Let’s be clear. The high suicide rate among LGBTQ teens is not caused by homosexuality. The high suicide rate is caused by homophobia. It is because our children have been harassed, physically threatened, taunted, and beaten. It’s because they are kicked out of their homes and lose their jobs. It’s because they face obstacles marrying their partners or adopting children. And here in the South, it’s because this is all considered acceptable behavior in the Christian Church.
Not all Christians believe this of course. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called homophobia a “crime against humanity.”
“We treat them” he said of gays and lesbians, “as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God—and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy.”
This is quite a contrast to those of you who consider homosexuality an abomination, considering you all claim to get your morals from the same God and the same book. I know there are also some who try to take the middle ground, who are content to let God sort out the fags, who profess to hate the sin and love the sinner. You would never lift a finger against a gay person and even refrain from the playground level slurs the LGBTQ community must endure every day. Then you sit in church and nod as your preacher condemns your neighbors, your friends, your children for how they were born.
That’s not good enough. That’s not nearly good enough.
If you support a church that preaches hate, and you do not stand up in some way to object, there is blood on your hands. Period. Every one of the more than 10,000 annual suicides by gay youth, they’re on you. Because you have declared a human to be less than human. I hope your God can forgive you because I will not.
If you are a young person dealing with the pressures of a non-conforming gender identity, it’s ok to ask for help. Visit the Trevor Project or call 1-866-488-7386.