I suppose it’s not a social norm, and not a manly thing to do — to feel, discuss feelings. So that’s what I’m giving the finger to. Social norms and stuff…what good are social norms, really? I think all they do is project a limited and harmful image of people. It thus impedes a broader social acceptance of what someone, or a group of people, might actually be like.
The scriptures present a God who delights in genocide, rape, slavery, and the execution of nonconformists, and for millennia those writings were used to rationalize the massacre of infidels, the ownership of women, the beating of children, dominion over animals, and the persecution of heretics and homosexuals. Humanitarian reforms such as the elimination of cruel punishment, the dissemination of empathy-inducing novels, and the abolition of slavery were met with fierce opposition in their time by ecclesiastical authorities and their apologists. The elevation of parochial values to the realm of the sacred is a license to dismiss other people’s interests, and an imperative to reject the possibility of compromise.
Jerry Falwell said that the reason that September 11th happened, the reason that God allowed it to happen, was because of certain people in our country. People like, and I'm quoting, 'the pagans,' which is a motorcycle group. Feminists; he brought up feminists. [...] And I couldn't believe it, he said that God had actually talked to him and said, these were the people. That was the reason. It was those people, and that was the reason God allowed this to happen. And I thought, 'That's odd.' Because God had called me twelve hours before, and He said the reason He was upset was because of people like Jerry Falwell.
If no one had ever challenged religious authority, there’d be no democracy, no public schools, women’s rights, improvements to science and medicine, evolution of slavery and no laws against child abuse or spousal abuse. I was afraid to challenge my religious beliefs because that was the basis of creation—mine anyway. I was afraid to question the Bible or anything in it, and when I did, that’s when I became involved with PFLAG and realized that my son was a perfectly normal human being and there was nothing for God to heal because Bobby was perfect just the way he was.
You can argue that it's a different world now than the one when Matthew Shepard was killed, but there is a subtle difference between tolerance and acceptance. It's the distance between moving into the cul-de-sac and having your next door neighbor trust you to keep an eye on her preschool daughter for a few minutes while she runs out to the post office. It's the chasm between being invited to a colleague's wedding with your same-sex partner and being able to slow-dance without the other guests whispering.