Among the many interesting people I’ve met at Breaking Stories, Breaking Waves, the LGBT Media Summit and National Convention, has been an individual I least expected to meet here. Allyson Smith, a Reporter/Researcher for Americans for Truth, a “national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda,” has been attending the convention and even sat in on my panel, “The Right Approach: Covering LGBT Conservatives.”
A few hours ago, while chatting with the Washington Blade‘s Kevin Naff in the hotel bar, we saw her walk back and asked Miss Smith to join us. Not only did she agree with alacrity, but when she spoke with us, she offered conversation that was both interesting and engaging — and of particular note, given one of my primary concerns, she was above all quite civil.
Her views of the conference were similar to my own, saying that “everyone has been very nice to me.” Wayne Besen, who moderated our panel yesterday and has written extensively on ex-gays, noted her attitude was similar to that of many such conservatives. When Allyson, Kevin and I discussed her civil reception, we all agreed that often we let political disagreement create animosity.
“If we disagree with people,” I said, “we feel we have to hate them.” Fortunately that wasn’t true with this representative of a group which holds a view of homosexuality at odds with the reality of the lives of so many gay men and lesbians.
Smith noted the amount of destructive behavior in the gay community, with people having promiscuous sex and often not taking precautions to prevent the spread of STDs. Kevin and I acknowledged that such behavior persists in the gay community, but noted that it is not limited to gay men—and that a number of straight men (and women) are also promiscuous, often destructively so.
And I pointed out that while there are exceptions, lesbians tend not to have the same self-destructive sexual behaviors as gay men, havings relationships which correspond with the heterosexual married ideal.
When she talked about how Christian values offer an alternative to homosexual behavior, I countered that gay men can bring (indeed many have brought) such values into their relationships with other men. Somewhat agreeing with her point defining a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman as the ideal, I pointed out that gay people could also be inspired by that ideal. (I even noted how I have blogged about it in posts filed under this category).
We did agree that promiscuous sex can lead to shame and emptiness.
And I pointed out that while there are exceptions, lesbians tend not to have the same self-destructive sexual behaviors as gay men and tend to for relationships which correspond with the heterosexual married ideal.
In all, it was a good conversation. I regretted having to end it so I could attend a panel which was considerbly less interesting than our exchange.
I very much appreciated her coming to the conference and taking the time to listen to a great variety of gay perspectives here. While we disagree strongly, I hope our conversation helped her see that there are gay men who define our orientation as involving more than immediate and frequent gratification of our sexual desires. That many of us are seeking the same sort of things that straight people are looking for, including socially conservative individuals of faith.
Given my commitment to civil discourse, I have offered Miss Smith a chance to respond to this post. I will post it as an addendum, even if I disagree with her ideas. And invite you to reply to her thoughts in the same manner (and tone) that she offers them.
ADDENDUM FROM ALLLYSON SMITH:
I appeciated the opportunity to speak with you and Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff at the NLGJA conference today. Our exchange was interesting and civil, and I was pleased that we were able to discuss our respective views in a respectful manner. And everyone else whom I’ve personally encountered at Breaking Stories, Breaking Waves has treated me with civility and kindness, which I didn’t expect and deeply appreciate. Thank you.
Even though there are many issues we will likely never agree upon–some of which arose in our conversation–I was happily surprised to find we concur that promiscuous sex persists in the homosexual community. “Our side”–we Christian conservatives (CCs)–often feel that when we point out such a fact, we are labeled with epithets such as “haters” or “bigots” or worse, when all we are attempting to do is point out the truth in love and concern.
[The rests of her addendum continues below the jump:]