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Atheism, Culture

Dan Savage on Coming Out

I’ve always felt that there are a lot of similarities between the coming out process for gays and atheists.  It’s certainly gotten easier to come out as either one in recent years, but it’s still really hard.   Do a google search for atheist coming out stories, and you might be shocked.  People have lost all of their friends and family.  They’ve lost jobs.  They’ve been ostracized and shunned by entire communities.   In severe cases, they’ve been physically attacked.

In the now famous survey from 2006, it was discovered that the average American would rather have a Muslim as president than an atheist.  Gays still have it bad, but as things stand now, if an atheist and a gay man ran for president, the gay man would win.  The good news is that things are getting better for gays.  Things have changed since the 50s and 60s, when “fag drags” were all the rage in Texas.  In the last fifty years, they’ve managed to rise from the bottom of the cultural barrel to all the rage on prime time network television.   We atheists should pay attention to what they did and how they did it.

Here’s Dan Savage talking about coming out.  As far as I can tell, this might as well be directed towards atheists.



3 thoughts on “Dan Savage on Coming Out

  1. It’s still not easy coming out as a homosexual, and to be honest, my parents (both Roman Catholic) were a lot more comfortable with me being an atheist than being gay. The religion conversation they can ignore at the table, when I bing my boyfriend over they can’t ignore that.

    My mom is most comfortable with it though she did raise the following points, though she might have changed her views on them:

    1) She doesn’t think gay people should raise children (she’s probably changed this now, since I came out). She was never opposed to me marrying and having kids as an atheist.

    2) She’d prefer it if I weren’t gay. Both my partner and I have actually had this thrown on us by our mothers, and it is a horrible thing to endure. My mother has never told me that’d she’d prefer I wasn’t an atheist, she might think that, but she never openly said it.

    My father is a different story, he gets very upset with religious conversations, and the homosexuality is intrinsically tied with that. He mostly just distances himself from me, but when the conversation turns to homosexual issues, like gay marriage, his religion creeps to the surface, as well as a number of misunderstandings about how our legislation is crafted and changed, and he agrees with the Catholic church, that homosexuals should be treated as second class citizens.

    Posted by MKandefer | February 22, 2010, 1:30 pm
  2. I don’t think coming out as an athiest is anywhere near what coming out as a homosexual is like. Homosexuality isnt a choice, Atheism is, at least to some extent. Yeah, I understand that you come to the realization that you just dont believe something, but that can change, and it HAS changed in some people before. Homosexuality can’t change, trust me, myself and many others have tried to change it. When you come out as gay, you’re saying, I accept who I am despite the fact that people might hate me because of my own happiness. Even if that means I might not get the chance to marry someone I love, or have the children I want, or be kicked out of my family. You can’t even really call saying you’re an atheist “coming out.” Gay people are forced into hiding who they are and thinking they are bad people for their childhoods. We had to struggle to figure out why we were different from everyone around us, and we had to deal with emotions and feelings for people of the same sex when we were told our whole lives it was wrong. Then we have to gain the courage to throw everything out the window that we had as a child and get thrown on our own to fend for ourselves. Our parents cant give us advice anymore on relationships and in some cases parents may never talk to their children again.

    Plus, there’s nothing stopping an atheist to marry someone they love, and that’s a huge deal. If I get in a car accident in florida and my boyfriend gets put in a coma, and we adopted a child, the state would take that child away as a ward of the state. Those things wouldnt happen to atheists.

    Don’t go taking the most pivotal moment of any young gay person’s life and making it a phrase that can easily just be thrown around.

    Sorry to get upset, but straight people rarely understand how hard it actually is to come to terms with the fact that you’ll NEVER be normal, no matter how hard you try.

    Posted by Taylor | June 23, 2010, 11:17 am
  3. @ Taylor: The degree of similarity is questionable but not until it is a bad comparison; some atheists do infact lose a lot by telling people they are gay. As hambydammit has said, “People have lost all of their friends and family. They’ve lost jobs. They’ve been ostracized and shunned by entire communities. In severe cases, they’ve been physically attacked.” [sic]

    Posted by Calvin | September 1, 2010, 12:10 pm

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