My Message for Your Homophobic Family

My name is Alexander Cheves. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex. I wrote a book.

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Recently my best friend died from suicide due to an adverse reaction to Prozac, he was 17. He was closeted bi-gay, his family is very religious and conservative, and gifted him the gun he used for his birthday. And recently after that, I came out to my grandfather who reacted with homophobia and Catholic proselytizing. He stated:
1. Gays destroy families.
2. Being gay is a choice.
3. I cannot be romantic with the love of my life.
4. That I WILL go to hell.
5. To go to church
6. To abstain and be celibate.

I’ve begun to entirely hate religion and have become very nihilistic as a result, with my depression mixing with my ASD. The only one who kept me from committing suicide during all this was the one that I love so dearly, yet it seems the more I love the stronger I am assaulted by my personal demons.

How would you take this, what is your advice?

Hi friend and brother,

Your granddad is a homophobe? Fine, I’m your grandaddy now.

I’m so sorry about your best friend. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for most of my life. Save the number of America’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on your phone and call it if you ever get to that place. I have called it more than once: 800-273-8255.

So let’s move on to your grandfather.

Being gay, I struck gold. I hit the jackpot. So did you. Your grandfather cannot see that, and probably never will. He can’t really be expected to.

The only demons in your life I can see from where I sit are the ones who were entrusted to your well-being who instead tell you things like “gays destroy families.” Thankfully, no one is required to stay with their relatives — and I think no one should. At some point, everyone needs to leave the nest and grow. You should leave as soon as you can — because you’re queer and because you’re a human. Go have an adventure. Enjoy your adulthood as it comes.

I was told the same things when I came out to my dad. Every adult in my life, from the minister at church to teachers at my school, presented the message that I had somehow done something wrong and that being gay was, in fact, my fault. They said I had to fix this condition by praying, abstaining, and asking for forgiveness. (Even with the nonscientific nature of their argument set aside, what patient is tasked with their own curing?)

In hindsight, their message was absurd. I knew it was not my choice to be gay — if it ever had been, I would have certainly chosen the easier life and been straight (thank goodness it wasn’t a choice). If nothing else, I knew I was at least being blamed for something I had not done. Their god was at fault, not me. I had been born this way as surely as I had been born with brown hair. My sexuality was innate, not chosen. Yours is too.

You are free to believe what you want about all this, but you are not free to make yourself in the womb as you’d like to be. No one has that freedom. You are not free to set your own nature. We are given the cards we’re dealt, and you, my lucky friend, were given queerness. You struck gold.

They blame you for this because they do not accept the science that homosexuality is natural. I’m sad to say there’s nothing you can do to change their minds.

I solved my guilt and self-hatred with basic logic — logic that would eventually lead me away from all religion. Let’s break this down: You did nothing to be gay, but adults in your life say you’re responsible, and you must stop if you are to be saved. This is the same ridiculous setup as the concept of “original sin” in Eden. If god is omnipotent and omnipresent — all-knowing and all-powerful, as Christians say he is — he knew Eve would sin with the apple, knew that humans would fall to sin, and still chose to punish us for something he foresaw, something he could have prevented, something he either permitted to be or, worse, created within us. He could have put the apple out of reach or simply made humans with the inability to sin — but didn’t.

By virtue of being the creator, god is, by basic logic, responsible for sin and still chooses to punish sinners. God is responsible for your sexuality, yet damns it. That’s the claim your grandfather is making. That’s the maniacal, monstrous god he proposes you ask forgiveness of.

I advise you to not care about the whims and wiles of a sadistic cosmic dictator — or the weak, antiquated beliefs of those foolish and deluded enough to believe in one. If you choose to believe in a god, believe in one that made you and loves you just as you are. Don’t believe in such an ugly view of the world that your grandfather believes — that there’s someone on high who thinks you shouldn’t have anal sex. That view of the world is preposterous and stupid.

The maker of the world — if there is one, and I do not think for a moment there is — likely has no concern whatsoever over what you do in the bedroom. If there is such a powerful entity out there (again, probably not), it probably notices your sex life as much as we notice the sex lives of ants. You are free to not believe in such an entity — and in my opinion, you will be happier and have a far more accurate view of the real world if you don’t. But faith, in the end, is fully your choice.

Your grandfather is set in his ways and not likely to budge. That’s okay. You don’t need his approval to have a good life. If you need someone to offer some antithetical points to the cruel ones he made, here are mine:

  1. Being gay means being part of a family, one that extends across the globe. Our family contains rich and poor, artists and businessfolk, doctors and CEOs, and all skin colors and creeds. We are diverse and cool, and our numbers are growing as more humans discover every year that they are part of us.
  2. Being gay is not a choice. None of us had any choice in this. We just got lucky.
  3. The many loves of your life will teach you, save you, hurt you, heal you, and do all the things loves are supposed to do. The goal of a good life is not finding love but being a good love to others. Focus on being a good friend, a good person, a kind human, and love will come.
  4. The idea of Hell is a bronze-age myth that is unprovable and therefore irrelevant. There is no scientific evidence supporting consciousness after death, no scientific evidence of the soul, and certainly no scientific evidence of an afterlife in Hell. Hell is a fairy tale designed to make ancient Middle Eastern tribes behave and accept the teachings espoused by a small Jewish mystery cult that later evolved into what we now call Christianity.
  5. If you want to go to church, that’s fine. There are queer and LGBTQ-friendly congregations everywhere. But don’t go walk into any building where your sexuality — one of the best and most beautiful parts of your life — is deemed ugly or wrong.
  6. Sex is good and good for you. Everyone — queer and otherwise — should pursue the sex and relationships they find meaningful and fulfilling. If you want sex, you should have sex.

You have to poke holes in their silly argument so you can see how wrong it is. They are wrong, you are right. There’s nothing you can do to convince them of that, but that’s how it is, and you have to believe that. They tell you things like “you cannot be romantic with the love of your life” or that “gay people aren’t capable of love,” while the last half-century of history demonstrably disproves both statements: there have been happy gay couples all over the world for generations.

What to do about the family members who reject you? There’s nothing to be done for them and — this is important — there is nothing you can do to change their perspective. That’s not your job. Your only objective should be to live as freely and happily as you can, which means you probably need to get somewhere you can feel safe and discover the culture that is yours by birth. You might hate religion for a bit — many queer people do, for all the same reasons you’re feeling hatred now — but that hate, in time, may wane, and may eventually be healed by better believers who truly espouse the virtues of love allegedly preached by a Nazarene some two-thousand years ago.

For every family member you lose, you will find more queer folks who will become your family, who will take care of you and guide you. Go find them.

Love, Beastly

I’m heteroflexible and am a full & proud advocate of Life, which covers all the sexuality bases 😉 we all have a part to play imo, though I just am curious about what can be done in my town region area. I live in Indiana rural I grew up in Indianapolis which is less a progressive city for any type of change in my opinion. I came across the article in my personal sexual research so I figured it never hurts to ask. What can I do here to help really in any way? I have my email address and phone number so contact me if you wish.
Most sincerely, Mike

Hi Mike,

I’m not sure which article you’re referring to, but I think it’s great that you’re asking how to be a better LGBTQ+ ally. It is no surprise to me that Indiana — where former state governor Mike Pence grew into a celebrity Republican for signing the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — is not a progressive place for LGBTQ folks. Indiana has a terrible anti-gay track record.

In the middle of an HIV outbreak in Indiana that mirrored the 1980s in its severity, Pence publicly supported the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act — some federal legislation that allowed me to access medication and HIV care without insurance when I first tested positive — only if federal dollars were excluded from organizations that “celebrate and encourage behavior that spreads HIV” (his cruel summation of homosexuality). Further, Pence supported this reauthorization only if “those institutions provided assistance to those looking to change their sexual behavior” — a startlingly direct, on-the-record endorsement for ex-gay conversion therapy, which has been scientifically disproven and is tantamount to child abuse. (Queer people forced to undergo so-called “conversion therapy” are twice as likely to commit suicide — which is probably one reason why Pence and others so ardently support it.)

You can find ample news stories of the grim state of queer rights in Indiana over the last few years. Most recently, Indiana lawmakers approved a Republican-backed bill to ban transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity, joining at least 10 other GOP-led states that have adopted similar bans.

So what can you do? First: Befriend queer and trans people. Volunteer for a local LGBTQ+ nonprofit. Help with a Pride event — even if that just means setting up chairs or helping a drag queen zip up the back of her dress. The simplest and greatest way to become a supporter, ally, and de-facto activist is to simply befriend people who need your support and listen to them. Have real, authentic conversations with LGBTQ+ people in Indianapolis. Go outside your comfort zone.

Harvey Milk was a brilliant (and, in his way, brutal) gay rights activist when he required his staff to come out to their families: he knew that real change happens on a personal level, not a public one. It’s easy to dismiss people who are understood only as distant stereotypes, people you have no personal connection to. People’s minds change when they know that they know at least one of us.

After you’ve done that, you’ll know what to do next, because your LGBTQ+ friends will tell you. I cannot speak as a local, on-the-ground queer in Indiana because I don’t live there — I only know what I know of the state by reading the news. If you’re asking me what you can do to be a better ally, that suggests to me that you don’t know many local queers who would be better people to ask, people whose daily lives are directly affected by Gov. Eric Holcomb and all the other old white guys making decisions there. So my first and only advice is to find and listen to the local LGBTQ community in Indianapolis. We’re all around you and pleased to make your acquaintance.

Love, Beastly

Hello! I have a friend who several years ago we played together on a few occasions. Since then, we’ve become platonic friends, and then, at the start of COVID, we became housemates. His partner and he don’t have sex (different libidos), so they have an open arrangement where he can play around. It works well for them. They’re both close friends of mine, even before we lived together. 

I’m a single man. My friend has been with his partner for over 15 years. What is getting uncomfortable is that my friend fucks nearly everybody I know. I normally wouldn’t care – who he plays with is his business, and I consider myself sex-positive. I usually prefer to play on a one-on-one basis, though I have attended a handful of play parties and bathhouses. 

I’m finding myself starting to resent him. Any fuckbuddies I have or potentially could have that play with him, I find my sexual interest in them diminishes. I had another friend reach out to me today and ask if it would be awkward if he played with this housemate, and I told him to feel free but I preferred it if he did it when I wasn’t around. Any insights into what is causing these ugly feelings? Is it jealousy? I don’t want to fuck my housemate. I just feel like any chance I have of connecting 1-on-1 with someone has to be done far, far away from him. 

Sorry for the length. I tried to condense it down to only necessary info, and this was the shortest I could make it! Thank you for reading!

Howdy friend,

The length of your question is great. This is a difficult situation and I think you explained it perfectly. I’m glad someone finally asked me about this.

Situations like these are tricky, and I think gay men find themselves in them often — situations in which one’s personal beliefs (sex is great and everyone is free to pursue it) clash against one’s personal feelings (I’m just not attracted to guys who fuck my housemate).

Having feelings about a certain situation does not cancel out being sex-positive. Sex-positive people still have limits, needs, and comfort thresholds, and it’s good to be aware of them, especially where your living situation is concerned. After all, this is your home, where you should feel comfortable.

I don’t think it’s wise to ever mix sex and roommates. I never mix the two — ever, not under any circumstances. This is partly a trauma response: I’ve had scary housing situations where my housing was contingent upon sex (therapists now call this “survival sex”). I hated those situations, and now my life policy is to never tie my housing security to someone else’s sexual expectations. I’m a sex worker, so I already pay my rent with sex, but my home remains a place where I’m not required to perform. I do not host clients very often. When I do, I tightly control the environment so that when they leave, the space still feels like mine.

I have a roommate in my current apartment who confessed shortly after I moved in that he often hooked up with past roommates. I told him that would never, ever happen with me. I will not hook up with someone he’s hooked up with; like you, that knowledge makes me desire them less. I feel this way because sharing sex partners between roommates pushes on my hard line between home and sex. It makes the line blurry and uncomfortable — it crosses a threshold I don’t like. I am sex-positive, but I’m still allowed to set rules for my space so that I feel comfortable there.

To be frank, I think you should not live with these guys. It’s not fair for you to restrict his sex life, nor are you in a position to tell your friends not to sleep with him. But if you stay there, your resentment will likely grow, you’ll likely stop hosting guys at your place for fear that they’ll meet him and your interest in them will be ruined, and your friendship with these men, your housemates, will probably suffer. None of those are good outcomes. You’re at a roommate dealbreaker: things you both need (and deserve) are in conflict, and neither one of you is wrong.

What exactly are you feeling? Yes, I think jealousy is part of it, and that’s okay. Even sexually open people get jealous — I still do. I think that, by living with him, you are confronted intimately with his sex life — you see his conquests firsthand, as his hookups can literally walk through your living room at any moment — and that proximity, that exposure, unavoidably invites comparisons. It might be triggering your insecurities. Or you might simply be unattracted to him and don’t like being reminded that the guys you fuck are fucking him, too — and that’s totally fair. All sex-positive sluts have to make peace with the fact that the people we fuck are fucking lots of other people, some of whom we are not attracted to or do not like at all — but when you don’t live with those other people, it’s easier to not think about them. Out of sight, out of mind. But you happen to live with such a person, so you are very often reminded. It is understandably weird to think that everyone you want to touch intimately has touched him intimately — this guy who shares your kitchen, your sofa, and all the other intimate accouterments of home space.

Remember: jealousy and insecurity are human emotions that everyone feels at some point, and it’s not wrong to feel them. Sluts and sex-positive people feel them. It’s good that your first impulse isn’t to control what he does — you’re owning your feelings and trying to navigate them within yourself. That shows great maturity. But you are allowed to care for your needs and set boundaries so that you feel good in your home, and it sounds like your current living situation is incompatible with those needs.

Someone needs to move out.

Love, Beastly

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