Folau’s Foul Does More Than Just Offend
I can take the fact that I’m probably gonna go to hell, not because I’m a strong independent gay man, but simply because I don’t believe in hell. However, there are plenty of gays that do, and a lot of them are stuck in a constant loop of self-hatred. And that’s not the only problem to arise from saying gays will go to hell.
I think many of us could agree that Israel Folau is a worthy rugby player. But while strategy and agility represent his strengths, his main weakness is his lack of tact. And indeed, while freedom of speech is pertinent to any democracy, I have to say there are viewpoints that do more than just offend — and this is why I cannot idly stand by and let Israel Folau say that gays will go to hell, no matter how much his religion says so. Which means, it’s time for some learning!
Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that I do not want to deny Folau the right to his view or the god he prays to. That’s his choice to make. And he has the right to share his views with the world, however he sees fit. That’s freedom. That’s democracy. Some can say they are offended, but offence is meaningless. Offence is a tactless way to end an argument. Also, it’s very self-righteous to do so. But some teenagers out there are dealing with more than just being offended. They are dealing with the knowledge that the god they’ve been brought up to believe in doesn’t love them. They are being told that the desires they cannot control are sinful and will land them a cosy spot in hell. With all this knowledge, all they can really do is torment themselves into thinking they are just a disgrace. And then, once they reach their limit, they kill themselves.
Now, before you scream at me, I know that Folau is not intentionally spreading his gospel truth so he can weed out the gays. I’m not that stupid, and I’m sure Folau isn’t that stupid either. But if you did begin to scream at me for that reason, then yes, you are stupid.
Also, you can tell he’s not by reading his latest post:
It sounds weird for me to say this, but I can see Folau wishes to save the gays and make them turn away from their devilish lifestyle. He’s been brainwashed into thinking that choosing who you have sex is like choosing a beer. Where it’s quite normal for a person to go from a pale ale to a Guinness if he so wishes. Personally, I can tell you it ain’t that easy. There’s a reason why people have preferences for which beer they’d like to drink, just like there are preferences for which gender you’d like to copulate with. If I put my heart and soul into it, I’m pretty sure I can work up the courage (and hopefully work up other things) to copulate with a woman, but I know I’m never going to enjoy it. Just like I’m sure Israel Folau will never really enjoy not reading his bible. Or, god forbid, Folau copulating with another man. Oh, the humanity. But consider this: How would you react if you were forced to not do whatever it is your heart desires? And, equally as pertinent, how would you feel if you forced yourself to do something you don’t like? George Orwell, 1984 anyone? No?
You see, this is why Folau saying that all gays will go to hell shouldn’t really be lauded as just another example of free speech. Because I cannot challenge the word of god, not even if I try. And neither can any of those teenagers and kids who are coming to terms with their sexuality, who happened to be a victim of circumstance by being born into a religious family. And if they cannot challenge the word of god, how are they supposed to react to the free speech given by Folau? Well, if they can’t challenge god, then they could challenge the flood of homophobic comments under every anti-gay post. Or, as a last resort, they could challenge themselves. And I’m sure we know where that can end.
Also, I can assure you that praying the gay away doesn’t actually pray the gay away, it just programs the victim into not acting on his desires. Now, doesn’t that sound democratic?
Another thing we must take into context here is how quickly the world has changed in regards to sexuality. It has been less than half a century since the Australian federal government legalised homosexuality, and 21 years since Tasmania followed all the other states and territories and became the last state to decriminalise homosexuality in 1997. And, it was only in November last year where over 70% of Australia’s electoral role voted on whether same sex marriage should be allowed and what still shakes me is that 4,873,987 of my fellow Australians said no. That’s a fifth of the Australian population who says I cannot marry another man. Sure, a majority of them don’t care if I am gay, and I can live with that, but this just goes to show how much of a struggle the gay community still go through in their day-to-day lives. And all any of us really want in the world is the chance to fall in love and get married. It’s been the epitome of Hollywood since the dawn of television. And soon the media outlets around the world will point their cameras and journalists towards a royal wedding. Marriage is not just a church tradition. It’s what binds us.
But forget marriage, us gays have more important things to to deal with. Like kissing our lovers goodbye without falling into a crippling anxiety attack over the pervading eyes around us. And for that, I’ll let this video explain:
Israel Folau’s conviction adds fuel to the burning fire of homophobia, even if he doesn’t realise it. Because while his comments are inciting a constant loop of self-hatred in the gay teenager who holds a strong faith in god, he’s also giving a mother the fuel to tell her lesbian daughter that she is not worthy in her house. There are, right now, too many gay teenagers living on the streets because their religious parents couldn’t stand to have them in the house anymore. It still baffles me how low a parent could go to disown their own son or daughter for something as stupid as who they have sex with. But, in this cruel world, it happens. And whether Folau knows it or not, he’s not helping with its resolution.
What’s worse is the platform that Folau uses to share his views. It’s a widely held understanding that anyone who holds a platform should use it for the benefit of the people they’re talking to. That’s why we have a code of ethics for journalism. Unfortunately, we don’t have a code of ethics for social media use. Well, not a universally binding one, at least. If Folau wanted me to become Christian, he should have the right to share that knowledge. Because I’ll have the choice to ignore it. But also because asking someone to be Christian isn’t really going to make people hate themselves. Nor is it going to send a wrath of believers spread vile hate speech in the comments. But, as Folau should know by now if he is reading this, telling gays they’ll go to hell does. Which means that there must be a prerequisite to free speech. The prerequisite being that we should know exactly what we are talking about, knowing that it is true, and understanding the people we are talking to. If Folau truly knew what it really means to be gay, the struggles we face, and how much impact words can have, do you think he’d so openly tell us we’re going to hell?
But, I’m probably preaching to the wind, because we live in a world wrapped up in wanting likes, comments and shares, even if it means saying lies or sharing shocking rhetoric. Which at least makes me thankful that having free speech doesn’t mean we are immune to rights of reply. If Folau wants to tell my fellow gays that they’ll go to hell, then I can use my (supposed) god-given talent to teach him the implications of his words. And I hope I’m not the only one.
I can also say that I’ll see him in hell, if it ever exists, since his lord says tattoos are a sin:
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” Leviticus 19:28
Isn’t free speech just glorious!