Oklahoma is known as the reddest-of-the-red state because every county voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election. It also has one of the highest percentages of Baptist believers in the nation. This got me wondering–what about our LGBTQ community here? How does it feel to be gay in a community that is viewed to be largely and inherently at odds with your life? How does religion play into their lives, and how to Christians feel about the LGBTQ community?
I interviewed five members of the LGBTQ college community, and three college students who are straight and Christian to get their thoughts.
Based on the interviews, which you can watch in the video above, the consensus is that it can be very uncomfortable expressing your sexuality in Oklahoma as an LGBTQ person. All interviewees but one struggled gaining acceptance from their families when coming out–some ties seem broken for now but all were optimistic for an understanding future.
Opinions on religion vary greatly among both the LGBTQ members and straight Christians. Three LGBTQ members identified as either Christian or believing in a higher power while two are not religious.
The straight Christians were slightly divided on their views of homosexuality–that it is a sin according to the Bible but it remains unknown whether that sin is equal to other sins, and whether you can be a Christian and continue to live a “gay lifestyle.”
Two things bring these two groups together across the board, though. First, all yearn for love and understanding. The second was the most interesting thing I realized while doing this project:
Many Christians are afraid to speak up on their beliefs on homosexuality because they are afraid of being labeled by the LGBTQ community and maybe even society in general as “homophobic” solely because of religious views (that may or may not spill over into political views). It struck me that this is, ironically, what most members of the LGBTQ community experience for the first part of their lives, too. They have the same exact fear of being open and honest about who they are and their beliefs, to avoid a negative stigma being applied to them by their religious counterparts and also society in general.
Moral of the story: No matter your religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation, it is important not to judge others. Live your life according to what you believe is right.