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Why I’m Wearing Purple This Friday

October 18, 2012

I will be wearing purple this Friday, October 19.  Depending on whom you ask, I am either taking a stand against bullying of gay and lesbian teenagers, or I am supporting “the homosexual agenda.”  If you ask me, I will tell you that I am showing love and support for teens who have same-sex attractions and speaking out against violence and bullying.  Friday is Spirit Day, when Americans are asked to wear purple to “to speak out against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.”


Fr. James Martin, a prominent writer and Catholic priest, has called upon Catholics to wear purple on October 19 to show compassion for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, especially those who have been bullied or even driven to suicide.  Research shows that gay and lesbian teens are four times more likely than straight teens to attempt suicide, and gay teens with rejecting families are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide as those whose families accept them. 


Being a teenager is hard, period.  Almost all of us remember what it was like to feel rejected because we were too thin, too fat, or had acne, or weren’t popular.  Everyone knows what it’s like to feel you don’t belong.  Just imagine how this must feel for gay and lesbian teens.  What a tragedy it is when these young people are bullied and mistreated, or when they believe that their only choice is to end their lives.


You may think it strange that a conservative Catholic Christian like me, who supports traditional families, would be wearing purple for this cause.  I don’t agree with many of the positions of GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and I have deep concerns about same-sex marriage.  But I would never want a young person to believe that they deserve to be bullied or mistreated because they are attracted to people of the same sex.  As Fr. Martin has pointed out, The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that gays and lesbians are to be treated with “respect, compassion and sensitivity,” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”  This is part of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.  In “Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages parents of gay and lesbian children not to reject their children, but to continue to offer love, support and understanding, even when they disagree with their choices.


The late evangelical author and speaker, Barbara Johnson, also spoke poignantly about this issue.  As a conservative Christian, she became estranged from her youngest son when she discovered that he was gay.  Her harsh reaction to him caused him to disappear from her life and disown his family.  However, after years of difficulty, they were eventually reconciled.  As a result of her own experience, Barbara spent years ministering to parents of homosexual children, encouraging them to offer love and not rejection.  She noted, “The greater sin in our church is that of neglect, fear, hatred, and just wanting to brush [gay] people aside.  We’ve wanted to push these people under the rug.”  As Barbara would say, the rug has gotten so lumpy now that we have to decide how we’re going to deal with it.  With so many gay and lesbian teens hurting, Christians cannot afford to be silent.


All of our children deserve to know that they are unique, special and loved, regardless of their sexual orientation.  All of our children need to be free to live their lives without fear.  You don’t have to support “the homosexual agenda” to show a teenager that you care.  Wear purple this Friday.



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