A post in which I muse a little, raise questions, and answer very little…..
I Tweeted earlier:
I sincerely believe that it is easier to publicly proclaim your sexuality than it is to declare mental illness and personality disorders.
This was met with a small chorus of agreement.
This thought derived from an incident on a prominent Christian forum in which a gay atheist activist took exception to the fact that the moderators had requested he change his provocative avatar. The avatar was of two naked men in an implicit homoerotic embrace. Given the history of this particular guy on the forum, which is typified by aggression – bordering on the threatening – vileness, rudeness, bullying, accusatory sentiment, ad hominem, Christian hatred, and so forth, it was plainly obvious to many that the avatar was designed to provoke.
This guy decided not to comply with the request of the moderator and subsequently was forced to do so.
The ensuing indignation from him and his supporters was quite breathtaking, and it wasn’t long until this polite request for him to change his avatar was conflated with the holocaust in accordance with Godwin’s Law.
What struck me most forcibly however, were the accusations flying around of Christian homophobes persecuting a gay man in violation of his “rights”. It didn’t take long to determine that this fellow identified himself primarily in terms of his sexuality; which he readily acknowledged.
This strikes me as odd, as we are all sexual beings one way or another and yet most of us don’t feel the need to define ourselves primarily by this trait, nor, make our sexual preferences a matter for public consumption. I would venture that we are in fact multi-faceted beings, with our self-identity being derived from many sources, both past and present.
In truth, the whole nature / nurture debate surrounding sexual orientation is of little import to me, even though it incorporates the contentious issue of reorientation therapy. To be truthful, I couldn’t imagine any amount of therapy reorientating my sexual proclivity.
Of course, the reasoning behind a person, especially a gay person, publicly parading their sexuality, is in the cause of changing societal sexual norms; especially in the realm of prejudice or discrimination. And let’s be frank, the Gay community has been enormously successful in this endeavour.
To self-describe as Catholic / Christian is, in the minds of some, to effectively declare yourself a homophobe. A person characterised by hatred of homosexual folk. And with the label homophobia being conflated with racism and such, it is certainly not something a person wishes to be associated with, and is indeed the ultimate conversation stopper.
On an aside, the word homophobia first appeared in print in an article written for the 23 May 1969 edition of the American tabloid Screw, in which it was used to refer to heterosexual men’s fear that others might think they are gay. It has also been used to describe a fear of people who ‘come out’ as homosexual. (SOURCE)
The term phobia obviously relates to fear and I would aver that the very term “Homophobia” now elicits a fear within some Christians; namely, the fear of being viewed as an unreasonable, bigoted, hate-filled, discriminator.
As it happens, I view homosexuality as “disordered”. There I said it. Does that mean I hate homosexuals? Absolutely not. Nor am I in “fear” of them. The fact is, you see, I view homosexuality as just one of a myriad of disorders that afflict the human race. I have my own disorders, and I seek to fight against them. That’s my choice. And others are free to view disorders in a favourable light and embrace them and let them form the basis of their identity.
Do I view homosexuality and Christianity as incompatible? Who the heck am I to judge another! A queer Christian has his / her own dealings with God, that are frankly non of my business.
But all of this pondering got me to thinking down a different line.
With so many different sub-cultures fighting for equality, there’s one group that always seems to get left behind, and that’s the mentally ill or personality disordered.
It strikes me that in our politically correct society, with the rights of so many being promoted through the powerful mechanism of Newspeak, it is still perfectly acceptable to malign another using mental health terminology. Not many folk would use the terminology now employed by the gay community to self-describe; in a pejorative manner. And yet this change has not taken place in relation to the terminology used to describe debilitating mental illness.
The obvious example is to employ the terms “mad”, “lunatic”, or “insane”, when debating someone. Or perhaps to label someone as schizophrenic when they exhibit the very common trait of cognitive dissonance. It’s interesting to note that even the Oxford English Dictionary has a secondary definition of schizophrenic as: “With the implication of mutually contradictory or inconsistent elements”.
I’m sure you can think of many other examples in which deploying the language of clinical mental illness diagnosis to describe everyday personality traits is used.
Many seem to labour under the misapprehension that using these mental health metaphors is simply a joke, not to be taken seriously. But I believe these language tactics further obfuscate conditions that are widely misunderstood and stigmatised. It’s deeply upsetting to sufferers, and is part of the process of creating and perpetuating stigma around mental illness.
Why hasn’t the mentally ill community made progress like other groups?
Firstly, because of the very nature of the illnesses. Secondly, because how does it sound to have a “Schizophrenic Pride” march? Or perhaps, “Mad Pride”? It’s not great is it.
And in amongst the stigma surrounding mental illness, believe it or not, there is a stigma within a stigma. I am referring to Personality Disorders.
How does this sound to you:
Hi, I’m Stuart, a diagnosed Psychopathic personality.
Hi, I’m Stuart, a Narcissistic personality.
Hi, I’m Stuart, a Borderline personality.
Hi, I’m Stuart, a Schizotypal personality.
Doesn’t sound great does it.
How about we bring the much maligned Christian label into the mix? How “proud” are we then?
On top of the debilitating symptoms or these personality disorders is a HUGE whack of shame.
Again, I don’t care much for the nature / nurture debate surrounding these disorders; one thing I do know, is that the folk afflicted with these, didn’t choose, or bring it on themselves.
Who really are the maligned, persecuted, discriminated, mocked, belittled, humiliated, within this society?
Who should really have pride?
Who’s rights really need fighting for?
I’ll leave it there…..