Homosexuality is a contentious issue when it comes to religion, with many arguing over what exactly the holy doctrines of these religions have to say about the matter. Many use the bible to justify their homophobia or their homosexuality, ranging from "It's a sin that is punishable by death", to "If you don't act on your urges, God will bless you", to "Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and with all of the other sins you ignore, why do you focus on my sexuality?" Of course, as an atheist, I find what holy books have to say on the matter completely irrelevant, which is not missed by many with whom I interact, mostly on social media forums. A question, and accusatory assertion, I often get is "Are you an atheist because you're gay?"
This is not a question that offends me, no matter what context in which it is being thrown at me. This is because all too often, I asked myself the same question when I officially lost the faith. Fact of the matter is, the most homophobia and hurt that I have experienced and witnessed firsthand was because of someone citing their religious beliefs as justification. It is enough to put a sour taste in anyone's mouth when you see your existence being whittled down to a couple of lines in a book that say that you deserve to be put to death. And then imagine being raised in such an environment where the anti-gay notions are enforced in your home, your school, your friends and your very culture. To be religious and a young gay man was emotionally and physically jarring on me as it caused me great depression and unhealthy eating habits that caused me to gain weight. So not only was I dealing with internal struggles from being gay, I was dealing with being called names for my weight, my skin tone, and the way I spoke. There was no way in hell I was going to give them more arsenal by outing myself.
Like the picture? It is a humorous meme, but if you ask anyone who has experienced constant persecution and denigration at the hands of a religion, it rings true. My entire childhood and teen years were marked by physical and psychological pain. But instead of getting the psychiatric help that I and my sister needed, a bible was thrown at us and we were told to read it and that it would heal us. Suffice it to say, it didn't heal or help. Half of the damn book didn't make any sense and the other parts were either crap I could hear on the street, or parts so immoral, it made me wonder if something was wrong with me for not seeing what was good about murdering women and babies in the name of Almighty Jah. But to answer the question that was asked of me: No. I am not an atheist because I am gay. To make a long story short(ish): I've only recently became an atheist; I've been gay for as long as I could remember.
Oh, and to answer another question that always comes up: Are you mad at God because you're gay?" Again, I am an atheist... that means I don't believe a god exists. It's kind of hard to be mad at something you don't believe exists. What does make me angry? People who use their gods and beliefs to justify their bigotry and homophobia. As far as I'm concerned you might as well tell me "I just read 'Green Eggs and Ham' and I believe women should be nothing but baby making receptacles that keep their mouths closed except when they're agreeing with the man." It is absolutely absurd to think that other people should not only adhere to your personal god and personal morality, but that we should respect your "right" to force it on us?
My sexual orientation is irrespective of my personal beliefs, or lack thereof. I won't lie and say that it didn't force me to do some serious soul searching, for lack of a better phrase, and to see how I could justify both believing in the Christian god and being gay. I also won't lie and say that when I could no longer believe, it didn't feel liberating to not be held to some arbitrary notion of eternal hell and a life of celibate misery. However, to say I am an atheist because I am gay ignores the millions of gays and lesbians around the world who aren't atheists and are devoutly religious. Asking me if I am an atheist because I am gay would be like me asking you if you're a theist because you're straight. It has nothing to do with what you believe; it's just a part of who you are as a person.
Okay, I'm done.