Why Bachmann Can't Just Pray The Gay Away

As Michele Bachmann shies away from her attacks on homosexuality, we must not assume that it’s an end to her persuasive prejudice. Having consistently formed her previous arguments against homosexuality with religious rhetoric, Bachmann has ensured that the prejudice will continue, so that for those who fear hell, simply permitting gay sexualities might feel like sheltering a Jew in Nazi Germany.

Of course, hell does not disappear when the politicians shut up. A recent Children’s Hospital Boston study of Massachusetts students found that 25 percent of gay and lesbian students are homeless along with 15 percent of bisexual students, compared to only 3 percent of heterosexual students. Though Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign has paved the way for change, we need to improve things right now by pouring resources into shelter, counseling and education. After all, when your sexuality impacts your ability to have a home, that’s an urgent situation.

However, the notion that Bachmann’s silence will only maintain the status quo falls short of the truth. Prejudice, when dampened, can actually intensify. For proof, consider Mitt Romney: Unlike Bachmann, Romney silences his religious views on the morality of gay sexualities, claiming his Mormon beliefs should not interfere with his political agenda. Yet he still openly opposes gay marriage. This not only implies that same-sex marriage is wrong on political grounds but also on an untouchable level — a double dose of prejudice that can potentially hit voters in a more subconscious, and likely, deeper way.

But the more we shout out about the importance of free sexuality, the less clout such silent arguments can hold. Take 17 year-old Gabe Aderhold, for instance, who attended Bachmann’s recent speech at the Iowa State Fair, away from the controlled environment of the Bachmann convergence therapy center. When Bachmann refused to take questions, Aderhold, who attended to challenge her about recent gay suicides in Bachmann’s district, shouted, “I am a second-class citizen because of you, Michele! You can’t pray the gay away.’’

Aderhold’s point was spot on, especially given the numbers of homelessness and suicide among queer teenagers today. But the fact that his statement hit the headlines is striking in itself. Following his example, sex-positive Bostonians, both young and old, need to make use of the silence on the right by shouting out our beliefs.

After all, in a hushed place, we’ll more clearly be heard.