Whenever a young LGBT person gets kicked out by his or her parents or beaten by bullies, the violent bigotry often leads to the question: Did that person choose to be gay?
It's an entirely irrelevant question, but one that's symptomatic of the blaming and shaming that rendered 19-year-old Daniel Pierce homelesss after being attacked by his father during a failed family intervention to "pray away" the Kennesaw, Ga., teen's so-called lifestyle choice.
After learning about Pierce's story, one popular, straight male vlogger asked his followers an important question that elicited responses so strong he was brought to tears. In an effort to seek critical understanding of what it's like to be queer, Chris Thompson asked his LGBT followers: "If you could choose to be gay or straight, what would you choose?"
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After reading through the heartwrenching responses, Thompson clearly has something of an epiphany, realizing how much privilege he has as a straight, white male in a society that has historically told LGBT people that who they are — how they identify, regardless of whether it was something they "chose" or felt was innate — isn't valued, isn't "normal" and isn't welcomed.
"Don't take my word for any of this. Listen to them," he said. "These are the people that go through it and have firsthand knowledge of what's going on."
The pain of that rejection, as expressed in force by many of his courageous LGBT followers, isn't one Thompson knows personally. But he was clearly rocked by a deep empathy by the stories he heard. No one deserves to be told that they are "against God," undeserving of support or love.
"Listen to the hate and anger in those people's voices. Is that really what God wants?" Thompson asked. "These people don't really care about what God thinks, they care about the shame from the neighborhood of having a gay person under their roof." It's cloaked in the so-called hopes and prayers of professed Christians and others for LGBT people to go along with what's considered normal and acceptable.
And hearing those troubling responses from his queer followers — many of whom said they'd rather be straight if that meant an easier life — Thompson asked yet another important question: "Is being gay a choice?"
It's those responses that drove the point home for Thompson, who said he felt so angered by what he learned that he just wanted to "go out and fix it." But even he knows that, as someone trying to be an ally, the best thing to do is to self-educate, follow the leadership of the people being oppressed and try to help others elevate from their ignorance.
After referring his followers to sources of resources and support, including organizations such as the Trevor Project, Thompson had one parting message of hope and affirmation for so many of his fans enduring the everyday pain of bigotry for being queer:
"Regardless of your sexuality, be proud of who you are. Don't let people like these be afraid of who you are ... You are not alone."