by: Justin Ray
The media has attacked Kirk Cameron after his appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight because of his comments about homosexuality. Morgan asked what Cameron’s beliefs were in regards to homosexuality and the 41-year-old Growing Pains actor turned Christian Evangelist said, “I think that it’s unnatural,” Cameron said. “I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”
Following the interview, his quotes ran rampant on the web with Fran Drescher claiming Cameron needed to “reexamine what it is to be an American.” Fellow actors who worked on Growing Pains also spoke out against his remarks with Tracey Gold affirming that she was for equal rights and Alan Thicke commenting, “The Old Testament simply can’t be expected to explain everything.”
Of course, gays and allies of the community were upset about the comments and lampooned him for his opinions. GLAAD spoke out against his comments. Neil Patrick Harris tweeted that Cameron was “hilarious.” Even Perez Hilton labeled him “Icky Icky Poo.” However, I feel differently than most gays about the incident.
All throughout the history of the battle for same-sex rights, people in the LGBTQ community have used freedom of speech to voice our opinions: the Stonewall Riots displayed homosexuals speaking out against injustice, LGBTQ student groups have formed in even incredibly conservative schools, even now through this blog we exercise freedom of speech. Throughout gay history, we have faced harsh criticism and received death threats, but our speech has been legally allowed. Freedom of speech has allowed the community to have a voice even when others didn’t want to hear it.
It is quite clear that a lot of people disagree with what Cameron said, but we should defend his right to speak about his beliefs. If we don’t allow people to say what they desire, we would look like hypocrites; our ability to speak freely is the whole reason we have advanced in our battle for equality. In the interview, he was asked for his opinion and her gave it, even allowing himself to be lead by Morgan’s egging. He gave an answer that was honest — despite the acrimony that might lie ahead — one which like Morgan later admitted was brave.
Of course, a part of me is happy to see him face such scrutiny after making remarks against the community I am a part of, but we also see the intent of freedom of speech die as it happens. It would be different if he made hate speech in the vein of Westboro Baptist church, but remember: he wasn’t calling for gay genocide. The laws in the U.S. are meant to protect people from persecution for their beliefs, one of the best features of the country we live in. Not to bad mouth Fran Drescher, but I think Cameron actually is using his rights as an American very well.
I am a homosexual, and I want equal rights as much as the next gay. However, I have often engaged in heated discussions with people against gay marriage and equal rights for gays and these people didn’t want me to speak. They bullied me out of a voice. Now that the tables are looking like they are turning in this country for gays, I do not feel that oppressing people who are against gay marriage is the way to win the battle. Why don’t we use our voices too and have meaningful discussions about gay rights? It is my belief that intolerance and blind hatred comes from ignorance, which is the root of Cameron’s speech. I believe people can change without being obligated to. Am I a fool to think people won’t abandon provincial mindsets without force? Besides by bullying him, we only put him in defense mode and further hurt our cause.
I think gay people specifically shouldn’t criminalize him because our community has used laws to speak with unpopular opinions. He is within every right to exhaust those laws as well. I’d like to see the gay community lead, not follow, when it comes to his comments. Besides, Cameron is not Oprah. How many people will shout at their dinner tables, “Oh, Kirk Cameron is against gay marriage? I will be too then?” He does not have influence and probably many people had to Google his name to find out what relevance he had to society. Gays should not dwell on being offended; we should be empowered to have important dialogues and advance the foundations of our homo-civilization.
Justin Ray is a graduate student at New York University and intern for Billboard magazine. He has also been published by Design Bureau magazine. Other than writing, his main joy is partying. Formerly a workaholic in undergrad, when he got to NYU he put down the Hemingway and picked up the Tanqueray. You can see some of his design work at jray05.carbonmade.com and check out his website at StuffNYGaysLike.com.