Old Age and Religious Beliefs No Excuse for Homophobia

The world in 2022 is a very different place than it was 10, 20, or 50 years ago regarding society’s acceptance of differing sexualities. Younger generations are continuously becoming more progressive, people of all ages are more comfortable than ever coming out, and laws protecting LQBTQ+ rights and equality continue to evolve. 1 thing that seems to be unchanging, however, is aging, religious people’s stance that queerness and queer relationships are a sin.

I am not trying to generalize and say that all elder religious people are necessarily this way. I know many, and I’m sure there are many more that are accepting, or at the very least, open to becoming accepting. However, it’s commonly known that the younger generations are more accepting than the older. Many claim that they’ve lived their whole life being taught and believing that homosexuality is a sin. That they can’t change that now. But is this excuse valid?

I choose to believe not. I know that when one believes something for so long, it can be hard to change. Senior Dani Benavides said, “Religion and moral beliefs can be really powerful, in the sense that if you are really set in stone about something, it’s almost impossible to give it up.” But I think that when it comes to something as personal and important as sexuality, people need to try harder to understand.

A lot of older people lack the understanding of how hard it oftentimes is for queer people to accept themselves, let alone feel accepted by others. Coming to terms with your own self can be a taxing journey on the mind and the body. When someone decides to come out, the ONLY acceptable response is support and encouragement. Even if the listener feels uncomfortable or hesitant about what they’re being told, they need to swallow down those feelings. It’s not about you.

“The people that are the most against queer relationships and the LGBTQ community are people who are the least educated on it. People who don’t have gay friends or live in super conservative and homogenous areas have this negative disposition about queer people in their minds because they’re scared of what they don’t know,” Benavides said. “But if they actually were to be around people who are queer and have personal relationships and connections with them, they would realize that gayness is not the ‘sin’ they’ve been constantly told it is; it’s just as simple as a preference.”

“I think a lot of older people were taught that their lives had a distinct formula they had to follow,” said senior Kiera Roux. “It is hard for them to comprehend that our society has moved away from the nuclear family ideal, and are often off put by younger generations’ openness and personal insight towards love. I honestly think that for a lot of them there is an underlying envy that their descendants are allowed the freedom to love openly – an opportunity they were never given.”

Ultimately, learning to become more accepting begins with coming from a place of compassion and an openness to learn. Some people are naturally born empathetic, but for others, understanding can be more of a challenge. But no matter how old someone is, or what they have grown up believing, everyone does have the potential to change. Beliefs are not permanent. No matter what age, you can always keep learning. Old age, and a lifetime of learned homophobia, is not an excuse.