3.31.11 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 0

SteveBlanchardHeadshotAt times our LGBT leaders seem to have an inclination for overreaction.

I respect and fully support LGBT advocates and activists who are fighting for full equality for me and my community. But guys, sometimes it’s important to step back and see where the important battles lie.

Recently, the LGBT movers and shakers on the equality front got all up in arms about two iPhone applications they say are gay and dangerous to LGBT youth and our community as a whole.

Anti gay? Probably. Dangerous? I’m not so sure.

The e-mails I received about the apps said they put LGBT people in danger and subjected our youth to mistreatment by society. Apple failed, those emails said, in its responsibility to keep offensive, inaccurate information out of its app store.

That sounds scary, doesn’t it?

The apps were created by anti-gay groups Exodus International based in Orlando and the lesser known Manhattan Declaration in New York.

The first group mentioned created an app later approved by Apple as containing no objectionable material offering support for those struggling with their sexuality and basic steps toward a so-called cure. Exodus has made a name for itself as the place to laughably cure those gay tendencies.

The second group offered a simple survey asking questions about sexuality and abortion rights. If the user’s answers supported same-sex marriage rights or a woman’s right to choose, then an incorrect message was shared, along with information on how to fight marriage equality and abortion.

Personally, I think both apps are laughable. Exodus International isn’t seen as legitimate by anyone of merit. The American Psychological Association has said that ex-gay therapy doesn’t work and the organization has had so many internal scandals that no one can take them seriously. Two of the organization’s original founders both men eventually ran off together to get married!

The Manhattan Declaration is a Christian group with strong, right-wing Christian views that seem to follow the Bible literally. Of course I disagree with their stances on LGBT issues, but am not surprised by their opinions, considering the source.

Petitions signed by thousands of people asking the two apps to be removed from the Apple store were successful and both technologies were removed. But this is all an overreaction from our side.

The people looking to use these apps are already anti-LGBT, so it’s a case of preaching to the choir. Why would a gay man or lesbian, for example, download an application that is obviously disrespectful to him or her? A young LGBT person has the internet and LGBT community centers to get guidance.

If an atheist group was upset over a Bible app, does that mean Apple should be pressured into removing that application because a certain amount of people that don’t believe in God sign a petition? What’s the magic number? 100,000 signatures? 500,000?

A line must be drawn somewhere. Apple is not a company serving a niche population. It has made technology affordable and available to the masses and that includes those who have different opinions than ours. Just because something is offered doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Technology is the library of the 21st century. Imagine if we walked into a public library and demanded anything written by an anti-gay author be removed. If we allowed that, then any anti-LGBT individual could demand the removal of LGBT literature.

That rings of Nazi Germany, to me.

Look at some of the apps that service the LGBT community. You have Grindr, Scruff and Encounter all geared toward finding a local hook-up, I mean, romantic interest. Sure, those apps have limitations on photo content, but if someone were to tell me they found those apps offensive, I would simply tell them to avoid them.

We have far greater battles to wage rather than trying to ban apps that a group of people already set in their ways are going to download. Marriage Equality is gaining in acceptance, anti-gay bullying still needs its national spotlight and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell still need to be fully redacted.

Battle lines are important. But focusing on the important fights is even more so.

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