Susan Olsen, best known for her role as Cindy Brady on the The Brady Bunch television show (ABC 1969-1974), hits it right on target as she talks about the damage that demonizing and being judgmental can cause to gay people. Olsen’s TV Dad, Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady, was gay. Reed died from complications related to AIDS in the early 90s:
Had [Robert Reed] been allowed to form a relationship with another man, he would have been the best husband ever and might still be alive. But Bob could not be at peace with this because the people surrounding him shoved their own judgement down his throat and, sadly, he bought into it. He thought he was wrong. He felt the shame that every hypocritical ‘God is love’ fundamentalist wanted him to feel.
I often think about this when I see folks who are against gay rights and who talk about the gay people who they love; either theoretically as a whole or in actuality as in a friend, family member or co-worker that they know. These people speak about how the difference of the beliefs, in their mind, doesn’t cause any harm; the relationship they have with the gay people that they know are a-okay. But their views do cause harm. It may not be a direct effect that they see, but whenever they spout about gays being wrong, it affects someone. People like Robert Reed still exist. They still buy into the judgement. They still are unable to find peace. Words can harm, no matter how much ‘love’ you put into saying them.