The Hounding Of A Young Gay Writer, Ctd

A reader writes:

I’m with you on this one.  I’m a late-blooming gay from a fundamentalist background (who came out when I was 34, now 38). After a brief foray into fiery, intolerant atheism, I’ve had to take a few steps back after realizing that not believing in a church’s worldview doesn’t make me better than anyone, especially when I try to enforce that belief with equally rigid legalistic intolerance of dissenting opinions.  And I’ve been growing increasingly irritated by the leftist purity crusade I see in some quarters, where there’s no forgiveness for and listening to people who do not come to the table pre-converted to liberal opinions.

If the left wants to hold itself up as “better than”, then they have to actually BE better.  This will require them to do the things they are mad at fundamentalists for not doing: listening to the stories of people who disagree with them and recognizing their common humanity and basic dignity.

Another dissents:

Why are you making lazy rebuttals in defense of someone making terrible arguments that you mocked only hours earlier? Using language like “the new gay intolerance”? And only a day or two after getting into a cat fight with Rod Dreher about it?

There are specific criticisms being levied at Ambrosino’s take on gay issues, exemplified by the fact that he thinks Jerry Falwell was not a homophobe. The criticisms are: he is overly considerate of the feelings of people who are obviously bigoted while utterly dismissive of the concerns of people who have been and are being discriminated against. Pointing out Ambrosino’s age is well-taken – many develop bad writing habits while young and just need a good editor to break them of their lazy contrarianism. On the other hand, some can never quite purge themselves of their lazy contrarian streak, Andrew.

Zing! More readers defend the young writer:

Isn’t the point of hiring Ambrosino to take a raw talent and help him become a better writer?  Or is that what the folks who are railing against him are afraid of?  That he might actually become a better writer and express himself in ways that are more convincing than they are now?


I’m the fiction editor of a literary magazine based in Philadelphia, and there are few things more rewarding to me then reading a distinctive voice and a different point of view. I like being taken to unexpected places. A really, really good personal essay can do that like few things can.

And that Atlantic piece Ambrosino wrote about being gay at Liberty U qualifies as to all that. I had never heard of him before yesterday, and with all the pile up on his head, I read that essay expecting to find, from all the invective, some self loathing, conversion therapy endorsing resident of Crazyville.  What I read was a writer neither taking nor giving any easy paths out.  He showed complexity.   He allowed me to see as non caricatures both an institution and the people in it.

I will never like Jerry Falwell. As far as I’m concerned, Christopher Hitchens’ line about giving Falwell an enema and burying him in a shoebox is pretty accurate. But I didn’t know him. Brandon did. And he has the right to allow the reader to see Falwell in a way that is different than Hitch’s was because he knew him in a different way.  It takes both writing skill and courage to do that. And I think the guy has both.

I hope Vox doesn’t back down. And I look forward to reading more of Ambrosino’s work.