I've come late to this thread, having been off-line for leisure purposes at least, since the beginning of the week.
I've read back through this & the previous thread, & am not about to quote anyone as I'll only get muddled & misquote. But like SeanM, I can see all sides & I think that (BIG BIG 'NOI intended' here) some of the difficulty in understanding each others' views is stemming from our countries of origin. I can sympathise which much of what Shambles has said, & I certainly didn't read his initial postings as homophobic in any way. We seem to have been very lucky indeed in the UK over recent years, in that, in the main, we have avoided experiencing too many ultra-extreme, or violent reactions to minority groups. I am trying to choose my words very carefully here.
I suspect this colours our reactions in just the same way as, for those of you in other areas, the experiences you are aware of will have coloured yours.
I am married (I know), heterosexual (I think), & have a circle of friends of whom, at a guess, about 25% are gay. My brother-in-law is also gay. Some of them are 'out of the closet', some not. Some frequent the gay scene, some don't. But I have met them all through their other various interests - quite a number are members of the Cat Fancy, & no, I don't think they became cat breeders because there are other gays involved.
I have never seen anyone react to any of them in an offensive manner, which is not to say that it doesn't happen - but for the most part they are leading their lives as individuals rather than as factions of a group. Perhaps if they were militant gays or lesbians then this wouldn't be the case; but as far as I'm aware the Gay Pride marches though London have been very peaceable & my brother-in-law has always gone on them. Not incognito either - anyone who saw a clip of the 1997 Gay Pride march on TV a few days ago, with 3 'girls' in flamboyant pink & turquoise dresses - he was one of them! My daughter has also marched with him for the last 2 years.
Usually I seem to be blithely unaware of people's sexual proclivities, & am just as likely to assume people are gay when they're not, as the reverse.
So no, I'm not anti-gay. In fact, the only thing I'm anti is (are?) those forming part of highly agressive groups intent on thrusting their beliefs in other people's faces - minority groups or otherwise. They just invite agression & suspicion in return.
I'm also a pacifist & I'm not intending to start or prolong any arguments here, as I hope you can see. I daresay my viewpoint might be different if I was gay, or if I was a member of any minority group living in a very intolerant area. But I can only go by my own experiences & those of the people I come into contact with, & surely that is all any of us can do. We need to keep open minds in order to learn from others we come into contact with and their experiences, and I am bitterly sorry if anyone, of any race, colour or persuasion, becomes a victim because of the intolerance of those who feel themselves unable to accept that not everybody is the same as them.
Oh and Jeri, if you're still following this thread & have read through my undirected waffle, I now realise you're a girl, I'd assumed you were male! But I don't care. Tam Lin have done some kitchen recordings which include Sweetness of Mary, & are also producing a CD in July, but in the meantime I shall see if the tape is good enough to put some sound clips on the web site.