First published by Gayles Books in 2011
ebook ISBN 978-0-9547693-6-9
© Alan Keslian 2011
All rights reserved
PROPOSITIONS OF THIS MANIFESTO
Humanism is a rational system of thought in which the primary objectives are human happiness and fulfilment, not adherence to supernatural beliefs. Humanism can be defined as working with others for the common good, or “Being good for goodness sake”.
This booklet is a manifesto - not in the sense of being a political party's pitch for votes - but in the sense of proposing a humanist view of the world specifically relevant to lesbians and gay men. Though written for lesbian and gay humanists, what it says may be of interest to others who are not gay, or who may be religious. Arguments are put forward to support the following propositions:
human characteristics vary from one individual to another; this variation is natural and desirable - it helps us to adapt and survive in a changing world;
human sexuality varies a lot; millions are strongly driven by sexual attraction to others of the same gender;
our sexual desires are deeply rooted in our personalities; with sexual love, as with relationships between human beings generally, variety should be expected to occur;
we should use observation and reason to develop our understanding of the world around us, testing our ideas out when practicable; we should challenge beliefs based on superstition, supposed messages from a god or gods, or traditions, especially those which conflict with rational understanding;
we should develop a moral compass to guide our actions; a compass that will help us judge what will be of benefit to ourselves and those around us, and steer us through the difficulties of life;
living among a heterosexual majority, we are constantly reminded of our own different natures; like other minorities, we may face questions about how we fit in;
being an identifiable minority, we are vulnerable to discrimination; we need to stand up for ourselves;
we should promote an outlook of tolerance and respect for individuality and difference in society generally;
whilst opposing those who condemn us because of our sexuality, we should give credit where credit is due; we should not undervalue kind and helpful actions performed by those with beliefs different from our own.
The following sections of this booklet further explain each of these propositions.
Human characteristics vary from one individual to another. This variation is natural and desirable. It helps us to adapt and survive in a changing world.
Darwinian evolution is the scientific theory which explains how different species of living things all developed from earlier forms through genetic variation and natural selection. Variations that help any form of life to thrive are part of the process that brings about new species. Because of the vast timescale and the many thousands of different species on the planet, the way evolution works as a whole cannot be tested and demonstrated in a laboratory. Nevertheless a huge body of evidence does exist; it comes from recorded observations of nature, from the selective breeding by humans of plants and animals, and through links to biology, the fossil record, geology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, chemistry and many other scientific disciplines.
Simple observations and experiments can be carried out by breeding species of plants or small animals to demonstrate that variations occur and are passed on from generation to generation. Some rules to predict how certain traits are inherited were identified by Gregor Mendel in the 1850s. He studied the characteristics of pea plants, and one of the milestones in his research was the discovery of pairs of dominant and recessive genes. Cross-pollination of plants that produced yellow seeds with plants that produced green seeds would result in some later generations having 100% of plants with yellow seeds, and some with 75% yellow and 25% green. No later cross-bred generations contained fewer yellow than green, and Mendel found it was possible to predict the percentages that would occur. He deduced that the traits of seeds being yellow or of being green occurred as a pair, and that the yellow trait was dominant. A plant inheriting one gene of each type, i.e. having the yellow from one parent and the green from the other, would bear only yellow seeds; only when both parents had the green trait would plants bearing green seeds result.