Politics and policies

Roster of Love

Roster of Love

After my earlier post Roster of Hate, about prominent fundevangelicals who attacked the supreme court ruling on same sex marriage, it occurred to me that there are also many prominent Christians who have expressed love and support, celebrating the victory. So here is my roster of LOVE – gay Christians and straight allies who celebrated the victory for LGBT people. Many of these people have positively impacted me (and I’m sure many others) through their writing and activism. There are MANY more, but I’ve just chosen a few that come to mind.

Liberal Compliment

Liberal Word

Ronnie Righteous: “Gosh Lance, lately it seems that you’ve become such a LIBERAL.”

Lance Lefty: “Aww, thanks Ronnie!”

RR: “Wait, no… that wasn’t a compliment!”

LL: “It sure seemed like one.”

RR: “No, you see – I’m a CONSERVATIVE. You are a LIBERAL. Do you even know what these words mean?”

LL: “Well, let’s see. According to this dictionary, liberal means ‘unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, enlightened, progressive, advanced, modern, forward-looking, forward-thinking, broad-based…’ Which of these did you mean?”

RR: “Stupid liberal dictionary makers!”

B*got vs. F@ggot

Bigot v FaggotFor more on Catholic Vote’s obnoxious video, read this excellent post entitled B*got vs. F@ggot by Domenick Scudera. Much more thoughtful than my own emotional reaction, Scudera spells out exactly why Catholic Vote’s video is offensive. Among the reasons:

  • “You are not a victim. Appropriating the language of victimhood is not the same as being a victim…”
  • “Your claims of loving gay people are hollow. If you truly cared about your gay friends, you would never compare your fake oppression to their genuine suffering and persecution…”
  • “Your opinion is a choice. Being gay is innate. Your video is cleverly edited to make it appear as if you are ‘coming out.’ “ Not in the least analogous to the experience of a gay person coming out.

Read the rest at Huffington Post.

What gave me away?

It was almost a year ago that I first saw a video of Panti Bliss giving an impassioned talk at the Abbey Theatre in Ireland. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve never had to deal with the level of abuse that she describes, but it makes me incredibly sad to think of the many LGBTQ people who do face such overt hatred.

Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window and they shout “Fag!” and throw a milk carton at you?

Now it doesn’t really hurt. It’s just a wet carton and anyway they’re right – I am a fag. But it feels oppressive.

When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over what was it about me, what was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I’m at a pedestrian crossing I check myself to see what is it about me that “gives the gay away” and I check myself to make sure I’m not doing it this time.

That part I can relate to, as I imagine many LGBTQ people can. I’m not talking about the abusive behavior, which somehow I’ve largely escaped. But rather the self-doubt that turns to self-hatred. The persistent fear that I will be “found out.”

Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the television and there is a panel of people – nice people, respectable people, smart people, the kind of people who make good neighbourly neighbours and write for newspapers. And they are having a reasoned debate about you. About what kind of a person you are, about whether you are capable of being a good parent, about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether you are safe around children, about whether God herself thinks you are an abomination, about whether in fact you are “intrinsically disordered”. And even the nice TV presenter lady who you feel like you know thinks it’s perfectly ok that they are all having this reasonable debate about who you are and what rights you “deserve”.

And that feels oppressive.

I let this happens to myself far too often. I keep revisiting the same online forums where I read this kind of debate, this hostility, this hatred. I tell myself I do it because I don’t want to be the kind of person who shuts out anyone who disagrees. But maybe I’m just a masochist.

Have you ever been on a crowded train with your gay friend and a small part of you is cringing because he is being SO gay and you find yourself trying to compensate by butching up or nudging the conversation onto “straighter” territory? This is you who have spent 35 years trying to be the best gay possible and yet still a small part of you is embarrassed by his gayness.

And I hate myself for that. And that feels oppressive.

If you haven’t seen Panti’s talk, it’s worth a watch.

Religious groups unite against gays

A recent colloquium brought together a stunning array of religious leaders. The Pope himself, along with evangelical heavyweight Rick Warren and Southern Baptist Russell Moore joined with leaders from Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, and even Jainist sects. What pressing issue could bring such a diversity of opinions together? Apparently, the answer is a fervent and shared contempt for gay people.

“The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.”

Awww, doesn’t that sound nice? They’re joining together to “…propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman.” Perhaps they could join together to celebrate the “natural strength of white people” or the “moral superiority of the rich.” I first learned about the colloquium through Jay Michaelson of the Daily Beast, who writes:

“Complementarity as conservative Catholics use the term, however, is more than biology. It stands for the proposition that the biological basis of procreation should also be the sole organizing principle of society. Only mating pairs constitute a family, and any configuration that is not a mating pair—divorced people, gay people, single people—are not to be legitimized. Otherwise, society will collapse.

“I am not exaggerating this position.”

Inflammatory? Sure. But the question is how much truth there is in it. Time magazine gives a more positive spin:

“The colloquium rallied around the theological concept of complementarianism, the belief that men and women have different roles in a marriage and religious leadership—husbands are spiritual leaders, and wives submit to them in love. To be “complementary” is to complete or fill the lack in the other thing. It opposes egalitarianism, the theological belief that men and women are equal in all respects in marriage and in religious leadership positions. Traditional Catholic, evangelical, and LDS belief interprets the Bible to support a complementarian relational structure. That may explain why mainline Protestant traditions that interpret the Bible to an egalitarian end—Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ—were not featured at the event.”

Who could object, right? It’s all about relationships and roles. But the Time article ends with a telling quote from Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council:

“The courts may declare otherwise, and Hollywood may depict its demise, but the union of a man and a woman as the natural and enduring definition of marriage will endure until the end.”

Note that the emphasis isn’t on enforcing traditional male and female roles within a marriage, but rather on defending and privileging heterosexual marriage. Of course Perkins would be happy about this. Family Research Council, a right-wing group founded by James Dobson as a division of his Focus on the Family organization, actively opposes and lobbies against LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption. Seriously – go read 10 Things You Might Not Have Known About the Anti-LGBT Family Research Council. OK so perhaps that’s just one participant’s view. But take a look at the Pope’s address to the colloquium, and you’ll see that he too is not advocating for complementary ROLES for men and women in a marriage:

“When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern.  Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma.”

So where is the complementarity, if not in the natural roles assigned to men and women? Apparently it rests solely in the fact that one partner should have a penis and the other a vagina. The Holy Father affirms that “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.” Not a family with a diversity of gifts; not a family where the parents contribute their unique strengths and play different roles. Just a family with a male parent and a female parent. He issues ominous warnings against “political notions,” urging us instead to embrace the “anthropological fact” that proper unions must be between a man and a woman.

“Just look at the list of speakers, a who’s who of theological conservatives from a breadth of Western religious traditions. There’s Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, which recently decided that transgender people don’t exist, and which expelled a church whose minister said he no longer believes homosexuality to be a sin—after his own son came out as gay. There’s Nigerian Anglican Primate Nicholas Okoh, who called the ‘homosexual agenda’ an “evil wind blowing across the Western world,” and who supports Nigeria’s vicious new anti-gay laws. And of course there’s megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who has strenuously denied helping to bring about Uganda’s anti-gay law, but whose fingerprints are all over it.” (the Daily Beast)

Sad that the only unity they can find is in their opposition to an already battered and beleaguered group.

Gay students at Christian colleges

Gay students at Christian colleges

As more students come out at evangelical colleges, administrators are cracking down on campus groups and faculty who give them support. A new advocacy group wants to change that.

The linked article from the Daily Beast describes the formation of Safety Net, “a new LGBT support coalition for Christian college students and alumni.” I’ve been thinking about this topic since reading Linda Robinson’s Just Because He Breathes, which was originally written for Biola Queer Underground, “a group of like-minded LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students and allies at Biola University who have formed a private underground community in which we share our life struggles, as well as our love and support for one another.”

A friend was recently telling me about things going on in the Seventh-day Adventist church relating to their treatment of LGBTQ members. The briefest of summaries is that a gathering of church leaders is being held to discuss how the church should “address the experiences of homosexuality and alternative sexualities;” however LGBTQ church members and allies have not been included in the discussion. In explaining why he continues in a church setting that systematically excludes him, he said

I realize, though, that there are many within who would find it very difficult to live without the church that they have always known, but they cannot speak up for themselves the way I can.

I find that inspiring. And it makes we wonder how I might support members of the LGBTQ community who feel disenfranchised by the Christian communities they are part of. Safety Net seems like a good place to start:

Safety Net is launching as an umbrella coalition for LGBT groups at 50 Christian colleges, including organizations like BJUnity (for Bob Jones University alumni and students), OneWheaton, OneGeorgeFox (George Fox University), and Biola Queer Underground. Most of the alumni groups are public, but around a third of the groups, mostly representing current students, are “underground,” not disclosing members’ identity for fear of expulsion, losing financial aid or students’ families cutting them off. (The Daily Beast)

Are any of you among my readers who are current students, alumni, faculty, staff, or administration at Christian colleges? What is/was the atmosphere like on campus for LGBTQ members of the community?