What is our Christian Response to bigotry?

February 9, 2007

I’ve been watching around the blogosphere as my Open Letter to the Archbishop and its corresponding Petition continue to draw attention, by both friend and foe.

The unfriendly attention is what I focus on now.  No, I’m not going to address the unfriendly critics.

I’m going to focus my attention to my own audience; GLBT folks.  GLBT friendlies are welcome here too, but this is primarily directed at  GLBT folks themselves.

What I realize after reading some of the response is how easy it is to sit back and just be.  I do not plan on responding to the unfriendly blogs, nor calling them out, nor posting on them.  But I do plan on reading them to remind myself what they are saying.  It is much too easy for us to get comfortable.  We have, for too long, sought to find places of comfort in order to avoid such attacks, especially after the painful process of coming out.

The problem is that finding such places of comfort lulls us into a false sense of security.  We can, if we ignore people like those who create such vitriol, find ourselves believing that things are all ok.  That is why I believe we must claim our identity for ourselves.  We must be realistic in where we are.  Are we moving forward on the journey to equality?  Absolutely.  Do all of us suffer from systemic oppression?  Yes and no.  No, because we find places of comfort and stay there.  Yes, because we are forced into those comfort zones and do not have the same freedom as our straight counterparts to move about in society with the same ease and carefree attitude that straight folks can.

We have our “gay ghettos” of West Hollywood, of the Village, and of the Castro.  But do we have them because we have claimed them? Or because we have been forced into them, our only free places in a world which otherwise prefers us to keep silent about our identity?  Because if we do not keep silent we are seen as “militant,” as “wearing our sexuality on our sleeve,” or some other nonsense.  Of course, nobody accuses straight folks of being militant simply for introducing their spouses at a public event.

If we stay in our comfort zones, we can forget that there are still so many places where we are accused of being militant just for introducing ourselves as we are.  So yes, I do say that we all suffer from systemic oppression– whether or not it plagues us as directly as the oppression of gay bashing in violence, or of marriage discrimination, or whatever.  If we find a place where we think “I’m comfortable” and stop working for the full equality of our identity as gay and lesbian people, we all lose.  We become trapped trying to find ways to either stay in our ghettos or to become as much like our heterosexual counterparts as we can, trying to rationalize our existence against theirs.

We don’t have to do either.

We have a unique perspective on reality.  We can see things from a broad perspective; we tend to have a big picture view that looking through the lens of difference gives us.  When we grow up being told “you are a woman and you should act this way” but our inclination is to act another way, we look for creative solutions that start to open up new horizons.  When our parents say “boys don’t…” but we do and we realize it, our universe is expanded.  We can see both/and pictures where the world presents us either/or pictures.  And the world is better off for that contribution of ours.  Lets face it– the stereotype that we are in creative industries doesn’t come from nowhere.  We do have a creative talent, generally speaking.

We can use our creative energy, not to hide, not to be comfortable, but to seek our identity collectively.  We can present a conscious picture of who and what we are and are not.  We decide that.  Nobody else.  We must learn our history; of the beginnings of homophobia 200 years ago, of the place of gay people in the Holocaust, and certainly more recently of Stonewall and the progression of our march since then over 30 years ago.  Claiming that identity, we become more emboldened.  We become less likely to want to assimilate, to want to find places of comfort, we develop a pride that consists not simply of being a part of the annual June events in our community, but to work for change so that the events can be even more meaningful and freeing as we work not only for our own equality but to ensure that every human being has equality and dignity on this earth.

So when the opposition writes garbage about us, when they continue to insist that we are about promiscuity even though we’ve explained until we’re blue in the face that its about relationships- just the same as them (or, judging from the way they treat us, maybe not the same as them), we don’t have to explain it anymore.

I know when that the question comes up I just want to say, “Look, when you introduce your wife, do I ask her how you like to screw her?”  Of course not.  So why, then, do you insist on asking that about me?

And, perhaps more importantly for us, why have we felt compelled to answer when they ask?

I think right now my response when they ask is to smile, remain quiet, pray for them, and take a line from everybody’s favorite gay bishop, ++Gene Robinson:  “Love them anyway.”

j

PS – I highly commend reading today’s Daily Office.  When read through our unique lens as GLBT people, it gives us hope and strength, remembering those who speak against us, who are so wrapped up in themselves (they call us “lovers of ourselves;” whose love of self and fear leads to biggotry?), and looking for hope to the future.  It also speaks to the justice and truth contained throughout the Bible, and how our opponents pick and choose the messages they convey.  There is clearly a message of justice here- Holy Scripture contains themes over and over that talk about bring those on the margins to the center.

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2 Responses to “What is our Christian Response to bigotry?”

  1. elaine fox Says:

    Um…how about spelling bigotry correctly… 🙂

  2. Jeff Says:

    Hi Elaine– maybe it was symbolic of how “bigggg” the problem is!

    🙂

    Thanks for pointing it out, and it’s corrected now.

    j


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