Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pulpits Consumed in Flames.


We gays confront bigotry on a daily basis.  We gays start new jobs with trepidation, unsure of how and when to come out.  We gays don’t hit on guys unless certain that he “swings” the same way, because hitting on the wrong straight guy can send you to the hospital.  No matter how liberal our city, we gays retain some aspect of fear that the people with whom we interact have fallen prey to the angry, hateful message propagated by individuals who claim G-d as theirs and theirs alone.
We gays suffer from the same flawed, limited world view that judges and hates.  We gays are no better than our adversaries.
If you are reading this blog you are probably aware that a cultural battle over the place of gays in society rages in America.  While I, and the majority of my gay peers and our allies, speak the language of equality and advocate the removal of secular law from within the tentacles of religion, the right leaning, conservative, Judeo-Christian caucus more often than not labels us as sinners and condemns us to Hell.  Two groups of people waging a rhetorical war, each adamantly believing in their cause and neither willing to budge an inch.  This conflict is steeped in hate that pollutes both parties and detracts from the validity of both arguments.  We frequently see this exemplified by those on the religious side.  Consider, by way of example, the recent viral Youtube video depicting two young boys singing “ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven” in church while standing before a cheering crowd of worshipers.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4LHw3KWS9A).  Watching it made me sick to my stomach.  But, I am ashamed to say, we gays do not always take the high road.  Recently (not as recently as I’d like but I haven’t had time to write), at a speech to a group of young adult journalist-wannabes, Dan Savage took a few minutes to preach his message that young Americans should overcome the “bullshit” of the Bible.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao0k9qDsOvs).  If you watch the video you will note that dozens of attendees left the hall, offended by the hateful message Savage spewed.  Nothing suggests that they left because Dan Savage is gay and his presence offended them.  Nothing in their actions connotes homophobia.  They responded to Savage’s theophobia--his intolerance for the religious beliefs of others.  I won’t go into the ways Savage misrepresented both the Jewish and Christian understandings of the Bible.  I’m sure many individuals better versed in the intricacies of this subject have written extensively on the topic and I would fail to do it justice. 
I firmly believe that fighting fire with fire, wielding a tongue barbed with intolerance because someone attacked you with a comparable weapon, leaves no one uninjured and results in absolutely no progress.  As the saying goes, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”  I understand both sides of this feud.  After all, at the end of the day being both religious and gay means I stand with one foot in each camp.  G-d, as I understand “Him”, loathes hate.  He created the emotion for the rare occasion where nothing else would suffice.  The one place I recall hate being condoned is with the relationship between the Jews and Amalek.  Love.   Pity.   Compassion.  These are the tools we should use to counsel people and make them understand our perspectives. 
To the faithful believer who cannot fathom a world where homosexuality is morally acceptable, don’t challenge me with fire and brimstone.  Don’t claim a superior  connection to a god neither of us has yet encountered.  Tell me about everything included in the Bible.  Preach to me with love, embrace me as your brother, and, if you must, pity me because you think I have gone astray (thought I would never concede that final point).
To my gay peers, I understand the pain and anger felt when someone bashes you for being true to yourself.  But be warned, you will never succeed in changing their minds and winning support by digging your heels in and responding with a bull-headed argument that religion, or that understanding of religion, is out of vogue.   Rather, paint a fuller picture.  Use the colors of the rainbow you so proudly display to prove that you are not limited by your sexuality and that you are a complete person.  It warms my heart to know that I am not alone in this belief system.  (http://outoncampus.org/uk/misc/946/anti-gay-leader-invited-to-lesbian-family-dinner). 
Accept your disagreement and fight in the courts to determine the future of the country, but don’t hate.   There’s no need.   You will accomplish nothing by adding more strife and bitterness to the world. 

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