November 5, 2012
I never gave homosexuality much thought until 1982. Until then, like many folk, I allowed others to define homosexuality. Best I remember it was always through derisive language. Such language seemed more the norm than not, in those days. Then 1982 came along and the language become so disdainful it called for new and deliberate thinking.
The intolerable language came from a surprising and not so surprising group folk: Christian pastors. “AIDS is God’s wrath on homosexuals,” became the Christian mantra. It’s not that all Christian pastors held this viewpoint, but rather the lack of a public Christian voice speaking the opposite led much of society to believe this rhetoric as Christian.
The 1980’s naiveté is mostly gone now and thinking is more just; AIDS is a human rather than Gay epidemic; biblical criticism endorses Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Inter-sex, Questioning/Queer (GLBTIQ) folk as naturally and wonderfully created; And what is right for straight folk is right for GLBTIQ folk. The naiveté is mostly gone, but not entirely.
In Washington State, Referendum 74 (R74) is on the ballot, (Approving Referendum 74 means the State and the law would approve the marriage of all people, including GLBTIQ folk.) and with it a bit of 1982 is back. Language, spoken by those against R74, is not the in your face ’82 language of “God’s wrath,” but, to be sure, it is just as painful for it separates family, neighbor, and community. It is possible to say “I don’t have a horse in this race” and stand to the side, but if next week comes along and we, as a whole, as a society, continue to hold people apart, separated and segregated from the rights and joys we (straight folk) ourselves enjoy, then we are the cause of their hurt.
Hard language, “we are the cause.” Yet, we are one people whether we like it or not. If those of us who wholly and fully accept our GLBTIQ sisters and brothers as created, if those of us who have married our GLBTIQ sisters and brothers outside of State and legal approval, do not speak, do not act, and do not convince our straight brothers and sisters that we are called to radical and open equality, then we, ourselves, have also missed the mark. Only when we hold ourselves—in my case a Christian Pastor—accountable, do we begin accepting the reality that when another hurts, so do we. Such accountability breaks through the illusion that we are alone and on our own, and that our faith is individual rather than communal. Instead, such accountability brings us into awareness that salvation is ours rather than mine and it is possible now rather than tomorrow.
A hundred years from now—ten more decades—we are all hanging out with our ancestors. Our actions of today will tell a story we can no longer speak. It may be another story of segregation, but imagine if it is a story of a people who gathered their wits, girded their loins, and entered into the fray because this was the time to bring forth a radical equality serving to better the lives of their community’s children and their children’s children.
Thank you for listening! There is so much to say and this writing was a hard one settle in with one story…
Dave, you have written a fine statement. My own understanding of the matters you discuss has changed over time, and I am grateful that the mood of America is changing and a greater degree of justice is coming into being. Even yet, however there are ways of tripping up in our language when we are discussing matters that are greatly different from matters dealing with sexuality. Keith
Thanks Keith!..And good thought. Seems I too often trip over my feet of language!