Love Rally in the Common: #1 Wingardium Leviosa

So when I came home Friday night after attending the Boston Love Rally in the Common, I went to clear my email, and came up against my first experience of homophobia.

This was an extended Facebook post in response to a meme I had shared:

14956021_10211404544376340_5055146694289710283_n

I did not think this was a radical statement, but rather the sort of thing any reasonable human being would agree with.

Oh, but Facebook.

The commenter was the leader of a popular culture Facebook group. I had had one disagreement with him before, when I posted something about rape culture, which he disparaged as propaganda. At that time, I acknowledged that women didn’t generally talk about these things but that I was sure if he talked to his mother, sisters, aunts, female friends, he would hear stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault, so many that it would surprise him.

This time he said, in small part: “I don’t like queers. (I’ll use the word queer as I can never get straight the ever changing alphabet soup acronym) I met my first one when I was 6 or 7. I of course did not know why I did not like him. I did not find out what he was until 20 years later. Same for a certain guy in high school. Again, I was unsophisticated, didn’t have a label for him. Found out later. Some I seem to have no issue with, many others simply provoke a sense of unease and physical revulsion. But get this, I am JUST like a gay person. I don’t deserve to be attacked, called names, shunned or marginalized because of my natural feelings. This is the thing you CryBullies do not embrace. If people are not with you, you attack them. Now, do I go around attacking queers because of my physical revulsion? No. Live and Let Live. I simply avoid them. I LOVE Trump because he is anti-you, —- —–. You and all of your CryBully friends. Martin Luther King would NOT be doing as you do. He would support what he chooses, but he would NEVER attack those who choose to not believe as he did. MLK would NEVER be a CryBully. Think about that.”

I have put a few things out on my Facebook feed since the election ended, and some things were probably less than even-handed, it is true. But why is it this particular meme that seemed to enrage him with my extremism? That is what I don’t understand.

I am glad that I did not see this until after midnight. In the time between its posting and then, my brother, his wife and son all posted defenses of me and what I had shared. This made me feel safer. (Never underestimate the power of allies when they step up.)

Obviously, I have left that group. I have not unfriended him and I have no intention of responding to him directly in any way, although like many of my friends, I will be posting a caveat and invitation to unfriend me if they disagree with what I post.

I have never claimed that Obama’s America is perfect. Has he stood up against policy horrors like the Trans Pacific Partnership? No. Has he stood up for Standing Rock? No, he is just letting that play out. I have been writing letters and signing petitions on these issues all year. Meanwhile, far too many acts of police violence against people of color and brutal murders of trangender people and white men raping women on the local level have soaked our newsfeeds red, and the law fails to support the victims. (More letters, more petitions.) So no, America isn’t perfect.

But for a long time it has been better than when we had segregation, and lynchings, and legal discrimination–oh, wait, that’s been returning lately. It has been better with more representation in the political process and the media of the non-white, non-male, non-Christian, non-straight Americans who make up a very big portion of America.

And in the last decade or two, it has become relatively safe in most parts of this country, especially in cities, for LGB people, who are out and even married. So I thought we were getting somewhere.

So much for that dream. Silly ignorant white girl. You should have known better. Just because it was good for you doesn’t mean it was good for a great number of people in this country, people you couldn’t see because they were far away or you just weren’t paying attention while you worked your three jobs.

So yes, now I am paying attention. And now I commit to act in more constructive ways for the people I haven’t been paying enough attention to. I cannot choose the reality of what America is: racist, sexist, homophobic. But I can choose the truth of what America always has the possibility to be: diverse, welcoming, egalitarian and loving of our neighbors even when we disagree. Have I always been good at this? Hell, no. But I can start now.

The haters are going to hate. You can’t change that. But I have been training all my life for this moment. Let it come.

9c39bd249168919860a6fee5a64ac4fa

“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” J.K. Rowlings

An Offering

Hug-graphic

So I have spent much of this afternoon reading people’s blogs about gender fluidity and figuring out that mess, stupid bathroom laws, parents who say that they love their children but refuse to go to their gay wedding because Christ doesn’t like gays, blah blah blah. And another blogger talking about being a very feminine woman and how to be a woman of action and a formidable women, and it all just sounds to me like being a person, although possibly a person in high heels?

Why are we all struggling so much to simply be who we are? (Um, probably patriarchy?)

Why do other people seem to want to force the whole world into these terribly narrow boxes with prescribed ways of being in the world? (Well, patriarchy…)

And why can’t I just give everybody who is suffering on the interwebs today a really big HUG? (Oh, honey, I can’t help you with that one.)

Queering Holy Week: Christianity Started Out Fairly Queer, Actually

While I was in seminary getting an MA degree in Christian theology (because I was burning out as an adjunct English professor), I worked with Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, a former lawyer-turned-theologian. I was lucky enough to proofread the manuscript for his first book, Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Following queer theorists like Michel Foucault, he uses “queer” beyond its umbrella category including all the members of the LGBTQIA etc. community. He argues that “Christian theology itself is a fundamentally queer enterprise because it also challenges and deconstructs–through radical love–all kinds of binary categories that on the surface seem fixed and unchangeable (such as life vs. death, or divine vs. human), but that ultimately are fluid and malleable” (Cheng 10).

I am thinking about this now because tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the lead into Holy Week when Christians remember the teachings of Jesus that we should love and serve one another, the death of Jesus at the hands of the religious and political elite, ending on Easter Sunday when we remember his resurrection, turning the most fixed and unchangeable human experience on its head.

I have celebrated these mysteries in communities with a considerable LGBT* presence before, though mostly in the Episcopal Church, but I have never thought of myself as engaging in subversion, except for the years when I sang as a female tenor in the Easter choir, and even then I wore a skirt for the Easter morning service (one of the rare non-wedding events I have worn a skirt to in the last twenty years or so). It will be interesting to view the services from that angle this year.

 

Cheng, Patrick S. Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Seabury Books, 2011.