If a conservative religious traditions can’t give their mothers or sisters full equality, how can we expect them to give a GLBT individual the time of day?
Outrage. Anger. Fear. Hatred. These are just a few of the words that flashed across my Twitter feed as I woke up on that fateful Wednesday, June 26 morning when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was unconstitutional and that supporters of Proposition 8, the hotly contested voter initiative in California that banned same-sex marriage, had no standing. People were mad. However, it wasn’t just the typical kind of mad that is associated with hatred, it was a type of mad that was met with impossible anguish because what I was reading and feeling was a result of one thing: there was nothing more they could do.
What does all this mean? Questions from friends and family were filling up my inbox and although I wanted to take a moment to just hit “Reply All,” and input the words: Equality, I had to hold back and start to examine the notion that although equality may now be firmly on the proverbial table, there is still a lot of work to be done, specifically for gay marriage and those wanting to marrying inside the traditional church spaces they grew up in and not just the ones that have come out as open and affirming in recent years towards LGBT individuals. Continue reading “To Have and to Hold: Gay Marriage and the Religion Question”
oes God exist within the LGBTQ community anymore or has the community itself abandoned God for all-night raves, dance clubs, alcohol, and hypersexualized and over commoditized fetishized forms of femininity and masculinity? Oftentimes, I find myself answering yes to the above questions. After surviving hate crime after hate crime and endless batches of newly elected conservative politicians hell bent on ignoring medical and social epidemic plaguing the very country they were elected to serve and protect, why would a community, oftentimes linked to sin itself, believe in a holy entity?
My good friend and fellow Feminism and Religion Contributor Marie Cartier’s forthcoming book, Baby You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall argues that American butch-femme bar culture of the mid-20th Century should be interpreted as a sacred space. Specifically, gay bars served as both communal and spiritual gathering spaces where butch-femme women were able to discover and explore not only their sexuality but also their spirituality. An opus of an academic accomplishment based off of the amount of in-depth interviews she conducted, Professor Cartier explores lived religion in an area that has become all too common within the LGBTQ community: the bar
Love the sinner, hate the sin. We are all familiar with the bludgeon this statement represents in Christian circles. It functions as a way to maintain one’s goodness and Christlikeness (supposedly!), while simultaneously condemning and persecuting those who find themselves drawn to live lives outside the constraints of heteronormativity in all its variations. The statement hardly needs to be deconstructed – it proves its own emptiness in relation to the way sexuality is understood as identity in the contemporary context. (There are Foucaultian reasons to be unhappy with this understanding of sexuality – one of the disciplinary functions of power on his account is the desire to find a name that will express one’s true identity – but we’ll save that for another day.)
Instead, I think we should consider a much more fundamental contradiction in the way Christian churches today speak and think about sexuality. In many mainline congregations in the US-European context, the debate has been framed around celibacy versus “practice” for persons identifying as gay and lesbian. Excluding the fringe ex-gay movement and its horrors, there are three typical positions that churches take up. One, celibate gays and lesbians may participate fully in church life. Two, married and monogamous gays and lesbians may participate fully in church life. Three, neither marriage nor monogamy are required for gays and lesbians (or anyone else) – the latter is perhaps not a frequent position for churches to take, at least officially, other than in the MCC. For most mainline denominations, the fault line lies between those who assert the ‘vocation’ of celibacy for gay and lesbian persons, and those who permit marriage. Continue reading “Lust in the Heart by Linn Marie Tonstad”
It is our moral responsibility, whether we identify as Christians or not, to pray for not prey on the victims of tragedies.
Over the last month, dare I say years, society has witnessed or been subjected to an all out war from radical Christians across America deploying the wrath of God and reveling in the tragedy of others to perpetuate their apocalyptic message of rhetoric and terror. As I hear the news over the last few months, an old Billy Joel song starts to play in my head “We didn’t start the fire.” Whether we started the fire or not, we should not feed the flames of hatred but figure out a way to extinguish it.
Here is a brief synopsis of current events that reflect this hatred and radicalism perpetuated in the name of God – examples of Christianity terrorizing or preying on victims through their actions.
The Westboro Southern Baptist Church: Preying on Victims at Funerals and Thanking God for their Tragic Deaths
Their web address says it all: www.godhatesfags.com. This group, which one cannot call Christian but rather “hate-mongers,” threatened to burn the Qur’an, was banned from Facebook for spreading hatred against homosexuals, and recently had the audacity to picket funerals of Americans killed in natural disasters, most recently, a teen-age shooting victim, Daniel Parmertor (age 16), from Chardon, Ohio. Thankfully, volunteers across Ohio and a local group of bikers formed a human barricade to keep these people away from the funeral and grieving family and community.
One might not easily associate all four of those words in the same category, but Dr. Marie Cartier, a Professor at California State University Northridge, has crossed numerous boundaries in her search for the sacred in the pre-Stonewall Butch-Femme/Gay Women’s bar culture in twentieth century America.
A radical queer pioneer in the fields of both Women’s and Queer Studies in Religion, Marie has become a hero of mine during my time at Claremont Graduate University and in my personal journey as a male queer scholar in these fields.
For some time, a prominent strand of gay and feminist theory and theology has taken it almost as axiomatic that gay men, lesbians, and straight women have a common stake in dismantling patriarchy. While I have always understood my own work as a gay theologian in terms of that common struggle, recent developments point to a significant challenge to keeping that bond intact in the larger sphere of political activism.
At the end of last year, National Public Radiodeemed 2011 an extraordinary year for gay rights. Buzzfeed listed 40 reasons why it was the best year for gays ever, beginning with a Gallup poll showing that for the first time a majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage. The list also included the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and several firsts for openly gay elected officials. Even the world of professional sports is becoming more accepting: in a recent tweet, Ravens’ linebackerBrendon Ayanbadejo equated support for same-sex marriage with playing in a Super Bowl when asked about his life’s greatest accomplishments.