After asking Jerry Maneker and Chuck Tackett to comment on the issue of self-destructive shame, I also asked them to help me devise a series of provocative questions for Gay people. These twenty questions are designed to detect the internalized shame that exists within us all. I've provided my own answers to them, and I warn you, some of my answers will not be to your liking! I never want to push people's buttons just for the Hell of doing it, but that's hardly what I'm up to here. I consider this exercise a long-overdue shock treatment aimed at identifying the ways we encourage our own oppression.
1. What have you done to move Civil Rights for LGBT people forward?
Of course, this is a valid question for Straight allies, too. What have you done? What are you doing? Some people contribute to Gay Rights advocacy organizations like HRC(Human Rights Campaign) and GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Some think making such contributions ought to be a mandatory act for us all. I don't! There are legitimate questions about the priorities and effectiveness of some of these groups; nobody should feel obligated to send hard-earned dollars to organizations whose practices are questionable.
However, it costs you nothing to send an email to a newspaper editorial board, type out a complaint to a TV show producer, telephone a radio talk show, publish an opinion piece on your blog, or otherwise raise your voice in objection to anti-Gay hate speech. True, if you call a bigot on the carpet about his bigotry, more often than not he will be unrepentant. You still need to do it. The hatemonger needs to know that he can't ply his disgraceful trade with impunity! What's more, your act of challenging him publicly (and it should be done publicly, whenever possible) can sometimes make the bigot's followers think twice about how they behave toward LGBT folk.
2. Do you remain silent when anyone makes fun of, or in any way demeans LGBT people?
Depending on the situation, it can be hazardous to one's livelihood and/or physical health to denounce hate speech in a group of people. I realize that. Even so, we must refuse to tolerate it, and make our feelings clear! If more people had objected to slurs and vilification in the past, doing so wouldn't be considered dangerous now. We must do whatever we can to create safe spaces for future LGBT generations.
3. Do you go to a church or house of worship that's hostile to LGBT faithful?
I've dealt with this question before in a CTGM feature titled "Loved In The Worst Way." If someone loves you, they won't lie to you! Clergy who preach heterosexual supremacy are liars! Never forget that Jesus Christ affirmed the existence of people of LGBT orientation(Matthew 19: 3-12). If the Messiah affirmed us, His messengers must affirm us as well.
I don't care if your family has attended a certain church for umpteen generations. I don't care how much you enjoy the fellowship. I don't care if the church performs a lot of good deeds in the community. Do not sit and suffer in silence when Satan twists Scripture and spews his heterosexist bile from the pulpit! If you have enough courage, rise from your seat and denounce the lies! At the very least, get up off your ass and walk out of there!
Find a church to attend that isn't toxic to your psyche, even if you end up holding prayer meetings in your own home. If you can't leave the church right away, work on getting yourself mentally to the point where you can leave. Until then, keep your money out of that damn tithe plate! If you fund or otherwise let a hateful status quo thrive in your church home, you do nothing but perpetuate the teaching of a false Gospel. This is not pleasing to God.
4. Are you in favor of same-gender marriage?
I'm not talking about whether you would enter into such a marriage yourself. For various personal reasons, many of us wouldn't, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm asking you if you're in favor of Lesbians and Gay men having the option to be legally wed, as heterosexual people do. If you aren't, then regardless of the reason you give for your opposition, you are a hetero-fascist, plain and simple! You need to do some serious soul-searching, because you're essentially no different from the James Dobsons of the world.
5. If you had a choice, would you remain Gay or Pansexual, or would you choose to be Straight?
This question cuts to the very heart of internalized self-hatred. I've asked it of myself, and believe it or not, I wouldn't want to become heterosexual. Being born with an effeminate nature shielded me from the self-destructive machismo most of the heterosexual boys in my neighborhood fell victim to. I knew I was different from them, so I never felt compelled to do what they did. I'm not dead, I'm not in prison, I'm not struggling to pay child support, and I have my Gay identity (along with my Christian upbringing) to thank for that.
Besides, who would I be if I weren't Gay? Honestly, I can't even imagine it! I know I'd lose much more than a sexual orientation. I'd lose my unique gender perspective. I'd lose my creativity. I'd lose out on a myriad of insights and blessings being Gay has brought me. It's all connected; I'm not so naïve as to believe my sexual nature could be isolated and altered without wreaking havoc on the rest of my being. I agree with Jerry Maneker about this: It's sinful to hate what God has made, and arrogant to second-guess His judgment!
There's now alarming talk among religious Right Wingers about possible medical treatments to "correct" homosexuality. If such "correction" ever becomes a reality, we'd do well to remember the story of the Tower of Babel. It describes how God imposed diversity on humankind. Whether or not that story is literally true, we must accept that our Lord created the world's diverse nature exactly as He wanted it to be. We tamper with it at our own peril! Haven't bogus "ex-Gay" ministries (which encourage Gay people to masquerade as Straight) done enough damage?
"Why Do You Like It So Rough?" continues with Part Three.