27 June 2007

The Bible Tells Me So (Part One)

Jesus Christ

Freedom! Freedom from ignorance about the Bible! That's the birthday present I gave myself last week. I finally finished reading my copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible in its entirety; it took me the better part of a year to do! I could’ve finished sooner, but I didn’t want to rush the process. I gave myself plenty of time to absorb those 66+ books!

I'd actually read the whole Bible once before, as a pre-teenager. However, I was reading the infamous King James Version, and as you might expect, I understood precious little of Ye Olde English text! This time, with a modern translation in hand, I achieved much better results. It's amazing, how much I missed the first time!

The context of everything is so much clearer! The uncertainty of translation is apparent; and the fact that human beings wrote these collected texts is inescapable. Believe it or not, there's bad writing in the Bible! Factual errors, repetitiveness, sentence fragments, confusing attributions. There's also obvious ideological slanting, and indulgence in speculation where human understanding reaches its limits.

The direct word of God? Hardly! The Bible is man’s sometimes flawed, sometimes inspired interpretation of His word. For me, this book has been completely demystified! I know some Christians would hate for that to happen to them, but I don’t need mystery in my doctrinal texts. God is mysterious enough! Besides, as a Gay man, I know only too well that there's nothing to be gained from poor comprehension of Scripture.

Re-reading the Bible has been a goal of mine since shortly after I launched this blog. I wanted to write with authority about Christian doctrine, of course; but I also wanted to prove how valuable knowledge of the Bible is to Gay activism. It's a shield we can use to defend ourselves against religious Right Wing attacks, just as effectively as they use it as a weapon against us!

Actually, we can use the Bible to greater effect, because unlike our enemies, we don't have to lie about what it says! Scriptural truth is more than sufficient to advance a Gay-affirming theology. To illustrate what I mean, let me share several conclusions I've come to about the Bible. A few of them may surprise you:

The Old Testament Is Spicy!
So spicy, in fact, that much of it isn't fit for children to read! The Old Testament is a blood-soaked document filled with calamity, carnage, murder, rape, and fornication! Beginning with Adam and Eve's banishment from Eden, it documents man's estrangement from God and the turmoil we've suffered ever since.

Highlights include the murder of Abel by Cain; Noah laying naked and drunk in his tent; attempted gang rape at Sodom; Lot committing incest with his daughters; the denuding of Joseph, the Hebrew slave, by his master's adulterous wife; ghastly plagues visited upon the Egyptian populace; gang rape at Gibeah; the act of murder/suicide that killed Samson and his tormentors; David's beheading of Goliath; David engineering the death of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah; the gruesome accidental hanging of David's son Absalom; King Solomon's erotic poetry; the prophet Elisha's sexually suggestive resurrection ritual; the killing of Jezebel and subsequent mutilation of her body; the death penalty, meted out repeatedly for temple defilement and violations of Levitican law; male and female prostitution; severed heads being hoisted on poles; prophesies involving talk of dung-eating and sexual humiliation; war atrocities and animal sacrifices galore . . . and that's not even the half of it!

The New Testament, of course, features the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the stoning of Stephen, and the beheading of John The Baptist; but compared to the sky-high gore factor of the Hebrew Bible, it's tame! In my opinion, this excessively lurid tone reflects a very human fascination with sensationalism.

The Old Testament Is Boring!
Despite all the sex and violence it contains, the Old Testament is more often than not a tedious document! It's full-to-overflowing with temple measurements, descriptions of religious vestments and objects, ceremonial instructions, army roll calls and genealogical lists. Every few pages, you run into one of these litanies!

I often hear people claim that inspiration can be found on every single page of the Bible. If they believe that, then they surely never read the tribal genealogies from 1 Chronicles! These lengthy passages will put you to sleep faster than the most boring college lecture you ever heard!

Fundamentalism Is Based On 

Old-Testament Doctrine.
The Fundamentalist sect that dominates modern Christianity is clearly Old Testament-based! The Pat Robertsons of the world prefer Levitican damnation to Gospel salvation. Rather than guide lambs to God through the Divine example of Jesus Christ, they prefer to frighten them into submission with the Prophets' apocalyptic predictions! This begs the question: Are they true Christians? My answer is a firm, unequivocal no!

They can't affirm Hebrew law and still claim belief in the Messiah! The only law Christians follow is the Christ's Law; there's no such thing as an Old Testament Christian! Bible beaters blend Hebrew and Christian tenets at will, creating a hybrid religion that's neither fish nor fowl. This hybrid has been taught as Christianity for so long, it's now widely accepted as legitimate. Therein lies the poison pill that has estranged Gay people and many others from a faith that rightly belongs to them!

The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah 

Has Been Misinterpreted!
Tragically, most people, even most Gay Christians, don't realize this fact. Over centuries, the forged link between homosexuality and the practice of "sodomy" has become so strong, few question it. However, I believe that link can be broken! All that's necessary is to present the story in its proper context.

JUDGES 19: 22, 23
. . . the men of the city, a perverse lot, surrounded the house and started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house: "Bring out the man who came into your house, so that we may have intercourse with him." And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them: "No, my brothers! Do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing! Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do whatever you want to them . . ."

Does this passage sound familiar? It’s not what you think! These verses aren’t talking about Sodom and Gomorrah. They describe an incident that took place in Gibeah, a city north of Jerusalem. There's little difference between the two narratives, except that the Gibean seige culminated in actual rape and murder:

JUDGES 19: 25, 26
But the men would not listen to him; so the man seized his concubine and put her out to them. They wantonly raped her and abused her all through the night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go . . . the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light.

The woman subsequently died. After word of her murder spread through Israel, God empowered an army to sack the city and kill its occupants. The male populations of both Sodom and Gibeah were in the habit of subjecting outsiders to sexual humiliation. (Both populations placed the same low value on female life, too!) Both cities were destroyed for this reason. What does homosexuality have to do with it? Nothing at all!

These stories are straightforward condemnations of rape. They also warn against brutalizing those who are perceived as aliens. By no stretch of the imagination do they condemn homosexual status! Elsewhere in the Bible, eunuchs (the ancient equivalent of Gay men) are promised a special place in Heaven. How could God simultaneously bless and curse them?

The sexual orientation of gang rapists is irrelevant; theirs is a crime of violence, not sexuality. However, to think that every man in any given town could be homosexual is totally preposterous, and to stigmatize every Gay man as a "Sodomite" is patently dishonest! Ironically, it shows the same hostility to unfamiliar people that the real Sodomites displayed.

Eunuchs Are Blessed By God!

There can be no doubt about this! Both the Old and New Testament affirm the blessed status of eunuchs, as well as Gnostic texts and Apocryphal scripture. If you’ve never heard of Apocryphal scripture before, don’t feel embarrassed. I hadn't either, until fairly recently! It's made up of non-canonical writings that are specific to different denominations of Judaism and Christianity; there are Jewish Apocrypha, Roman Catholic Apocrypha, Eastern Orthodox Apocrypha, etcetera. The books I studied came from the Catholic Bible.

Verses from the Apocryphal book of Sirach (which dates to about 200 years before Jesus Christ's birth) confirm that, contrary to popular belief, all eunuchs weren't castrated men; many were physically capable of having sex with women! More important, these verses confirm that eunuchs had an inherent revulsion for heterosexual contact. The author makes these points via the use of similies; somewhat awkwardly, he likens having Gay identity to having a sinful nature:

Like a eunuch lusting to violate a girl is the person who does right under compulsion.

By definition, a eunuch has no erotic feelings toward women.

SIRACH 30:18-20
Good things poured out upon a mouth that is closed are like offerings of food placed upon a grave . . . so is the one punished by the Lord; he sees with his eyes and groans as a eunuch groans when embracing a girl.

Forced to take wives under Hebrew law, eunuchs were widely known for their lack of sexual interest in women!

Eunuchs are first exalted in the 56th chapter of Isaiah. Jesus Christ reaffirms this teaching in the 19th chapter of Matthew, which I've previously discussed at length. In addition, there’s this Apocryphal passage that exalts both Gay men and Lesbians:

. . . for blessed is the barren woman who is undefiled, who has not entered into a sinful union; she will have fruit when God examines souls. Blessed also is the eunuch whose hands have done no lawless deed, and who has not devised wicked things against the Lord; for special favor will be shown him for his faithfulness, and a place of great delight in the temple of the Lord.

A woman both undefiled and barren is a virgin. "Virgin" is the word used to refer to Lesbians in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip. Use of the word "fruit" is also important here. In the book of Exodus (23:19), God commands His people: The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God. Then, in the 14th chapter of Revelations (14:4), we're told this about the eunuchs who serve Jesus Christ in Heaven: They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb . . .

What does this mean? It means that Gay people are offerings to God from the wombs of women! God sees us as first fruits of humankind because our souls mirror the soul of the first human being He created. Before Eve came to be, Adam was the same as we are: Male and female blended together in one soul! The correct Hebrew translation of Genesis 1:27 confirms this fact: And God created Adam in His own image, in the image of God He created Him, male and female He created Him.

"The Bible Tells Me So" continues with Part Two.

The Bible Tells Me So (Part Two)

Jesus Christ

Judith Of Bethulia Is A Lesbian Icon!
The Apocryphal book of Judith is the story of a powerful woman of unshakable faith who, for most of her life, eschewed contact with men. It’s very Lesbian-affirming! The narrative tells how Judith used her wiles to singlehandedly save the town of Bethulia from Assyrian conquest. Subsequently, she was celebrated as a heroine, a lioness of Judah, if you will:

JUDITH 15:12, 13
All the women of Israel gathered to see her and blessed her, and some of them performed a dance in her honor. She took ivy-wreathed wands in her hands and distributed them to the women who were with her, and she and those who were with her crowned themselves with olive wreaths. She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and singing hymns . . .

JUDITH 16:21, 22
Judith went to Bethulia, and remained on her estate. For the rest of her life, she was honored throughout the whole country. Many desired to marry her, but she gave herself to no man . . .

A Hell of a lady, Judith of Bethulia, and what a great Bible story! Director D.W. Griffith actually filmed it during the silent movie era (1914). No doubt, the part where she beheads the captain of the Assyrian army wasn't anywhere near as graphic on film as it is in Scripture!

If You Commit Idolatry, You're Toast!
Reading the Bible makes it clear that worshiping other gods will get you in heap big trouble! The entire set of Prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi) is pretty much devoted to railing against idol worship and condemning those who practice it. Idolatry is by far the sin most offensive to God. The very first Commandment states:

EXODUS 20:4,5
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in Heaven above or that is on the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me . . .

Did He ever! The Old Testament describes how generations of Hebrews were punished for the sin of idolatry: Impoverished, made war against, subjected to plagues, and cast into bondage over and over. The torture of the priest Eleazar and seven brothers, an exceedingly grim narrative found in both 2 and 4 Maccabees, shows to what horrible lengths some Israelites would go to avoid idol worship. They knew that nothing would send them to Hell faster!

I've never understood how Fundamentalists can so brazenly ignore God's prohibition against deifying things of earthly origin. Clearly, that prohibition includes the Bible, a man-made document that didn't exist when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. Yet they dare describe themselves as “Bible-believers”, and urge others to do the same! For sure, Satan must be stocking up on barbecue spices; dude’s gonna have an overflow of guests falling up in his basement bachelor pad!

Levitican Law Was Imposed As Punishment.
Levitican Law (known in religious circles as the Holiness Code) was imposed on the ancient Hebrews as a direct result of their idolatry! The triggering incident was a brazen act of idol worship performed in Moses's absence:

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him: "Come, make gods for us . . . as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." Aaron said to them: "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me" . . . he took the gold from them, formed it in a mold and cast an image of a calf, and they said: "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt" . . . they rose early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices . . . the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

God was ready to nuke the Hebrews for this offense, until Moses pleaded on their behalf! So God stayed his wrath, but warned Moses: When the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin (Exodus 32:34). Moses begged the Lord for a means by which the Hebrews might atone for their idolatry. Imposition of the Holiness Code formed the basis of that atonement.

Centuries later, the Apostle Paul affirmed this fact when he wrote: Why, then, the Law? It was added because of transgressions . . . before Faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the Law, until Faith would be revealed. Therefore, the Law was our disciplinarian until Christ came . . . (Galatians 3:19, 23, 24). This passage from Galatians also affirms my next conclusion:

Levitican Law Has Never Applied To Christians!
After Jesus Christ invalidated Holiness Code dietary laws in his teachings, there was confusion about which laws Hebrews should still follow. A wealthy man ventured to ask the Savior for clarification, and He answered by specifically listing which prohibitions applied to Christians. The list appears in Matthew 19, the 18th chapter of Luke, and in Mark 10:19: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and your mother.

The list varies slightly between the Gospels, but anyone familiar with the Old Testament book of Exodus can see it’s a reiteration of God's Ten Commandments! The Commandments predate the Holiness Code, and they contain absolutely no restrictions on male intimacy. These lists, along with the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians (discussed at length in my essay "Why The Children Are Free", Parts One and Two) confirm that the Savior's sacrifice on the Cross freed all Christians from Holiness Code tyranny! Paul said it as clearly as it can be said: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law . . . (Galatians 3:13).

Leviticus 18 Has Been Misinterpreted!
Levitican law never instructed that "males shall not lie with males"! Conservative firebrands have long claimed this is so, but they're lying! The verse actually says: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman (Leviticus 18:22). A related verse, Leviticus 20:13, is phrased in the same way: If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.

If the intent was to forbid all homosexual contact, the wording would be different. These directives only forbad those who slept with women from also sleeping with men. Essentially, it banned bisexual practices; that’s always been my interpretation!  I think of it as a kind of kosher rule. 

Orthodox Jews should take note: If you were a eunuch who never slept with women (and remember, Old Testament Scripture both affirms and blesses the existence of eunuchs), then how could you violate this prohibition? How could you ever be with a male "as with a woman"? It's impossible! A heterosexist worldview fuels the belief that male-with-female sexual intercourse is God's plan for everyone. Fortunately, being a Transgender entity (again, see Genesis 1: 27), God has never suffered from a heterosexist worldview!

“The Bible Tells Me So” continues with Part Three.

The Bible Tells Me So (Part Three)

Jesus Christ

Loving Covenants Between 
Same-Gender Partners Are Possible!
God makes them possible! He unites the souls of same-gender lovers. The Biblical example is that of David and Jonathan:

1 SAMUEL 18:1-3
. . . the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul . . . then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.

This passage undermines every argument against same-gender marriage! There may be Scriptural justification for not calling same-gender unions "marriage", but there's absolutely no Scriptural prohibition against such unions.

The Gospels Have Been De-Emphasized!
Just as the prophet Isaiah quoted the Lord as having said:

ISAIAH 29:13
. . . these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, (but) their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote . . .

In the same way, Jesus Christ rebuked the Pharisees:

MARK 7:8, 9
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition . . . you have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!

These words resonate strongly with me whenever I think of today's religious ideologues. The inclusion of so many of the Apostle Paul's letters in the New Testament (thirteen in all) has led to Pauline doctrine overshadowing the Christ's original teachings. Four Gospels versus three times as many epistles! It's easy to see how this could happen.

As I’ve often stated before, Paul’s message sometimes deviated from that of Jesus Christ. He seemed to harbor strong prejudice against eunuchs and (Lesbian) virgins, and that led him to want to impose Holiness Code restrictions on them (see Romans 1:22-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9). Jude, the brother of Jesus Christ harbored the same bias, judging by his contention from Jude 1:7: Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities . . . indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust . . .

Many Bible scholars dispute the authorship of Jude, as well as that of six of the epistles attributed to Paul. All the same, these documents form the basis of Pauline doctrine, and their influence on mainstream Christianity has been enormous!

I believe ideologues from the early Christian Church conspired to give Paul’s more reactionary teachings greater emphasis. Furthermore, I believe they "edited" some of Paul's letters to make them even more ideologically conservative! Support for my belief can be found in Bart Ehrman's excellent book Misquoting Jesus (Harper, 2005). Whether my theories are credible or not, there's definitely an imbalance in the doctrine that must be corrected! What greater sin could a self-described Christian commit than to value the teachings of others over those of Jesus Christ?

Doesn't it say, in the 10th chapter of Matthew: A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master? And doesn't it say, in the 23rd chapter of Matthew: You have but one instructor, The Messiah? And didn't Paul himself ask, in 1 Corinthians 1:13: Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in Paul's name? This predominance of Pauline doctrine proves to me more than anything else that most people worship the Bible instead of worshiping God!

Hebrew Law Is Different From Christian Law!
No New Testament passage draws this distinction more clearly than the one I'm about to quote from. It comes from the book of Acts, and describes a dream that Simon Peter had:

ACTS 10: 9-16:
About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the Heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying: "Get up, Peter! Kill and eat." But Peter said: "By no means, Lord! For I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean." The voice said to him again, a second time: "What God has made clean, you must not call profane!" This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to Heaven.

Later in the narrative, Simon Peter interprets his dream this way: God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean (Acts 10:28). I can't imagine a more thorough repudiation of the Holiness Code, with all its dietary and behavioral restrictions! This is arguably the passage that Fundamentalists overlook most often.

The 19th Chapter Of Matthew Rocks!

MATTHEW 19: 11,12
(Jesus Christ said)"Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have made themselves eunuchs because of the kingdom of Heaven. Those who can accept this (teaching) should accept it."

For Gay Christian men, Matthew 19 is the most important section of the Gospels. It's arguably the most important section of the Bible, period! Even Paul's letter to the Galatians and the David and Jonathan narrative pale in comparison to it.

The 19th chapter of Matthew validates the existence of men who avoid sexual relations with women (thus undermining the raison d'etre of the "ex-Gay" movement); it validates homosexual orientation (because in ancient times, the word "eunuch" had distinctly homosexual connotations); it establishes that homosexuality is inborn; it does not impose celibacy on eunuchs; and, most significantly, it connects eunuchs to the kingdom of Heaven! It blasts to smithereens the scurrilous notion that God criminalizes male intimacy! Even if that were once true (there'll always be theologians who interpret Leviticus 18 differently than I do), there can be no question that our Savior de-criminalized it!

Jesus Christ Is The Source Of Salvation
 . . . Not Scripture!
The orthodoxy of the day decried the Savior's teachings against the Holiness Code. They accused Him of blasphemy! He stood His ground and rebuked them soundly for placing Scripture above the true, living word of God:

JOHN 5:39-44
(Jesus Christ said) "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have Eternal Life, and it is they that testify on My behalf. Yet you refuse to come to Me to have Life . . . you do not have the love of God in you! I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept Me . . . how can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the One who alone is God?

There's no substitute for faith in Jesus Christ! The Bible can’t serve as a proxy God; to use it that way is to practice idolatry! All of us who were raised in the Christian Church know this verse, but it's worth repeating here:

JOHN 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life . . . those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Eunuchs And Virgins Don't Produce Babies.
At least, not according to Scripture! Evidence of this restriction appears in the prophetical book of Isaiah:

(The prophet said)"Sing, O barren one who did not bear! Burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! 'For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married', says the Lord."

(The prophet said)"Neither let the eunuch say, 'behold, I am a dry tree', for the Lord says: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my Covenant, I will give, in My house and within My walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.'"

See also my previous citation from the Apocryphal book Wisdom of SolomonA lack of biological children would seem to be a prerequisite for identification as a blessed eunuch or virgin (though adopted children would surely have no effect on this special designation). These verses seem to raise questions about how appropriate it is for Lesbians and Gay men to sire offspring, via artificial insemination or otherwise; in recent years, this practice has become quite widespread among us.

Don't worry that I’m turning into a Scriptural terrorist, though! Believe me, that will never happen! I've always advocated for LGBT folk to exercise all the life options available to them. God forbid that I should ever tell my brothers and sisters: You must not call your relationships marriage! You must not sire biological children! I'd be no different from the Bible bigots if I indulged in that kind of arrogance!

Scripture may be our primary guide to God's will, but it's not always reliable. God, however, is always reliable, and He has other ways of guiding us. If the Lord's eunuchs and virgins don't conduct their lives in a manner He approves of, He will surely make His intent known to them (as I believe He did thirty years ago when self-destructive hedonism among Gay men became excessive)! The manner in which Gay parenting comes about is nobody's business but the Lord's; only He can pass judgment on it! I don't presume to know what God's judgment is on this matter, but I do know that most Lesbian and Gay parents consider their biological children gifts from Him. Who could disagree?

As I finished reading 4 Maccabees, the last book in my Bible's Old Testament, I couldn't shake this nagging feeling I had. I felt something was missing! Where were the teachings for people like me? I can only speak for myself, but it's not enough for Scripture to just validate my identity as a Gay man. I long for the same kind of relationship guidance that heterosexual folk find there! Given the importance of eunuchs and virgins to God's kingdom, there must have been specific teachings for them in ancient Scripture . . . there simply must have been!

The fact that I've yet to find such teachings suggests a campaign of systematic suppression by early Church theologians. If even a fragment of these texts still exists somewhere, I pray that I'll discover them in my lifetime! If that doesn't happen, I'll at least be thankful for the Biblical passages that speak of us, as well as for the fragments dealing with LGBT status I’ve discovered in Gnostic scripture (see my CTGM essay “We Are Family”, Parts One, Two and Three).

My extended Bible study gave me another strong feeling, too: That I had discovered the means by which to conquer false prophecy! I still feel that way. The practice of Bibliolatry would diminish significantly if more people started reading the entire Bible for themselves in good, modern translations. If they read the Bible without being told what to think about it, millions would begin to reject the distorted teachings of radical Right Wingers; I'm absolutely convinced of that! Ignorance is the fuel of religious Fundamentalism. Take away the fuel, and the fire will burn itself out!

LGBT Christians fully understand how harmful Scriptural ignorance can be. We have a vested interest in fighting it every chance we get! And I believe that's what God wants us to do.

ACTS 8:26-31, 35-39
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip: "Go south to the road, the desert road, that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip: "Go to that chariot, and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I", he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him . . . then Philip . . . told him the Good News about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said: "Look, here is water! Why shouldn't I be baptized?" And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

This passage reveals that God wants to destroy the ideological barriers that separate us from Him. He loves His eunuchs and virgins dearly, and He wants us to acknowledge Him as our Father! He wants to embrace us in Heaven! The Bible tells me so! I leave you with words of inspiration, taken from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha. Selah!

1 SAMUEL 16: 7
. . . the Lord does not see as mortals see. They look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

SIRACH 4: 20, 21
. . . do not be ashamed to be yourself, for there is a shame that leads to sin, and there is a shame that is glory and favor.

LUKE 6: 22, 23
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in Heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the Prophets.

20 June 2007

So Damn Tired (Part One)

MATTHEW 23: 13-15
(Jesus Christ said) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of Heaven; for you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of Hell as yourselves!

You think you've seen everything. You think you've heard everything! You think expressions of heterosexist hatred couldn't possibly get more extreme than they already are. Then you run into the kind of undiluted evil that knocks the breath right out of you!

Recently, on his Christian LGBT Rights blog, Rev. Jerry Maneker called attention to an editorial from the 16 June 2007 edition of The Jamaica Observer. Pam Spaulding also blogged about it at pamshouseblend.com. Written by John Hardy, a self-described Christian minister from Kingston, Jamaica, it's called "Don't Push From The Back! It's A Painful Act." The editorial purports to address concerns about Jamaican society that had been raised by Elder Nancy Wilson, leader of the Gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church.

This opinion piece is one of the most Satanic things I've ever read! It made me feel sick to the stomach! It portrays the Jamaican people as psychopaths. It portrays the British people as sadists. It provides a rationale for murdering Gay men! It does these things by means of doctored quotes, mangled Scripture and wild, unsubstantiated claims. It's a mendacious, hateful, racist, heterosexist and blasphemous document! That something so lurid would pass muster as an editorial speaks to a dearth of journalistic standards at the Observer! Here are excerpts:

In a recent comment, (Metropolitan Community Church's) Reverend Nancy Wilson said: "Over the years, a lot of attention has been focused on the male homosexual community in Jamaica, where intolerance . . . is very high. In recent weeks, a number of beatings of alleged homosexual men . . . have been reported in the media." Indeed, Jamaica can be considered a homophobic society, that is, a society that has a very low tolerance for homosexual activities.

Given what I've learned recently about Jamaica (see my previous posts "Blood On Their Hands" and "Island Of Lost Souls", Parts One and Two), the word "homophobic" doesn't accurately describe its social climate. "Genocidal" is a much better description!

But what has caused Jamaicans in general to have developed such an attitude . . . ? The psychologists and sociologists have agreed that if an individual or a group . . . have a consistency in a particular behavioral pattern, there must be . . . underlying causes.

Pull on your hip boots! You're about to wade into a very deep manure pit!

Canadian writer Mark Steyn, in an article in The (UK) Daily Telegraph of January 11, 2005 . . . has indicated how Jamaicans have developed such a passion against homosexual activities.

Actually, Mark Steyn indicated no such thing! In a calculated attempt to mislead readers, Hardy brazenly manipulates his words:

"After all, who made them homophobic?" he wrote, and he quoted one of the writers in The (UK) Guardian. "'The vilification of Jamaican homophobia,' says Decca Aitkenhead, ' is just an attempt to distract from the real culprit. It's a failure to recognize 400 years of Jamaican history, starting with the sodomy of male slaves by their White owners as a means of humiliation.'"

In the 5 January 2005 edition of The Guardian, British columnist Decca Aitkenhead defended anti-Gay sentiment in Jamaica. As you'd expect, her piece was very controversial, and it sparked many rebuttals. Mark Steyn's editorial was one of them! The following quote comes from him; its tone was meant to convey sarcasm. However, John Hardy presents it as a sober statement of fact:

"By enslaving them and taking them to our Caribbean plantations and sodomizing them every night, we left them with feelings of rejection and humiliation that laid the foundations (for) their homophobic architechture. The point to remember is, as the writer (Ms. Aitkenhead) put it, 'Their homophobia is our fault.'"

A little later, I'll quote extensively (and accurately) from Steyn's piece, and place this passage in its proper context. Right now, let's venture into the foulest-smelling part of John Hardy's manure pit! Hold your noses!

The Black slaves and most of their descendants developed this hatred for homosexual activities because of the painful experiences that their forefathers endured during slavery. It is alleged that if and when a White slave master suspected that Black male slaves were showing any sign of resistance to their enslavement, the most cruel and brutal treatment would be meted out to them.

Take note of the word "alleged". It's an important word to remember, given what you're about to read:

One such treatment would be sodomization!

Anal rape! How very compatible with the conservative Judeo-Christian values of the British colonists!

The White slave master could sodomize the Black males privately or publicly.

I presume tickets were sold to these public events?

Black slaves could be forced to sodomize each other in front of slave masters and other members of the plantation.

What could be more effective for subduing restless Negroes than having them witness sexual torture? Man, that tactic really must've kept those darkies in line!

Wooden objects known as ramrods would be used to sodomize the Black male slaves until at times blood and excreta would spurt out of their bodies as water gushes out of a broken fountain.

At which time, of course, they would die of blood loss and internal injuries! Witnessing such horrors surely made slaves eager to remain in bondage. No doubt, those naughty thoughts of escape never entered their minds again!

Mindful of his status as the pastor of Kingston's New Testament Church of God, John Hardy thoughtfully mixes a little Scripture in with the gore and excrement:

It is this painful and humiliating experience of 400 years . . . that gave rise to Jamaicans' homophobic attitude. The Jews exhibit a similar disposition to a painful experience of their ancestor Jacob. Genesis 32:25: When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Genesis 32:32: Therefore, to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon. After 4,000 years, the Jews still remember the painful experience of their ancestor. Therefore, they will not eat the tendon of the hip of any animal.

Is this the first time you've read a graphic description of anal torture followed by a discussion of kosher law? It's the first time for me! Taking the twisted analogy Hardy draws here to its logical conclusion, Jamaicans would be motivated to avoid anal penetration, just as kosher Jews avoid eating the meat of the tendon. I don't think genocidal acts committed against Gay men constitute this kind of avoidance, though!

"So Damn Tired" continues with Part Two.

19 June 2007

So Damn Tired (Part Two)

Those who find it strange that Jamaicans are so homophobic must interpret that attitude as a people saying: "Do not remind us of our painful and humiliating past!" A people saying: "Don't push from the back, because it is a painful act."

All right, let's climb out of this manure pit. I can't stand it anymore!

John Hardy didn't originate this colonial sodomy myth; like Decca Aitkenhead before him, he's just repeating it (and obviously adding his own grisly embellishments for effect). I'm sure this urban legend has been circulating in Jamaican society for a long time; it may have grown out of an actual abuse scandal dating back to slavery times.

Hardy's description is so detailed and compelling, you're tempted to believe the tale. There's just one problem: It's totally implausible! Were male slaves ever victimized sexually? Undoubtedly some were, and not just in the Caribbean. But . . . publicly? Nightly? As a disciplinary tool? For hundreds of years? And on such a large scale as he asserts? The notion is so far-fetched, you couldn't even sell it as a Hollywood movie script!

Let's take a closer look at Mark Steyn's editorial, and learn what he really thought about these allegations:

The "vilification of Jamaican homophobia", says Decca Aitkenhead, is just an attempt to distract from the real culprit: "It's a failure to recognize 400 years of Jamaican history, starting with the sodomy of male slaves by their White owners as a means of humiliation . . . slavery laid the foundations of homophobia . . . for us to vilify Jamaicans for an attitude of which we were the architects is shameful. Jamaicans weren't the architects of their ideas about homosexuality; we were."

I should have known. It's our fault: Yours, mine, the great White Queen's . . . if we hadn't enslaved these fellows and taken them to the West Indies to be our playthings under the Caribbean moon, they'd have stayed in Africa and grown up as relaxed live-and-let-live types like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who's accused Tony Blair of a plan to impose homosexuality throughout the Commonwealth; or Kenya's Daniel Arap Moi, who attacked the "Gay scourge" sweeping Africa; or Zambia's Frederick Chiluba, who has said Gays do not have "a right to be abnormal"; or Namibia's Sam Nujoma, who accused African homosexuals of being closet "Europeans", trying to destroy his country through the spread of "Gay-ism"; or Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, who proposed the arrest of all homosexuals, though he subsequently moderated his position and called for a return to the good old days when "these few individuals were either ignored or speared and killed by their parents".

But no doubt Decca Aitkenhead would respond that African homophobia is also the malign legacy of British colonialism. Who taught them to spear Gays, eh? By refusing to enslave them and take them to our Caribbean plantations and sodomize them every night, we left them with feelings of rejection and humiliation that laid the foundations of their homophobic architecture. The point to remember is, as the Guardian headline writer put it . . . "Their homophobia is our fault".

As for the notion that even the randiest plantation owner could sodomize so many male slaves that he could inculcate an ingrained homophobia enduring for centuries, that's a bit of a stretch even for advanced Western self-loathers.

Steyn borrows a quote from former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is of Jamaican descent:

"The British were mostly absentee landlords, and West Indians were mostly left on their own. After the British ended slavery, they told my ancestors that they were now British citizens with all the rights of any subject of the Crown. That was an exaggeration; still, the British did establish good schools and made attendance mandatory . . . West Indians had an opportunity to develop attitudes of independence, self-responsibility and self-worth."

Can absentee landlords be absentee sodomites? I'll leave that one for Guardian columnists.

Clearly, then, John Hardy misrepresented Steyn's words. He even changed some of them outright! He found one White journalist who shared his warped view of Jamaican history, but that wasn't enough; he wanted to find another one. Predictably, he couldn't, so he borrowed copy from a sarcastic White Conservative and subjected it to creative editing! Hardy's treachery destroys the illusion of journalistic integrity he hoped to project; but even if he hadn't altered quotes to support his sensational claims, they still wouldn't be credible!

How likely is it that the colonizers' well-documented aversion to homosexual conduct would reverse itself? How likely is it that such perverse methods of discipline would be adopted by a majority of slaveholders? How likely is it that they'd be adopted by even a significant minority? How could such an atmosphere of widespread depravity exist without it triggering constant slave revolts and insurrections? How could plantation wives have tolerated their husbands openly having carnal knowledge of male slaves? How could colonial churches have sanctioned such goings on? And how could such frequent and heinous public practices have been kept secret for centuries?

As they say in the colonies: What rubbish! It was the colonial powers, after all, which first imposed sodomy laws in the Americas; they're known to have executed many indigenous people for violating them (see my essay titled "The Pleasure Seekers"). Hardy would have us believe these Anglican Church stalwarts blithely looked the other way while forced anal penetration became a daily occurrence! He'd also have us believe nobody ever spoke of it off the island. News of rampant male slave rape would've leaked out of the West Indies sooner rather than later and spread like wildfire! Abolitionists of the day would've seized on such information, and with such explosive ammunition in their arsenal, I daresay the British slave trade would've ended much sooner than it did!

Unfortunately, a lot of African-Americans will swallow these allegations hook, line and sinker; a friend of mine did just that when I told him about them. He's a very intelligent man, but he believes that White slaveholders were capable of anything. Most Black people do! We know that slavery produced atrocities, many more than could be documented. If female slaves were raped, and there's ample evidence of that, why couldn't male slaves have suffered similar victimization? It's a logical conclusion to reach; but once the premise has been accepted, it's all too easy to throw open a door to wild speculation! The concept of same-gender rape is so inflammatory, it readily lends itself to rumor and exaggeration; that's undoubtedly how the urban legend came into being in the first place.

I'm convinced that John Hardy directed his Jamaica Observer editorial at the Black diaspora! He addressed it to Elder Nancy Wilson, but that was just a ruse. He knew most White people wouldn't fall for his cock-and-bull story. That didn't concern him; he couldn't have cared less what they think. His goal was to pit heterosexual folk of African descent against (mostly) White Gay activists! In this way, a political wedge strategy fashioned by Right Wing religious leaders in the United States can become international in scope. I strongly suspect Focus On The Family involvement here!

"So Damn Tired" continues with Part Three.

18 June 2007

So Damn Tired (Part Three)

This is probably the best example you'll ever see of how hatemongers package prejudice to give it the air of legitimacy. Gay identity alone isn't shocking enough to explain Jamaica's hetero-fascist culture, so troglodytes like John Hardy have put a nastier spin on it! They've used the local sodomy myth to link homosexual acts with racism, slavery, defiled manhood and economic exploitation. In so doing, they've stirred up an explosive cocktail of race hatred, national resentment, religious intolerance, machismo and heterosexism! Ignorance is the catalyst that makes this mad scientist's potion blow up in the faces of LGBT islanders; and that's exactly what has happened. Fueled by ignorance, the threat of mob violence and murder hangs over them constantly! For Transsexual folk in particular, life in Jamaica is a daily fight for survival among predators!

Believing (or pretending to believe) an urban legend is one thing; using it to justify hate crimes is something else entirely! Sadism isn't synonymous with homosexual status, and Gay Jamaicans haven't engaged in sadistic practices. They haven't raped their Straight neighbors! They haven't forced their Straight neighbors to rape one another. They haven't menaced their Straight neighbors with "ramrods". They're the ones being menaced . . . with fists, feet, guns, knives and blunt objects!

Any public figure who tries to excuse genocide is a savage in civilized dress! Decca Aitkenhead is a savage! John Hardy is a savage! If his unrepentant attitude is typical of Jamaican clergy, then the moral appeal Elder Nancy Wilson has made to them is a lost cause. An economic and cultural boycott (such as I suggested in my essay "Island Of Lost Souls") would get her point across much more effectively! She'd do well to reflect on this teaching:

(Jesus Christ said) Do not give what is Holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them underfoot and turn and maul you.

Speaking of mauling, that's a very good description of what this swine of a Kingston preacher does to Christian doctrine!

The Christian community must . . . use their right of freedom of speech to be vocal about the wrongness of homosexuality . . .

Freedom of speech may allow for heterosexist expression, but the Son of God doesn't! Jesus Christ never taught the "wrongness of homosexuality"! Any clergyman who claims that He did is confusing Christianity with some other faith.

. . . but the church community should not join with the rest of the society and physically or verbally abuse homosexuals (sic).

Gay Jamaicans should thank "Reverend" John profusely for this display of compassion. How comforting to know that he and his church will merely stand by and observe while they're being brutalized! It reminds me of an unreformed Saul of Tarsus watching while Saint Stephen was stoned to death!

The church should exhibit love and compassion for homosexuals (sic), pray for their transformation, and help them find Jesus Christ as their true liberator.

How can members of a church help anybody find Jesus Christ when they haven't found Him themselves? Judging by his willingness to engage in false prophecy, John Hardy isn't even looking! I'm reminded of another teaching the Savior left us:

LUKE 6: 39
Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?

What would a religious bigot do without his "ex-Gay" talking points? Inevitably, he must spout those old reliable lines about "lifestyle" change and chosen sexual orientation! If he doubts those lines are persuasive enough, he can cite non-existent evidence of "conquered" homosexuality, and throw in some taken-out-of-context Bible verses for good measure:

Homosexual behavior can be conquered, as evidenced by the thousands of people who have completely given up the lifestyle (sic). If homosexual behavior were thought to be inborn, Scripture would not have said: Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another (Romans 1:26-27). The clear implication is that the homosexual acts were deliberate choices.

Most of us become aware of Gay identity during childhood, long before we begin having sex. Six and seven-year-olds, making "deliberate" sexual "choices"? Dude, I don't think so.

From a Jamaican cultural and historical perspective, even if the Bible did not make any pronouncement against homosexuality, the painful and humiliating experiences of sodomy by the White colonial slave masters would still give rise to Jamaicans saying: "Don't push from the back! It's a painful act."

I've never heard of any Caribbean Gay men getting beaten or murdered because they were caught having sex. They might've been engaged in work or leisure activities, walking down the street, or quietly going about their business at home. Just the acknowledgement of Gay identity, or more often, rumors of it, is what triggered brutality. Murderous Jamaican mobs don't see their victims having anal sex, and they can't know for sure what their sexual habits are. In the case of Lesbians (who've also been killed in Jamaica), the anal sex panic argument is even more ludicrous!

So there's no basis for this theory of trauma-induced, knee-jerk reactions to a specific sex act. The act is never witnessed! It's nothing but a cruel ploy, designed to blame LGBT folk for their own persecution; I call it the "look-what-you-make-me-do" argument. I'm a righteous person! You're the evil one! You do bad things in bed. I never see you do them, but just knowing about them drives me crazy. It's all your fault, faggot! You make me hate you. You make me hurt you! You make me take your life. Just imagine how effective that kind of rationalization will be on Judgment Day!

"So Damn Tired" continues with Part Four.

17 June 2007

So Damn Tired (Part Four)

John Hardy's evil hatemongering in The Jamaica Observer is just the latest example of a nagging problem: Bogus theologians getting free reign to demonize Lesbians and Gay men! Hardy joins a lengthening list of Black Bible bigots who proudly display their ugly sides in public. Among his fellow false prophets are "brothers" Eddie Long, Wellington Boone, Harry Jackson, Jr, Ken Hutcherson and TD Jakes, all of whom I've had past occasion to denounce. My sources tell me that Latino fundies are starting to jump on the Gay-basher's bandwagon, too. Please forgive my crude language, but . . .

I'm so damn tired of these stupid ~@#%ers!!!

I wake up every morning and wonder: Which social pariah will I be likened to today? A prostitute? A pedophile? A serial rapist? Will they blame me for slave trade horrors, military unit sabotage, or the 9/11 terrorist attacks? What new slander will they invent? Which rhetorical brush will they choose to tar me with next? I shudder to think about it! Right Wing clergy pollute our media under the guise of "freedom of religion." They spew the same kind of hate speech that sparked anti-Jewish pogroms in Germany seventy years ago. We know, of course, what those pogroms were a precursor to. Shouldn't we be doing something to protect ourselves?

Why don't we test the limits of their so-called religious freedom? Why don't we file an international class-action lawsuit against denominations whose leaders make a habit of vilifying us? Why don't we challenge their false articulations of Scripture in a court of law? What's stopping us? I, for one, have been "pushed from the back" by these jokers one time too many! I'd like nothing better than to haul off and lay a "painful act" on their sorry asses that they'll never forget!

Dr. Jerry Maneker is in the same frame of mind as me. Increasingly, he's been calling for legal action to curb religious bigotry. With his permission, I'm cross-posting here an essay he just wrote on this topic. Jerry's take-no-prisoners Gay advocacy is the antidote to John Hardy's racist and heterosexist savagery; he draws the parallels between Black and Gay oppression in bright rainbow colors!

Malcolm X said that you don't take your case to the criminal, but you take the criminal to court!

In my opinion, Malcolm X was assasinated in 1965 because he sought to bring the United States before the United Nations on charges of Human Rights violations in its treatment of Afro-Americans. By bringing the whole, ugly side of this racist society (to) the world spotlight, Malcolm X sought redress for the grinding and institutionalized oppression of Afro-Americans . . . and, at the same time, embarrass this country that prided itself on being "the land of the free and the home of the brave" . . . a shining city on a hill that represented democratic values, and vaunted its pride in being a free country where all people were equal before the law.

. . . although we are by no means done with the pathology of racism, LGBT people have now (replaced) Afro-Americans as the target group for the haters . . . who feel the need to vent their collective spleen on a group they view as safe to persecute. And they have all sorts of religious types to bolster, fuel, and justify their false sense of superiority. . . (their) rhetoric . . . rings out from assorted pulpits and media outlets throughout the United States and many other countries in the world. And, as I (have written) many times in the past . . . that hateful rhetoric, frequently couched in sanctimony, causes untold numbers of suicides, bashings, and murders of LGBT people.

Always follow the money . . . in America and elsewhere, hate is what helps bring in the money, and gets the mercenary juices flowing! One doesn't have to listen to too many fiery sermons and rantings by . . . clergy, evangelists, and talk show hosts . . . to realize the truth of this contention! And that hate fuels discriminatory behavior; oppresses LGBT people, consigning them to inferior, second-class status in society, (and) denies them full and equal civil and sacramental rights.

I would very much like to see the major LGBT rights organizations work in concert to bring their respective countries' religious and secular leaders . . . before the World Court, and have them indicted and tried (in absentia, if necessary) for Human Rights violations!

So would I, Jerry! That's what it'll take to stem this flood of genocidal speech. A prosecution such as you describe should've been pursued years ago. Bring it on! I'd be more than willing to sign on as a plaintiff. I'm ready to fall up in the World Court along with thousands of other LGBT hate victims from across the globe. I'm itching to get on the witness stand and sock it to the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and all the rest of these "faith-based" slanderers! I'll gladly go on record about the beatings, the threats, the public humiliations, the loss of income, the estrangement from family and the long years of alienation from my faith. The horror stories Gay people can tell would make South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commissions look like company picnics!

All you Human Rights attorneys out there . . . WTF are you waiting for? Git 'er done! When you start pulling your case together in earnest, buzz me here at the blog. Stuffed Animal wants to submit an affidavit!

Tell Reverend John Hardy what you think of his 
"compassion" for LGBT folk!
Email him at calltoserve@cwjamaica.com. Also, register your feelings with the editors of
The Jamaica Observer at editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

or feedback@jamaicaobserver.com

16 June 2007

What About The Word "Queer"? (Part Five)

Gay Family

This is turning out to be the longest series of essays I've ever done! I didn't intend to follow up on this topic so soon, but recent events made it necessary. Over at Pam's House Blend, a Straight ally solicited suggestions as to how Straight people could better aid the Gay Rights cause. Noting that she used the word "queer" to refer to Gay people, I advised her that she could really help the cause by not continuing to do that! This resulted in several people, both Gay and Straight, weighing in to defend her usage.

One submitted that the word "queer" is now acceptable because its use has become widespread in academic circles. I guess he didn't know that ignorance sometimes thrives in academia as easily as it does anywhere else! Another made the outrageous claim that every single person who lives in the San Francisco Bay area uses "queer" as a synonym for LGBT identity. Arrogance is its own trip wire! Yet another asserted that ignoring the hateful connotation of slurs makes them less powerful; like too many other Gay people nowadays, he suffered from the delusion that casual use destigmatizes hate speech!  I think he actually wanted me to start using it casually! I systematically refuted all of these scurrilous arguments. Dr. Jerry Maneker, my cohort in consciousness-raising, urged me to blog my responses, but I resisted.

Then, I opened the latest edition of CAMP, my local Gay newsweekly, and found inside an opinion piece titled "In Defense of Queer". It was the rebuttal to a previous piece written by Stephanie Bottoms. In Parts Three and Four of this series, I showcased Ms. Bottoms; a bright young college activist, she offered a thorough critique of LGBT people who adopt sexual slurs. One of CAMP's regular columnists, a Transperson named Jamie Tyroler, disagreed and wrote this new essay in protest. She chose to completely disregard Ms. Bottoms's main points! What's more, she trotted out several of the myths "queer" activists routinely spread about sexuality and gender. This was more than I could stand!

I prepared a rejoinder and submitted it to CAMP's editor as a possible guest editorial. However, after two consecutive weeks of "queer" controversy, the editor will probably decide that the topic has run its course. I'm tempted to let the matter go, but I just can't! Ms. Tyroler's reasoning is so filled with distortions, I feel that clarifications are necessary. If those clarifications don't appear anywhere else, at least they'll appear here at Christ, The Gay Martyr! What follows is most of what Jamie Tyroler wrote in response to Stephanie Bottoms (copyright restrictions prevent me from reprinting her entire essay), immediately followed by my full response to Ms. Tyroler.

In Defense of "Queer" . . . It's a Flexible Word

In the Pride issue of CAMP, Stephanie Bottoms wrote . . ."When LGBT Groups Embrace The Word 'Queer', That Hurts." I do understand and appreciate where she is coming from. "Queer" isn't one of my favorite words to use, either. Unfortunately, living in a world where gender identity and sexual orientation grow more fluid and our traditional beliefs no longer seem to adequately fit, the word "queer" has become the default umbrella term for the LGBT et. al. (sic) communities. Part of this "queer" community includes those who identify as two-spirited, as in several Native-American traditions, people who identify as neither male nor female, people who fluidly move their gender identity between male and female or who do not feel compelled to follow the gender binary . . .

Recently, I participated in a survey on race and gender . . . at the University of Michigan with the collaboration of the National Center of Transgender Equality in Washington, DC. Among the choices that I selected to describe myself were: Transgender, Lesbian, Gender Queer, MTF (male-to-female), and Queer. "Queer" seems to be one of the few all-inclusive words available, both for gender identity and sexual orientation . . .

When we limit our "community" to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, we are still not entirely inclusive of the diversity that we have. We still tend to look at gender identity in binary terms. We used to look at race in . . . black and white terms, although we know that there are multiple races and ethnicities and that quite a few people are multi-racial. The question becomes: How do we define ourselves when the existing language is no longer adequate? Do we start using terms that allow for more diversity, such as "pansexual", which is kind of a catch-all term for sexual orientation that allows for gender fluidity?

. . . would some Lesbians feel ill at ease by my identifying as a Lesbian because I wasn't born with the correct genitals? Are Lesbians who were once married to a man and bore children less of a Lesbian? Can Gay men be sexually attracted to women occasionally without losing the label of "Gay"?

The existential angst that many people go through at various points in their lives . . . is exacerbated for those of us who do not fit in one of the most basic categories: Male or female. It is very difficult to develop a self-identity when the words don't exist to help define yourself. For many people, the word "queer" becomes one of the only words that seem to work in self-identity. The use of the word is not to offend those who have better-defined identities. "Queer" has been a word of hate, as have many other words. The difference between "queer" and other words such as "d*ke", "f*ggot" or the N-word is that those people can claim several options, while those of us who do not nicely fit in with any of our more common categories need to find a way to identify ourselves. Perhaps other words are available, but not in common use. But right now, "queer" seems, for some people, the only word that allows the flexibility of having a fluid identity.

Alrighty, then! Hate speech is flexible! Gender and sexual attraction change just like chameleons do! God gives Transpeople incorrect genitalia! Gay male identity allows for sexual attraction to women! Lesbianism can be lessened! There are multiple races of human beings on Earth! When you lack a word to describe yourself, it's best to choose a sexual slur! I'll explore these not-so-amusing notions after the jump.

"What About The Word 'Queer'" continues with Part Six.