28 April 2007

Four Evil Kings

Legislation that would add crimes against Gays (sic) and Lesbians under Federal hate crime law has come under fire from a collection of African-American leaders and a group that claims to cure "unwanted same-sex attraction" through faith . . . Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr, Pastor Marvin Winans (a member of the Gospel-singing Winans family), Bishop Larry Brandon and Bishop Liston Paige, Jr, were joined (by Exodus International's Alan Chambers) at a Washington news conference on Tuesday to denounce adding Gays (sic) to the hate crime bill. The Black pastors said sexuality cannot be equated to race and Civil Rights. "We stand today with many in the African-American community who also recognize that one's sexuality can be changed, but one's skin color cannot," said (Mr. Chambers, President of) the largest of the so-called "ex-Gay" groups. "We call upon Congress to promote legislation that affirms authentic equality and protects our religious freedoms," he said, adding that the legislation "says that we, as former homosexuals (sic), are of less value and worth less legal protection now than when we were living as homosexuals" . . . the African-American and "ex-Gay" leaders also said they oppose Federal legislation barring discrimination based on sexuality in the workplace.

from the website 365Gay.com, dateline: Washington, DC, 24 April 2007

My friend, Dr. Jerry Maneker, calls this story "unimaginable, surreal and heartbreaking." I call it disgusting, depraved and outrageous! The Matthew Shephard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is named for the Wyoming college student whose identification as Gay was a factor in his 1998 beating death and mock crucifixion. This law would impose stiffer penalties on the perpetrators of such heinous acts. It would also send a strong message that the assault and murder of LGBT folk won't be tolerated at the Federal level. Who in their right mind could oppose such a law? Obviously, people whose demented obsession with sexuality has caused them to lose their minds! What a colossal sin these men commit by attempting to hide their insanity behind Christian doctrine!

Let's take a closer look at what the good Mr. Chambers and his "minister" friends were actually saying at their news conference. They were saying that:

1. Sexual behavior and sexual orientation are the same thing.

To be sure, they are not! There's a difference between what you do and what you are. An LGBT person may be sexually active or not. That's irrelevant to the issue of hate crimes! Very few victims of heterosexist violence were engaged in the act of having sex when they were attacked. Often, they suffered merely because they were perceived as Gay.

2. Homosexuality, or homosexual orientation, can be changed at will.

That sexual behavior can be changed is evident from the actions of people like Alan Chambers, who claim to be "ex-Gay", and people like myself, who observe celibacy for long periods of time. On the other hand, the notion that so-called sexual orientation can be changed is something that has never been proven, and it never will be!

3. The Bible supports the idea that homosexual orientation can be changed at will.

Those preachers should have been challenged on doctrine. How I wish I'd been at that news conference! I would've demanded that they show me where such support exists in Biblical texts. Sexual behavior is the only thing Old Covenant texts address; Nothing in any part of the Bible says sexual orientation can be changed! In fact, both Gnostic Christian scripture (specifically, the Gospel of Philip) and Bible scripture (the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew) exist which indicate the exact opposite: Such change is impossible, because sexual orientation is gender-based, and determined by God!

4. Homosexual behavior should be changed.

The four preachers no doubt used Bible verses to justify this contention; but as I explained in my previous essay, "Why The Children Are Free, Parts One and Two", there is no such justification in the Christian Bible! For Scripture that supports change of this kind, you have to go back to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). You have to cite the litany of Levitican law that both Jesus Christ (in the Gospels) and the Apostle Paul (in the Book of Galatians) preached against!  Levitican law doesn't apply to Christians! Its prohibitions against male same-gender intimacy only applied to the ancient Israelites, and furthermore, based on the wording of the law (You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female), I believe they never applied to those men Jesus Christ called "eunuchs from birth." A eunuch was the ancient equivalent of what we'd call a Gay man today. As I also explained in my previous essay, there is no condemnation of female same-gender intimacy to be found in the Bible!

5. The only people who deserve Civil Rights protection are those liable to face discrimination because of skin color.

This is one of the most idiotic ideas I've ever heard of! That it enjoys the currency that it does speaks to the failure of our educational system. This premise not only invalidates the Gay Rights struggle, but also the Women's Rights movement, the Disabled Rights movement, advocacy on behalf of children and the elderly, and any other equality movement not based on skin color. So Conservative Black preachers want to put racial limitations on Civil Rights? Neat trick, if they can pull it off . . . for the sake of our Constitution, both Gay and Straight Americans had better make sure that they can't!

6. If people could change their skin color at will, they should be required to do so instead of having legal protection from discrimination.

Yes, that's the gist of Alan Chambers' argument. How's that for activist jurisprudence? I daresay even Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia would choke on this screwball concept!

7. Religious beliefs can justify opposition to hate crimes protection for Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual folk.

Isn't religion supposed to teach love and charity? What kind of religion teaches that a designated person or group of people should be subjected to physical harm? Christianity does that? Jesus Christ died on the cross so that his followers would believe that? How dare someone even imply such a thing! As a Christian, one who has studied Scripture extensively, I find such an "interpretation" of the Gospel blasphemous and abominable!

8. Conservative religious folk should have the right to impose their beliefs on people who don't share them.

This idea is particularly rampant among Muslims and Christians, not only in the United States but in many other parts of the world. Self-described believers need to realize something: When they force their Scriptural interpretations down the throats of non-believers by way of ballot initiatives and other legal restrictions, it's not Christianity that they're practicing . . . it's fascism! What's more, it's the same kind of fascism that led to the torture and murder of our Savior, Jesus Christ!  At the urging of religious orthodoxy, Governor Pontius Pilate allowed the citizens of Jerusalem to decide whether the Christ or Barabbas the murderer would suffer the death penalty (Matthew 27: 15-26); now, if that wasn't the ancient equivalent of a ballot initiative, then I don't know what is!

9. Validating LesBiGay identity with legal precedent will cast doubt on the validity of "ex-Gay" identity.

In this case, I agree with Alan Chambers! What he says is absolutely true. This argument, in a nutshell, is really why he opposes legislative protections for LGBT citizens so vigorously! It's about promoting his crazed "ex-Gay" agenda at the expense of all Gay people. He needs for us to suffer and die so that his twisted concept of Biblical truth gets affirmed! For him, and monsters who think like him, hate crimes amount to a manifestation of Divine will, bloodstained proof that God wants us to "renounce homosexuality."  Revolting!

10. If you're a LesBiGay person who doesn't ascribe to anti-Gay religious beliefs, and you refuse to be "cured" of your homosexual orientation, you deserve whatever atrocity a psychopathic bigot wants to visit upon you. You deserve to lose your job, too!

There's nothing even remotely Christian about anyone who harbors this attitude! This is a sick, sick, Satanic belief system that poisons the heart and makes a mockery of Jesus Christ's Gospel of Grace. Show me a man who subscribes to it, and I'll show you a man who worships a different god than I do! My God doesn't approve of rape! My God doesn't approve of torture! My God doesn't sanction murder and mutilation! My God doesn't bar people from earning a living! Seems to me Pastor Winans and his disgraceful band of brothers have gotten God confused with Satan. How did that happen?

For the last five years or so, news conferences like theirs have been staged all over the country. Urged on by Pat Robertson and other leaders of the radical Right Wing, reactionary Black ministers are ignoring the myriad of problems plaguing their communities (among them, drug abuse, crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy and substandard education) in order to crusade against Gay Rights. This tragic development pits the beneficiaries of racial equality activism against another group sorely in need of equal recognition under the law. The two groups overlap, of course, but you wouldn't know it from the bizarre arguments some Black bigots have advanced to justify denying Gay people their Civil Rights!

Check out what comedian (???) DL Hughley said last year at HBO's Comedy Relief benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The quote comes from Jasmyne Cannick, specifically, her blogpost of 13 December 2006, and I warn you, it's raw:

As I snuggled into bed and turned on the television to HBO, what do I see? Comedian DL Hughley comparing the Black Civil Rights movement to the Gay Civil Rights movement and using the analogy that "taking d*ck and picking cotton" are two very different struggles.

The filthy language is bad enough, but what's really nasty is the mentality that led Hughley to think it was OK to spout such ignorance. It's the same mentality that led a delegation of religious hatemongers to stage that travesty of a press conference! Somehow, this sorry episode in our nation's Capitol reminds me of another, very different delegation that traveled to another seat of power several thousand years ago:

MATTHEW 2: 1-2, 9-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him" . . . the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, and of incense, and of myrrh; and having been warned in a dream not to go back to (Jerusalem), they returned to their country by another route.

The aforementioned press conference was a perverse and appalling re-enactment of this Holy event! Let me re-interpret it for you: A star of Justice rose up and shone brightly over the United States Congress. It was spied from afar by four evil kings, and by Mephistopheles, the vilest of demons from Hell! Disguised as ministers of the Christian Gospel, this unholy band traveled to the star's point of origin with the purpose of trying to extinguish it.

They dredged up foul hatred, shameless hypocrisy and reeking bigotry from the bottom of their corrupt hearts, and with all their collective might, they hurled it at the star. They rejoiced as its brilliant light began to falter, and as they carried out this obscene assault on Justice, they also committed blasphemy. They claimed to all within earshot that it was God's will that the star cease to shine! Then they laid hands on the Bible in a gesture of mock piety, and those pages which contained the sacred words of our Savior burned to ashes at their wicked touch.

Now, I don't have the power to send dreams to designated individuals. However, I do have the power to convey a warning through this blog! Here is that warning, which I send to the demonic Alan Chambers and to the four evil kings he traveled with: Do not return to your kingdoms bearing the same vicious malice you carried to Washington, DC! Do not return to your people and resume spreading false prophecy among them! Quit the practice of distorting the Gospel! Destroy those stumbling blocks you lay in the paths of innocent souls who trust you. Pray for God to cleanse your own souls of Satan's unholy influence! The Lord can give you the wisdom you need to put aside prejudice, and to live at peace with things you fear and misunderstand. His star is a star of Redemption, and its revealing light can yet shine on you.

However, you must stop doing the Devil's work! Open your heart, Bishop Jackson! Humble yourself, Pastor Winans! Seek for guidance, Bishop Brandon! Embrace God's truth, Bishop Paige! Repent of your sin, Mr. Chambers! Repent straightaway, all of you, or the Old Testament judgment you flirt with so brazenly will surely overtake you and strike you down!

22 April 2007

Why The Children Are Free (Part One)

One thing I try hard not to be when I editorialize is insensitive. Even though I regularly indict the complacency of Lesbian and Gay Christians, this blog is mandated to be a safe space for them. It occurs to me that I may have offended my Lesbian readership with my last essay, "Weapons Of Mass Affirmation, Parts One and Two."

In it, I refuted the widely-held belief among Christian Lesbians that the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi depicts a romance between women. I don't regret doing that, and I would do it again; distortion of Bible scripture is harmful to us, and we all know that to be true from personal experience! However, it certainly wasn't my intention to rob Lesbians of Scriptural affirmation. That's something I could never do, even if I wanted to.

Let me clarify what I'm saying here: I believe woman-loving women are affirmed by what does not appear in Scripture. There's no Lesbian equivalent for explicit passages denouncing man-loving men as abominations, such as you find in the book of Leviticus. Bible scripture suffers from a strong masculine gender bias, something I've pointed out elsewhere; but this is one instance where the bias works to women's advantage. There is no condemnation of Lesbian sexuality to be found in the Bible!

Wait a minute, some of you are saying. Aren't you forgetting about what the Apostle Paul said? No, I'm not forgetting. I know that, in order justify their wicked persecution of Lesbians, Fundamentalists often cite a passage in Paul's letter to the Romans. Here is that passage:

ROMANS 1: 21-27
. . . though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened . . . claiming to be wise, they became fools . . . for this reason, God gave them up to degrading passons. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also, the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men, and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Many Bible scholars don't believe that Paul was talking about female homosexuality here. There's a suggestion of that, they argue, but it's not clearly stated; Paul may have been talking about female masturbation, or some other deviance from traditional intercourse.

I don't share their doubt. There's no question in my mind about whether he was or wasn't referring to woman-loving women. He definitely was. The text makes it clear that Paul was a deeply heterosexist individual who could tolerate neither male nor female homosexuality.

But does his statement amount to a condemnation? How could it? Paul indicated (correctly, by the way) that God causes people to engage in these "shameful" acts. Was he being so arrogant as to condemn God's will? Or was he merely criticizing behavior against which he had a cultural bias . . . something he didn't fully understand? You decide!

Even if you believe Paul condemned sex between women, you'd do well to read what he wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 1, verse 13): Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Let me follow the logic of these questions and pose another one: Do you worship the apostles, or do you worship God?

Regardless of what you believe about Paul's letter to the Roman churches, you absolutely must read his letter to the Galatians! In it, he argues forcefully that Levitican law (the source of doctrinal prohibitions against homosexuality) doesn't apply to Christians. Here's an excerpt from that argument:

GALATIANS 2: 11-16
. . . when (the Apostle Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned. For until certain people came from (the Apostle James), he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction (of Jewish Christians). And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy . . . when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the Gospel, I said to (Peter) . . . "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

Paul is indicting the practice of hypocrisy, which the Gospel narrative shows was also a major concern for Jesus Christ! He goes on to clarify what makes a Christian truly Christian:

GALATIANS 2:15-21
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is reckoned as righteous not by the works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the Law, because no one will be justified by the works of the Law . . . I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing!

"Why The Children Are Free" continues with Part Two.

21 April 2007

Why The Children Are Free (Part Two)

This is arguably the most powerful Bible passage of all in terms of validating LGBT life and experience. By our very nature, we appear to violate Levitican law. We are vilified, ostracized and murdered for that reason. All over the world, self-described "Bible-believing" preachers warn us that we will suffer Eternal Damnation unless we "repent" of our sexual "sin" and observe Levitican law.

Yet here, Paul states uncategorically that Christians must not observe Levitican law! He reminds us that Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross invalidated those prohibitions forever. I disagree with many of the Apostle Paul's teachings, but this one couldn't be more on the money. Didn't the Christ also teach that Levitican law isn't applicable to Christians? In the 19th chapter of Matthew, the Savior listed exactly which laws Christians must follow:

MATTHEW 19: 18, 19

You shall not murder!

You shall not commit adultery!

You shall not steal!

You shall not bear false witness!

Honor your father and mother!

Love your neighbor as yourself!

The Messiah also indicated that Christians should give to the poor. This list is basically an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments. First appearing in the book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments preceded Levitican law, and they contain no prohibitions whatsoever against homosexual love.

So there's no way the Apostle Paul or anyone else could condemn homosexuality and still affirm the Messiah's Gospel! What I said before is true: Paul didn't condemn Lesbians! Nor did he condemn Gay men, because as a follower of Christian doctrine, he could not do so. All he could do, and did do, was give voice to some of his own personal prejudices.

Every Christian Lesbian should put reading the book of Galatians on her must-do list! Ditto for Christian Gay men, and all Pansexual and Transsexual believers. It's the key that unlocks our shackles of shame! It's the atomic bomb that obliterates every Fundamentalist/fascist argument against LGBT identity! It's the deadly insect repellant designed to wipe out Bible bigots! Galatians is the New Testament text they must refute in order to justify their bigotry, and refutation is simply impossible.

Paul never shined more brightly in his faith or his ministry than he did with this definitive doctrinal teaching. Here's an additional nugget of wisdom from the third chapter:

GALATIANS 3: 2, 3, 10-14
Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? . . . for all who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the Law" . . . Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul also confirmed what I wrote in my essay titled "The Book of Punishment": Levitican law was imposed on the ancient Israelites as a punishment, and was always restricted to that specific population:

GALATIANS 3: 19 -29, 4: 4, 5
Why then, the Law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the Promise had been made . . . before faith (in Jesus Christ) came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the Law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the Law was our disciplinarian until Christ came . . . now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith . . . God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

We number among the offspring to whom Paul refers here. Jesus Christ is our liberation from draconian law regulating sexual conduct!

In the interest of not misleading you, let me say this: While I do consider the book of Galatians a sound theological treatise, I have never, nor will I ever view the Apostle Paul's teachings as the last word on valid Christian doctrine. Neither Paul nor any of the other apostles were ultimate authorities on Christian theology.

His letter to the Galatians notwithstanding, Paul often allowed Old Covenant doctrine to defile his New Covenant ministry! Some of his other writings reveal a tendency toward elitism, not to mention his deeply-ingrained prejudices against women and homosexual men. Jesus Christ harbors no prejudices, and that, along with his supreme sacrifice, is what qualifies Him as the ultimate authority! His bias-free teachings, passed down to us in the four Gospels, are the ones that Christians must follow!

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: The Gospels supercede everything else in the Christian canon. No other book or group of books matches them in importance; not Genesis, not Leviticus, not any of the Prophetic Books, not Gnostic scripture, not even Paul's letter to the Galatians. Without the Gospels . . . the compelling story they tell, the profound lessons they teach, and the miraculous message of salvation they bring . . . Christianity has no reason to exist. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise!

I'll close this essay with the Allegory of Two Women from the book of Galatians. Composed by the Apostle Paul, whom I believe to have been a repressed homosexual man, it reads as if it had been directed at future generations of LGBT Christians:

GALATIANS 4: 24-31, 5: 1
Now, this is an allegory: These women are two Covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery (and) she is in slavery with her children; but the other woman . . . she is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous that the children of the one who is married." Now you, my brothers, are children of the Promise, like Issac . . . just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? "Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman." So then, brothers, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For . . . Christ has set us free! Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Are y'all listening? If you want to live free, let the Savior embrace you as His child. However, if you prefer to live as a slave, go join an "ex-Gay" program and let James Dobson embrace you! Just like Sly and The Family Stone sang: Different strokes for different folks!

18 April 2007

WMAs (Weapons of Mass Affirmation) (Part One)

LGBT people must familiarize themselves with the Bible! The only way to refute the Religious Right's distortions of Scripture is to know Scripture as well as (or better than) they do;  but quoting the Bible after undertaking only a superficial study of it is folly! To say nothing of quoting the Bible when you haven't really studied it at all!  Let me warn you about a new Gay Rights initiative that uses Scriptural quotes improperly.

I first read about Faith In America's provocative billboard and bumper sticker campaign on Pam Spaulding's activist newsblog, Pam's House Blend. Her post contained a link to a website affiliated with Faith In America; at the site called WouldJesusDiscriminate.com, I read a press release explaining the campaign. Here are excerpts:

. . . the 30-day campaign, which utilizes a series of billboard messages that were posted this weekend, is meant to highlight Scriptures that affirm Gay people and their relationships . . . the campaign also is using yard signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts to get the message out . . . last summer . . . Faith In America and (its affiliates) conducted a pilot project in Indianapolis, using billboards and yard signs to ask a simple question: "Would Jesus discriminate?" Organizers say this year's project will be bigger and bolder, moving beyond a gentle question to propose a bold answer that some may find unsettling.

"In the past, many Christians misused the Bible to support slavery, oppose equal rights for women, and oppose interracial marriage," says Reverend Jimmy Creech, Executive Director of Faith In America. "They went so far as to accuse people on the other side of being 'un-Biblical'. The same thing is happening again with respect to same-gender relationships. It has to stop!" Reverend Jeff Miner, Senior Pastor of Jesus MCC, said: "I can already hear tires screeching across Indianapolis as folks see the billboards . . . the purpose of the Indianapolis campaign . . . is to change the whole tenor of the debate over homosexuality . . . our goal is to rescue the Bible from misinterpretations driven by cultural prejudice, so its true message of grace, hope and peace can come through . . . I would be willing to discuss this subject in a public forum with any credible pastor who is willing to have a respectful dialogue. Let's shine a light on this subject, compare our different points of view, and let thoughtful people make up their own minds."

Sounds great, right? Promoting tolerance for LGBT people! Rescuing the Bible from misinterpretation! Engaging in respectful dialogue! What could be wrong with that? You'll find out when you read the billboard messages. Here they are, taken directly from the WouldJesusDiscriminate.com web page:

Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve:Genesis 2:24 and Ruth 1:14

David loved Jonathan more than women: 2 Samuel 1:26

Jesus affirmed a Gay couple: Matthew 8:5-13

Jesus said some are born Gay: Matthew 19:10-12

The early church welcomed a Gay man: Acts 8:26-40

I was very upset when I read these messages. I viewed them as a disaster in the making, and still do! Some of them are accurate enough, but others are totally inaccurate, and all of them are misleading to some degree. The strategists' objective in using sensationalized messages like this would appear to be the shock value Reverend Miner alluded to. Is that a responsible approach to take?

Is this Faith In America's idea of promoting tolerance for Gay people . . . using the word "Gay" out of historical context? Is this the organization's solution to Fundamentalist misinterpretation of Bible scripture . . . its own misinterpretation? Is this how Reverend Miner hopes to spark a respectful dialogue . . . by giving religious Right Wingers valid reason to denounce his theology?

You might be tempted to dismiss my complaints as nothing but a difference of opinion about what these Scriptural citations mean. This has nothing to do with my personal opinion! This is about the facts, about what the translated words from ancient texts actually say, and about evidence in the texts that supports (or fails to support) certain inferences. Let's take a closer look at the verses in dispute, and I'll demonstrate what I mean.

The Book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi, a Jewish woman who faces destitution after the untimely deaths of her husband and two sons. The verses in question deal with Naomi's concern for her widowed daughters-in-law; not wanting them to suffer in poverty as she expects to do, she advises them to return to their blood relatives.

RUTH 1: 8-16
. . . Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back each of you to your mother's house . . . the Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of (a new) husband. They said to her, "No, we will return with you to your people." But Naomi said, "Turn back, daughters! Why will you go with me? . . . even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying?" . . . Then they wept aloud again . . . but Ruth clung to her . . . (Naomi) said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said: "Do not press me to leave you, or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die (and) there I will be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!"

Lesbian partners who ascribe to the Christian faith have traditionally viewed these verses as an affirmation of bonds between women. That certainly is a valid interpretation. What isn't valid, and what isn't suggested by the text, is the idea that the bond between Ruth and Naomi is erotic. On its web pages, WouldJesusDiscriminate.com argues that the ancient Hebrew word dabaq, meaning "to cling", conveys the erotic nature of Ruth and Naomi's relationship. They note that the same word is used in Genesis to describe Adam's bond with Eve. However, the word has no erotic connotation! It could be used to describe a child clinging to its mother, and indeed, that appears to be the sense in which it's used in Ruth 1:14.

Ruth shows compassion to her elderly mother-in-law, who may die impoverished if there is no one to care for her. Refusing to break their familial tie, she expresses her love for Naomi . . . the love of a daughter for her mother, not romantic love! The book of Ruth ends with Ruth bearing a child with her new husband, Boaz, a man Naomi chose for her. Naomi is subsequently taken into Ruth's new family, where she will be cared for. How could anyone characterize this narrative as a Lesbian love story? It's absurd!

Scholars argue over the number of homoerotic narratives in the Bible, but they all agree that the story of David and Jonathan is the most explicit narrative of this type. Reading the verses that describe their relationship, it's impossible to disagree. Here are those verses, taken from the books of Samuel:

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 . . .

1 SAMUEL 19: 1
Saul spoke with his son Jonathan and with all his servants about killing David, but Saul's son Jonathan took great delight in David.

1 SAMUEL 20: 16, 17
. . . thus Jonathan made covenant with the house of David, saying: "May the Lord seek out (your) enemies . . ." Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own life.

1 SAMUEL 20: 30
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him: "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen (David) the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?"

Blogmaster's note: Most Bible scholars agree that "shame of your mother's nakedness" is a clear sexual reference.

2 SAMUEL 1:2-
. . . a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. . . . David said to him: "How did things go? Tell me!" He answered: "The army fled from battle, but also many of the army fell and died, and Saul and his son Jonathan also died." . . . then David took hold of his clothes and tore them . . . David intoned his lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan . . . "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan, greatly beloved were you to me (and) your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

"Binding of souls" is done by God. The narrative clearly infers that God caused Jonathan and David to fall in love with one another, and did so with the aim of using their love to save David's life. So the relationship between David and Jonathan was undeniably romantic, and there are passages that strongly suggest their relationship had a physical component. This story is definitely an affirmation of loving homosexual relationships, and Gay Rights advocates are justified in characterizing it that way.

However, to post a blurb on a billboard that reads "David loved Jonathan more than women" reduces the tenderness, poignancy and significance of their love to a crass statement about sexual preference; I daresay there's a subtle dash of misogyny in that message, too! That David loved Jonathan more than he'd loved a female up to that point is irrelevant; apparently Pansexual, he would go on to love Bathsheba and numerous other women. What is relevant is that David loved Jonathan romantically, and that David was the direct ancestor of Jesus Christ, the Savior! Now let's take a look at the Gospel story about the Savior healing a Roman centurion's slave.

"WMAs (Weapons of Mass Affirmation)" continues with Part Two.

17 April 2007

WMAs (Weapons of Mass Affirmation), Part Two

MATTHEW 8:5-13
When (the Savior) entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, appealing to Him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress." And He said to him, "I will come and cure him." The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof . . . only speak the word, and my servant will be healed . . . when Jesus heard him, He was amazed and said to those who followed Him: "Truly, I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith!" . . . and to the centurion Jesus said, "Go, let it be done for you according to your faith." And the servant was healed in that hour.

WouldJesusDiscriminate.com claims that the ancient Greek word pais, which means "youngster," and which the centurion uses to refer to his slave, has an erotic connotation. Untrue! Without the accompanying word Greek word erastes, meaning "lover", it carries no such connotation. That said, there's plenty of historical evidence that Roman centurions were in the habit of copulating with their slaves. Even so, we cannot infer from this passage that Jesus Christ affirmed a "Gay couple"!

We might infer that He didn't condemn a relationship between males that probably had a sexual component. However, we don't know that for sure, and we also don't know if the two males were in love. Granted, we know that the centurion had tender feelings for his slave, but we have no idea how the slave felt about the centurion!

For me, likening an ancient master/slave situation to a modern homosexual love affair is problematic. I mean, really!  If the relationship between these two figures from the Gospel of Matthew was indeed sexual, the slave surely had little say in the matter. If his master wanted sex, how could he refuse?

Something else to think about is that, given the customs of ancient Greece and Rome, any sexual activity between this pair would have been of a pederastic nature: A mature man penetrating a teenage boy. Pais and erastes form the etymological roots of the word "pederasty" . . . a most alarming fact that puts a completely different spin on this Bible story!

Reverend Minor had better think twice if he believes he can have a "respectful dialogue" with Conservative preachers about man/boy love! In their eagerness to tease homo-eroticism out of this passage, the well-meaning folk at WouldJesusDiscriminate.com have failed to consider these issues. Poor scholarship undermines their message!  Fortunately, the last two Scriptural citations find them on firmer ground.

MATTHEW 19:10-12
(Jesus Christ's) disciples said to Him . . . "It is better not to marry" . . . He said to them . . . "There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this (teaching) who can!"

ACTS 8:26-39
Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south, to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza" . . . so he got up and went. Now, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it!" So Philip ran up to it and . . . he asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" (The eunuch) replied, "how can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him . . . then Philip began to speak . . . he proclaimed to him the Good News about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said . . . "What is to prevent me from being baptized?" He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, 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 snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

The extensive studies of Faris Malik and others have established that "eunuch" was one of the words ancient societies used to describe what we call Gay men today. Everything I've read in Gnostic scripture supports this research. "Eunuch" did not mean "castrated man", as it does today; that definition evolved over subsequent centuries. The word was used to identify men who didn't have sex with women.

Not convinced? Then consider this fact. The ancient Greek root of the word (eunoukhos) means "guardian of a bed or bedchamber." It denotes nothing about castration or male genitalia. Because they were known to lack sexual interest in women, eunuchs were hired by kings and noblemen to guard their harems. It's wrong to assume that all ancient eunuchs were castrated, because many were not.

Often used as sexual playthings by soldiers and royalty, they were widely known as man-loving men, and societies like the ancient Israelites despised their ways. This, I think, explains the homophobia of Jewish Christians like the Apostle Paul. Ironically, Paul himself was probably a eunuch, and very likely "from birth" (I cited evidence for this probability in my essay titled "The First Tortured Homsexual Christian").

While every man called a eunuch in antiquity wasn't homosexual (pansexual, heterosexual and homosexual boys were castrated in a barbaric attempt to "create" eunuchs), all those called eunuchs were believed to be, and those whom the Christ called "eunuchs who have been so from birth" definitely were. Of course, Bible bigots will argue that He was not referring to homosexual males when He spoke of eunuchs "from birth". They claim that He was speaking about heterosexual males born with genital deformities, and furthermore, that these heterosexual males had no sexual desire. What a ridiculous claim this is!

Deformed or absent genitalia doesn't mean sexual desire is absent in a man! Nor does it preclude physical intimacy. Faris Malik has documented cases where heterosexual, castrated eunuch slaves secretly engaged in sexual activity with women, usually against the wishes of their masters. What's more, we know that Transsexual females who undergo castration retain their sex drive.

Regardless of their true sexual orientations, and regardless of how intact their "equipment" was, ancient eunuchs were sexually active men! The assumption of ancient society was that they were homosexually active. Surely, Jesus Christ knew the homosexual connotation of the word "eunuch", and He knew that His disciples and the other people He was addressing would pick up on it. He used the word for that very reason.

The Gnostic Gospel of Philip calls the born eunuch a "keeper of the Bridal Chamber", which, as I noted before, is the true definition of the word. It says that he possesses a blended gender identity, and the Egyptian Gospel confirms that he has a homosexual orientation. These texts also establish that none other than Jesus Christ Himself is involved in the conception of eunuchs and virgins (Lesbians) prior to birth; therefore, He, more than anyone else, would have reason to say men exist who are eunuchs "from birth"! (For scriptural citations and more details, see my essay titled "We Are Family, Parts One, Two and Three".)

It's not just Gnostic scripture that exalts eunuchs; certain Bible passages do, too. The 56th chapter of Isaiah teaches that eunuchs have a special honor reserved for them in Heaven:

ISAIAH 56: 4, 5
For this is what the Lord says: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who choose what pleases Me and hold fast to My Covenant, to them I will give within My temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off!"

The book of Revelations indicates that men who have not "defiled" themselves with women (in a word, eunuchs) will function as the Savior's manservants in Heaven:

REVELATIONS 14: 1-5
Then I looked, and there was the Lamb (Jesus Christ), standing on Mount Zion! And with Him were one-hundred-forty-four-thousand who had His name and His Father's name written on their foreheads . . . they sing a new song before the throne . . . no one could learn that song except the one-hundred-forty-four thousand (men) who have been redeemed from the Earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb . . . they are blameless.

Matthew 19:12, the verse that connects eunuchs to God's Kingdom, has already been cited. So there's ample Scriptural support for what the billboards claim about verses from the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Acts; in fact, these messages really don't go far enough in affirming the relationship between Gay men, the church and God. I take exception, though, to calling ancient Biblical figures "Gay." Since that politicized word and its modern understanding didn't exist in Biblical times, its use in this context amounts to linguistic inaccuracy.

I hope you understand why I'm so upset now. We cannot reduce Jesus Christ's affirmation of LGBT status to a sensationalist roadside media byte! We also cannot benefit the cause of Gay equality by reinforcing the practice of Bibliolatry. The worship of man-made Scripture is what made LGBT persecution happen in the first place! In order to remedy this problem, we've got to act deliberately and responsibly. I deplore the "gotcha" method of communication employed by WouldJesusDiscriminate.com! Shock tactics will ultimately do more harm to our cause than good!

We must (1) stress that following the example of Jesus Christ, not imposing Biblical law on others, is the proper path for a Christian, (2) draw a distinction between Old Covenant law from the Old Testament, and New Covenant law, found in the Gospels, (3) remind people that the Bible is humankind's interpretation of God's word, not the direct word of God, (4) denounce the worship of Bible scripture as practiced by Fundamentalists, (5) demand that the Bible and other early Christian texts be approached in a scholarly way and (6) in the interest of scholarship, methodically teach the Gay-affirming nature of passages like Matthew 19, Isaiah 56, and Revelations 14. Then we can encourage Conservative religious folk to explore Gnostic texts like the Gospel of Philip, the Book of Thomas, and the Egyptian Gospel, which elaborate on the blessed status accorded to eunuchs (Gay men) and virgins (Lesbians) by ancient Christian theologians.

We shouldn't expect hard-bitten Bible bigots to abandon their distorted theology, though. Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Ken Hutcherson and their ilk derive much earthly power from that theology, and most of them are hopelessly addicted to the acquisition of earthly power! Good scholarship won't sway them in the least, but we shouldn't waste time worrying about that. God will see to those problems we lack the power to rectify. Studying Gay-affirming texts is a task that LesBiGay Christians and their Straight allies must undertake for their own benefit.

Knowing what the ancient Biblical and Gnostic texts really say about LGBT status will serve to strengthen our resolve. More important, it will erase the doubt and shame which have been planted in our minds by centuries of false prophesy.

I've contacted both WouldJesusDiscriminate.com and Faith In America and asked them to modify their media campaign. I've requested that the billboards quoting Ruth 1 and Matthew 8 be withdrawn. Whether they will be or not remains to be seen. It's a safe bet that Jeff Miner and Jimmy Creech disagree with me about strategy, as well as about Biblical interpretation. However, there's no disagreement between us about this statement Reverend Creech used to end Faith In America's press release:

"In their hearts, people know that discriminating against Gay and Transgender people is terribly wrong! We want to encourage people to speak up when religious bullies misuse the Bible to berate Gay people. Each of us has a responsibility to end the misuse of religion to justify discrimination."

Yes, Jimmy, each of us does have that responsibility! Especially LGBT folk, whom God has singularly blessed. We've got Scripture on our side! We've got special, God-given insights and creative gifts we can use to better the world. We've got the promise of a job in Heaven serving Jesus Christ! We've got a permanent presence in the Christian church that can't be purged, no matter how hard the Papacy or Right Wing Protestant leaders may try. We've got a blended gender identity that attests to the power of our Lord; nobody else could create the miracle of men-loving men and woman-loving women! Nobody else could create a Transgender soul that is both male and female.

If we look around and within ourselves, we'll see that we're far from powerless. God has armed us with WMAs (Weapons of Mass Affirmation)! He's given us these weapons to use in our fight against heterosexism, ignorance and hatred; all we have to do is pick them up and wield them!

11 April 2007

Getting Out More In Public (Part One)

I recently read an article called "The Glass Closet," published in the May 2000 online edition of Out Magazine. It elaborates on a topic I addressed in my previous post, "Why Do You Like It So Rough?" I posted a comment in response to the article, but as so often happens when I react to online opinion pieces, the comment never appeared. I guess I'm just too damn controversial! I shared my aborted comment with Dr. Jerry Maneker, who eagerly suggested I let him post it on his blog, christianlgbtrights.org. I did, he did, and now here it is topping my own blogroll! First, let me tell you about the article.

Entertainment journalist Michael Musto wrote about closeted Lesbian and Gay celebrities who've taken advantage of a more open climate toward diversity. While officially closeted, they live in a fairly open manner, living with same-gender partners, patronizing Gay establishments, etcetera. However, they draw the line at discussing their LGBT status in public! It's considered an outrage and an invasion of privacy should a reporter ever broach the subject. It's a modern case of the Emperor having no clothes on as he parades around the city square, with nobody in the crowd being brave enough to remark on his bouncing genitalia! Musto feels this hypocritical practice creates a stigma around LGBT status and compromises objective journalism. I agree totally! Here's a quote from him:

The glass closet is nothing new in Hollywood. Back in the 1920s and '30s, leading man William Haines was Gay in everything except magazine interviews . . . in the '70s, performers like Paul Lynde and . . . Peter Allen similarly went as far as seemed possible, hinting around at their sexuality and even making appearances at various Gay spots. But they could be certain the squeamish media wouldn't push things any further by addressing that, so they remained flamboyantly, ambiguously glassed off. And today, the press still gives a free pass to people like "Good Morning America" weather anchor Sam Champion and CNN presence Anderson Cooper, helping to keep their glass doors shut so they can lead Gay social lives while carefully skirting the issue. The media has a field day with all kinds of oddballs, but (Gay public figures) get "protected," even though Cooper has been seen in Gay bars in New York, and Champion sightings have long been reported from Fire Island to the Roxy.

Surprisingly enough, the concept of being 'semi-sort-of-out' has even infiltrated the ranks of the Republicans. Pioneer outing journalist Michelangelo Signorile feels that "in the Republican Party now, the glass closet is OK. It's like, 'just don't talk about it or announce it.' It's progress, but it also still makes being Gay something you really shouldn't talk about."

It's true that stars are free to put up whatever walls they want in order to maintain boundaries with the public. But even at their most controlling, Straight stars never seem to leave out the fact that they're Straight in interviews. Whenever a subject tells me, "I won't discuss who I'm dating" or "I resent labels," I generally know not so much that they're passionate about privacy but that they're Gay, Gay, Gay.

I wrote in the fifth part of my most recent blog essay that journalists who refuse to broach a public figure's LGBT status, even when the context of the story demands it, are showing bias. I suggested that they throw their claims of journalistic objectivity out the window, because their willingness to engage in a conspiracy of silence puts the lie to such claims. This is basically the same thing Michael Musto is arguing. Reading the online reactions to his article, though, it's obvious that many (presumably Gay) people do not agree! Here's a sampling of what some of them had to say:

I think that there is nothing wrong with this glass closet if you have a high-profile position.

I think there's something wrong! If people in high-profile positions continue to cooperate with bigotry by hiding in a glass closet, then the bigotry will always exist. Nobody's challenging it! If you're comfortable with the kind of status quo where LGBT orientation can be used to stifle one's career mobility, then I guess you can live with that, can't you? I can't! And I hope a growing number of LGBT strivers can't, either. Changing workplace discrimination always involves some discomfort and risk. Is it worth it? Ask the National Organization for Women. Ask the National Council of Support for Disability Issues. Ask the United Farmworkers Union. Ask the NAACP!

I find it ironic that a magazine that advocates people choosing to live whatever lifestyle (sic) they want without criticism or prejudice is blasting people for doing just that. It's their life, their choice, their decision (about) who to tell, what to tell (and) when to tell, and you're pressuring them to conform to your schedule and agenda. Report on those who embrace their lifestyle (sic) openly, and leave those who choose to keep it personal alone.

I hope I'm not the only one who detects the underlying hatred and heterosexism in this comment! Let me highlight the red flags: The way he refers to LGBT identity as a "lifestyle" . . . the way he uses the word "choice" when talking about LGBT identity . . . the way he suggests that LGBT folks should "keep it personal" . . . and the way he talks about LGBT identity without actually saying the words "Gay" or "Pansexual" or "Lesbian" or "Transsexual"! This is a textbook example of how taboos are erected around Gay topics.

What's the big deal if someone doesn't want to come out professionally? I've never understood this. And who gives you the right to "out" someone? Being a Gay man, one would think you'd be more sensitive about this issue. Everyone has their time.

If we wait until all LGBT folk are willing to be honest about themselves "in their own time", we'll be rotting in our graves before we see any real change in societal attitudes toward us! What gives celebrities or anybody else the right to think others should keep their secrets for them?

This is incredibly disrespectful to those people who are in the closet or are not publicly open yet. Let them do it in their own time and way. You do not get to choose when they come out.

What an absurd accusation! Nobody who "outs" a Lesbian or Gay public figure chooses when that person comes out. The person in question can always deny being Gay, if they're so determined to be perceived otherwise! That person can still decide to be honest with the world "in their own time and way." However, nothing obligates other people to be dishonest or silent about the truth until that time comes!

Musto's assumption that the only way to be certifiably Gay is to make a public statement is misplaced. Many of us make no attempt to disguise the fact that we're Gay, yet don't make a fuss over it, either.

(Certifiably Gay? Goodness gracious me!  I didn't know there was a certification process . . . I'd better find out how to get my certificate!) Michael Musto never said closeted celebrities should be obligated to make a public statement. He never said they should "make a fuss over it." He merely said they shouldn't bristle, dodge, or lie when questions about their orientation are asked. Actor/comedian Neil Patrick Harris recently demonstrated how such questions should be dealt with. When the subject of his possibly being Gay arose in a public forum, he acknowledged it, and in a most dignified manner, I might add. The following quote comes from People Magazine:

(I) am quite proud to say that I am a very content Gay man living my life to the fullest.

Ah, the invigorating smell of personal integrity! Since then, though, Neil has firmly closed the door on reporters who want to harp on homosexuality. He recently told entertainment reporter Whitney Pastorek:

As much as I respect advocacy, I don't feel that my job description is "advocate." My job description is "jester."

He may be motivated to amend his job description in the future, but if he doesn't, that's fine. All of us can't be Larry Kramer! Living with integrity is the most important form of Gay Rights activism, and Neil Patrick Harris has already set a sterling example.  Now, here's a sterling example of internalized homophobia from another of Michael Musto's readers:

While it's true that those still living (in the closet) are cowards, "outing" them is an invasion of privacy, and wrong!

When reporters asking heterosexual celebrities about their wives and children starts being perceived as an "invasion of privacy", that's when I'll agree with this statement, and not a minute sooner!

"Getting Out More In Public" continues with Part Two.

10 April 2007

Getting Out More In Public (Part Two)

For those who choose to be open in their sexuality and freely discuss their personal lives, then great . . . it is unfair of you to project your wishes and expectations on another individual. We as a people have the freedom to live our lives the way we choose. It is inappropriate for others to establish what is best for those around them and what will make others the most happy.

Try telling that to our government and law enforcement agencies! So this guy opposes any policy that encroaches on individual freedom?  Well, that's his right. However, I think individual freedom stops at the place where it begins jeopardizing the freedom of others! This idea that LGBT status should ever be an unbreachable topic reinforces bigoted attitudes that limit our civil liberties.

I look at countries like Zimbabwe, Iran and Jamaica, and I see the bloody, barbaric results of LGBT stigmatization. Civilization won't be truly civilized until people get over their fear of Gay topics, and I mean Gay and Straight people alike. Talking about Gay topics in a normal, natural way will hasten the day when that happens; so if that amounts to "establishing what is best for those around (me)", then I plead guilty! Frankly, I'm just as concerned with establishing what's best for me, and I can't feature how validation of the closet does me a damn bit of good.

I am appalled by the salaciousness, insensitive, tabloid sensationalism of (this)story!

I wonder, is salaciousness and insensitivity really what appalls this person so much, or is it the shock of someone suggesting that LGBT identity be treated in the same way heterosexual identity is treated? Gasp!

Someone in the public eye who comes out must then become an example, and since (Anderson) Cooper is a newsperson who interviews politians, it could hinder his career . . . no Republican against Gay Rights is gonna be on (his program) . . .

Man! If Right Wing politicians ever stop appearing on TV news programs for fear of Lesbians and Gay men interviewing them, we'll see a lot fewer reactionary types on television, won't we? This, I think, would be a good thing.

Seriously, any career path that's hindered by not being honest about who you are is a career path that's not worth pursuing! A profession loses more by excluding Gay people than Gay people lose by being excluded from a profession, and many major corporations realize that today. They actively recruit Gay candidates and provide a safe, welcoming environment for them to work in.

I grew up with Christian values, real Christian values, so excuse me if I don't feature this "anything to get ahead" viewpoint. Shame on anybody who'd sacrifice integrity and values for a six-figure media job! Money and prestige isn't everything! Granted, it may mean everything to a striver, but isn't that the striver's concern?

Let me say this again: Nobody is obligated to protect anybody else's career options by keeping that person's orientation a secret. Especially when it's an open secret! If you really want a secret kept, then keep it yourself and don't share it!

I just went to see Borat . . . and in the movie, when the character comes to America's Midwest . . . he meets with an older man who tells him that all the homos should be hanged (and that's a very [common] attitude on that location)! I, then, realized that there is still the American Midwest and that (kind of) mentality!! What about that??? So, I don't think it's wrong if those celebrities don't wanna come out of the glass closet . . . while those (mid-western) Americans . . . with their narrowed minds are still out there, they shouldn't assume their sexualities!!!

Lord, deliver me from dingbats! Not only does this guy suggest that Lesbians and Gay men can't live openly in the Midwest (which is patently false, because I and others I know have been living openly here for years), he also suggests that victims of bigotry are better off accomodating it! I can see how following his advice generations ago might've given the 21st century such wonderful public policies as segregated drinking fountains, suffrage for men only, and hundreds of lucrative professions being closed to ethnic minorities. If this guy's serious, he's the biggest coward I've ever encountered! I resent the way he characterizes all us mid-westerners as homicidal rednecks, too!

I absolutely agree with Michael Musto that helping public figures stay closeted reinforces heterosexism and internalized homophobia. Oy vey!  People behave as if saying a person is Gay or Lesbian were the equivalent of describing sex acts in graphic detail! Quiet as it's kept, the adjective "Gay" is not synonymous with the adjective "pornographic"!!! And that's something Gay as well as Straight folk need to realize! There's no legitimate reason why one's physical attraction to the same gender or to all genders should be considered a "private matter."

Being LGBT isn't only about sex! It's also about gender identity, point of view, creativity and spirituality. LGBT status is an important part of one's being! It helps define who you are as a person, just like your religious affiliation or your ethnicity defines you.

If one isn't shy about discussing one's religion or ethnicity in public, why should one be shy about acknowledging LGBT status? If there's nothing wrong with being a Lesbian, a Gay man, a Pansexual man or woman, or a Transsexual person, then there's nothing wrong with talking about it. On the other hand, if there's something wrong with talking about it, then there's something wrong with being it! When will we ever get that little bit of logic through our thick heads?

Sure, it's dangerous to admit you're Gay in certain settings. Yes, it can lead to loss of livelihood, housing, family support, etcetera. But wasn't that also true of African-Americans who demanded suffrage and other Civil Rights in the 1940s, '50s and '60s? They endured the often brutal punishment that came their way, and for their trouble, they won many of the rights they sought. Nobody ever said fighting for equality would be easy! Nobody ever said there wouldn't be casualties. No pain, no gain, sugar!

Oppression will always exist until we resolve to challenge it! If we're serious about our Civil Rights struggle (and I often question if we really are), we'd damn well better change the way we approach LGBT identity. Public discussion about who and what we are will continue to be stigmatized until we act to de-stigmatize it! No one person's career opportunities, or friendships, or family ties justifies coöperation with this appalling status quo! No, not even our individual safety justifies it! Not when there's a chance that we can prevent our LGBT kids and grandkids from having to suffer under the same kind of heterosexual fascism.

Are we content to let heterosexual supremacy be passed down to future generations? Is history going to record that Gay people were brave freedom fighters, or shamefaced accomodators of bigotry? Are we going to act like we're proud of being LGBT children of God, or are we just going to say we're proud while hiding shame in our hearts and crossed fingers behind our backs?

Shame on us! Our accomodationism dishonors the memories of Magnus Hirschfeld, Edward Carpenter, Bayard Rustin, and all the brave pioneers whose acts of integrity helped make a better world for us. Some of us just love to fall up on television, radio and the Web and brag about being "radical queers" who are out to revolutionalize society; but if we vigorously defend the closet, and many of us do, it's just another case of naked Emperors parading around! Such a defense reveals us to be anything but radical, and it reinforces the impression of us as "queers" in the minds of the Straight majority. You can't argue that you're normal, then turn around and endorse abnormal behavior. You can't talk proud and act ashamed. It's not convincing, sugar!

Lesbian, Gay and Pansexual folk who argue that closetedness is acceptable are just like Uncle Toms . . . no, I take that back. They're worse than Uncle Toms! They've got a handkerchief-head mentality that makes Aunt Jemimah come across like Angela Davis in comparison!