17 December 2008

One Bad Apple (Part One)

Osmonds

I used to be quite the Donny Osmond fan. Hey, we share a first name, we’re both adorably cute, and we both have larger-than-average teeth . . . obviously, there's a natural kinship!

I grew up dancing to uptempo Osmond songs like "Down By The Lazy River”, "Like A Yo-Yo" and "One Bad Apple" on the radio. I couldn't get enough of them!  Then, after Donny began his solo career, I secretly enjoyed his renditions of classic ballads like "The Twelfth Of Never”, "Too Young" and “A Million To One”. I also dug his sister Marie's sultry way with a Disco number; girlfriend really sizzled on "This Is The Way That I Feel"!

Other kids in my neighborhood didn't find Donny and Marie’s music as cool as The Osmonds’ earlier hits, but I did. I can recall, not without embarrassment, singing along at the top of my lungs to their remake of Don and Dewey's “I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You”! Naturally, I watched “The Donny and Marie” variety show in the late '70s (and I’ll never forget frequent guest-star Tina Turner, bumping and grinding her way around those wild Sid and Marty Kroftt stage sets). I just loved Donny Osmond's music! I still do, and I think he's one of the best singers around.

That doesn't mean I would ever buy his product again! Believe me, I wouldn't, not even if I were paid to do it! Browsing the Web recently, I came across Donny’s condescending comments about same-gender couples. They were, of course, highly offensive, but I must admit, they didn't surprise me. Long before I visited his website, I had sensed that Donny was a hard-core heterosexist!

I sensed it when he appeared on the "Arsenio Hall Show" in 1989 and I noticed how uncomfortable he was in the presence of an obviously Gay man (sorry to peg you like that, Arsenio, but it's true). I also sensed it when Eric McCormack was a guest on the short-lived ABC-TV talk show he and Marie hosted some years back. I'll never forget the grim looks on their faces when McCormack began to discuss his role as a Gay lawyer on "Will and Grace." Now, I've heard certain rumors about Donny's sexuality over the years. I have no idea if they're true, but even if they were, they wouldn't excuse his reprehensible attitude!

It would be easy to blame his religion, Mormonism, for that attitude. Far too easy, I think. Donny Osmond admits to knowing Gay people, and he and his family must have worked with dozens of us during their many years in show business. He’s a reasonably intelligent person, and capable of learning from personal experience. Surely he knows by now that LesBiGay identity is real.  It isn't a vice, it isn't a “lifestyle”, and it sure as sh*t isn't a recruitment drive!  He must realize that the rhetoric he's parroting has no credibility.

If Donny were the man of good character I used to think he was, he'd promote warmer relations between the heavily LGBT entertainment industry and the closed-minded doctrinaires of his church. He could help build a bridge of understanding! Instead, he chooses to stand with the bridge-burners. What a disappointment, and what a damper on his market appeal! I respect Donny's God-given talent, and always will, but Stuffed Animal don't respect willful ignorance in anybody!

I read his ridiculous statement in regard to marriage equality, and I let it slide off me like water from a duck's feathers! I considered it too pathetic to rate my attention. My friend, Rev. Jerry Maneker also saw it, and had an altogether different reaction. He was both enraged and disgusted. When something has that effect on Jerry, he doesn’t just sit around stewing. Oh, no, sugar. He blogs, and how! Dude has absolutely no reservations about expressing his opinion, especially when it concerns Gay Rights! I saw his post about Donny Osmond's statement before anyone else did, and his observations were so on-point that, dammit . . . I finally had to get irritated, too! And I’ll bet you feel the same way when you read these excerpts:

On the Question and Response section of his blog, (singer) Donny Osmond, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was asked the following question:

"How do you think Christians should respond to Gay friends who consider themselves 'married'...?"

Part of his response to that question is the following:

"There are many Gay individuals that are members of our church. I know many of them. In fact, some of my best friends are Gay. You ask how I react regarding their marriages. Well, I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with Gay tendencies (sic) in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations. Everyone has tenancies(sic) to succumb to temptation, but we all have the same standard given to us by our Father in Heaven. Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well."

Although Mormonism is not within the mainstream of Christianity, this one response sums up the "justifications" for a lot of the revulsion . . . that many professing Christians have toward Gay people! I want to comment on significant parts of his response, as I think that (it) gets at the very heart of what we're fighting against when we engage in the struggle for full and equal rights for Gay people . . .

(Donny said) "There are many Gay individuals that are members of our church." Why any self-respecting Gay person would be a member of any organization, church or not, that discriminates against him/her, and preaches that being Gay is in any way immoral, disordered, evil, a threat to the "sanctity of marriage," a threat to children, etcetera, is a mystery to me! He/she must have a tremendous degree of self-loathing that is superficially masked by proclaiming, "It's my church, too.” Really? Can you preach from the pulpit that being Gay is healthy (and that) faithful same-sex love is just as sacred as is opposite-sex love? Can you feel free to live as a Gay person within that church and among its members? Get it clear: It's not your church, too!

Say amen, somebody!

Gay people should flee those homophobic churches as fast as they can, lest those churches wreak more havoc with (their) psyches than they may have already done. It's not healthy for you, and just gives that church credibility through your very presence and through the monies you contribute . . . they can turn around and use that credibility and money to continue to proclaim that your lives are "immoral" and "sinful", and that you deserve to be deprived of full and equal civil rights. Just get out of those churches, and either go to a church that is worthy of you and that embraces you as it does anyone else, or you're far better off not going to church at all!

Preach, Jerry! Tell it like it is! And keep telling the truth to Gay Christians until it finally dawns on their stubborn, closed minds!

(Donny said) ". . . some of my best friends are Gay." Yeah! Right! With the feelings toward Gay people that he holds and expresses, how in the world could any self-respecting Gay person be his best friend, or believe that he is their best friend? He's either deluding himself and/or others, or has as Gay "best friends" terribly self-loathing people who lack self-respect.

I must admit, it did surprise me that Donny would be so lacking in class as to talk in such a demeaning way. I’d expect that stuff from some ignorant, swaggering Gangsta rapper, but not from him! I guess he’s just another ex-teen idol with feet of clay.

(Donny said) ". . . I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with Gay tendencies (sic) in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations." Saying "Gay tendencies" is equivalent to saying "Straight tendencies"! We don't have sexual "tendencies," but our emotional/sexual orientation and stimulation exist at the very core, the very heart, of our beings, be we Straight or Gay. He would never talk about "heterosexual tendencies" . . . (Donny Osmond) represents most professing Christians who are homophobic in that they feel that homosexuality is merely engaged in by perverted heterosexuals (sic)! They fail to see that homosexuality is as much a part of one's core being as is heterosexuality, and that mere suppression of those "tendencies" is not only doomed to failure, but . . . the warped creature that emanates from all that suppression can cause, and frequently does cause, inestimable harm to him/herself and/or to others.

Warped like a damn horny toad, Jerry! Think of Reverend Ted Haggard and Senator Larry Craig. Think of Merv Griffin and Liberace. Think of Pat . . . ah, but that would be telling!

"One Bad Apple" continues with Part Two.

One Bad Apple (Part Two)

Osmonds

Rev. Jerry Maneker's analysis of Donny Osmond's "faith-based" bigotry continues:

So, it's just as foolish to ask why a person is Gay as to ask why a person is Straight! Gay people are not perverted Straight people! And that fact must be hammered home to those who insist with oracular authority that that fiction is the case; that very fiction demonstrates their woeful ignorance of sexuality!

In my opinion, it’s just another example of negative consequences resulting from a lack of comprehensive sex education in our country. Ignorance is not bliss!

(Donny said) ". . . we all have the same standard given to us by our Father in Heaven.” The only "standard given to us" was articulated by Jesus, when He was asked:

MATTHEW 22: 36-40
"Master, which is the Great Commandment in the Law?" Jesus then answered . . . “’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ This is the First and Great Commandment. And the Second is like unto it: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.
"

Nowhere did Jesus ever advocate shunning another, depriving anyone of full and equal civil rights (or) denying anyone a seat at the Lord's table, save for the self-righteous legalists who . . . distort, through ignorance and/or malice, the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: The Gospel of Grace or unmerited favor God freely gives to us through our faith in Him. Hear the Apostle Paul:

EPHESIANS 2: 8, 9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Elsewhere, Paul asserts:

GALATIANS 2: 21
I do not frustrate the Grace of God, for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Have you ever heard a preacher cite the Apostle Paul's words in defense of LGBT folk before? Jerry Maneker does it all the time! I've been known to do it myself on occasion. Nothing could be more natural, provided you understand what Scripture really says!

The homophobic professing Christians fail to realize that they commit a grievous sin! They "frustrate the grace of God," and see themselves as righteous because they seek to articulate and impose on others God's "Law," as they see it, a "law" that coincidentally matches their preconceived prejudices. However, when that "law" threatens their own interests, they miraculously receive "another revelation," as occurred when the Mormon Church in 1978 gave up its institutional racism (and) when the Mormon Church officially gave up the preaching and the practice of polygamy.

I wish dyed-in-the-wool religious bigots like Eddie Long, Ken Hutcherson, TD Jakes and Harry Jackson, Jr. would hurry up and get revelations about how the Lord's LGBT children should be treated! But maybe after what happened to Jesus Christ when He tried to enlighten the corrupt Orthodoxy, God became more conservative in the distribution of His divine messages. He obviously knows better than to waste them on knuckleheads!

(Donny said) “Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well.” Many people view being Gay as . . . equivalent to being "immoral!" And that perverse view, of course, is learned largely from homophobic clergy and other religious leaders who rail from assorted pulpits throughout the world, (equating) being "Gay" with being "immoral" and with being "hedonistic." It is equivalent to defining heterosexuality (as) adultery and spouse-swapping!

It's also the equivalent of equating Mormonism with polygamy and Warren Jeffs-style child marriage. Hello!

Homophobes have a vested interest in dealing with . . . (the) "seamy" side of being Gay, while at the same time focusing on the seemingly "healthy, family oriented" side of being Straight. It doesn't matter that it's Straight people who have put the myth to the oft-used phrase "sanctity of marriage," given rampant divorce rates! In order to maintain the fiction that Gay people are "immoral" and "hedonistic," homophobes . . . engage in the irrational by blaming Gay people for the downfall of the institution of marriage.

A neat trick, if you can pull it off . . . to be forbidden to marry in all but a handful of places on Earth, and yet somehow still possess the power to destroy all heterosexual marriages! Gee . . . I wonder if I’ve filled my quota of estranged husbands and wives today?  These homosexual recruitment standards are a b*tch to meet!  Will I ever win that toaster oven? (Thanks, Ellen DeGeneres.)

The definition of "Chaste" is as follows: "Refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion; virtuous." Being Gay and having faithful same-sex relationships is, indeed, contrary to a great deal of religious rhetoric, but . . . faithful same-sex love and relationships are every bit as moral and virtuous as are faithful opposite-sex love and relationships! So many professing Christians and others miss this truth . . . being Gay, like being Straight, is normal, healthy, life-affirming, Godly, and sacred! And all the homophobic religious leaders and their blind followers in the world can . . . never successfully overcome these truths!

Testify!

And in the not-too-distant future, all decent and intelligent people, Christians and non-Christians, will come to see the basic depravity of homophobic thinking, much as they now do with its cousin, White Supremacy, that was in ascendancy in this country not all that long ago!

Celebrity worship being what it is, I’m sure Donny Osmond’s fans would howl with rage at the suggestion that their idol engages in depraved thinking. What else can you call it, though, when someone believes that a Christ who died to expunge guilt accumulated under draconian Holiness Codes would still require us to observe that code? When someone believes that God would punish LGBT humans for expressing the unique identity that Scripture (specifically, Matthew 19: 9-12) tells us He gifted them with? Not to mention when someone believes, despite the Savior's teaching to judge not, lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1) that his church has the right to administer some of that punishment?

We can safely assume from the aforementioned quotes that Mr. Osmond sees nothing wrong with Mormon families disowning their Gay children, and that he supports the hundreds of Gay Mormon ex-communications his church elders have enforced over the years. Depraved is much too mild a word to describe that kind of thinking!

MATTHEW 23: 13, 14
(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 can't help but think of Mormon missionaries when you read those last verses. However, this warning isn’t specific to any one denomination. It applies to any and all self-identified messengers of God who carry a perverted Gospel message!

MARK 7: 6-9
(Jesus Christ) said to them: "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.' You abandon the Commandment of God and hold to human tradition!"

If there's any question in your mind about what Commandment the Lord was referring to here, back up a few paragraphs and re-read Jerry's citation from Matthew 22.

One of the all-time great ‘70s Pop/Rock songs is “One Bad Apple”, written by George Jackson and performed as a duet by Donny and Merrill Osmond. The lyrics go: One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl. It’s still true! To be sure, more than one bad apple can be found in the Mormon Church, but their presence there certainly doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. That observation may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t believe in vilifying an entire group of people! As both a Gay man and a Black man, I know what blanket vilification feels like!  It's unfair, to say the least.

There are good-hearted Mormon believers who don't espouse bigotry; I've met some of them. What's more, there are many good things about the Mormon religion and culture (just ask a Gay Mormon). Mormons are survivors! They began as pariahs, but over time managed to win society’s respect. They are a hardy, hard-working lot. They have great appreciation for the Arts. They prepare excellent scalloped potato dishes! They value and celebrate children. The priority Mormons put on family is certainly something our greater society could benefit from.

However, so long as it fails to recognize persons of Gay, Pansexual and Transsexual gender as blessed members of the Christian family, the Mormon faith will fall tragically short of Jesus Christ's example!

Donny Osmond should ask himself why he finds Gay people and their loving relationships so threatening. He should ask himself how Mormons can welcome Gay converts into their fellowship only to treat them as inferior to other members (loving one child more than you love another? That sounds distinctly un-Mormon to me)! He should ask himself which body imposes judgment most fairly: The Church, whose knowledge suffers from human limitations, or the Lord, whose knowledge has no limit? He should also determine what’s most important to him: Being a good Mormon according to church doctrine, or being a good Christian according to the Savior’s teachings?

The question would be just as valid if he were Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, etcetera. There was a difference between Orthodox Law and Divine Law in New Testament times, and there’s still a difference! What blocks the door to a church can pave a path to salvation! Conversely, what shuts the door to salvation can gain you access to a church; but tell me, what good is access to any church if you become cut off from God? Isn't Divine salvation the whole point of being a Christian?

What a tragedy it would be if Donny Osmond or any member of his gifted family dies a good Mormon, only to approach the gates of Heaven and be barred from entry! There surely will be Mormons entering those gates, but will Donny be one of them? At the end of the day, will he choose to be counted among the bad apples or the good ones?