28 January 2014

Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore? (Part One)

Mary Tyler Moore

It's time you started living/
It's time you let someone else do some giving/
Love is all around, no need to waste it/
You can have this town, why don't you take it?/
You might just make it after all.

Excerpt from "Love Is All Around,"
theme song from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
Words and Music by Sonny Curtis.
Copyright 1970 by Mark Three Music (BMI)

Every year around this time, LGBT folk all over the world commemorate the Stonewall rebellion. On 28 June 1969, the patrons of a Greenwich Village Gay bar reacted violently to police harassment. Joined by loiterers outside the bar, they started a riot that lasted for three nights.

At that time, Gay identity was still a criminal offense and heavily stigmatized. Closeted Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transfolk sought fellowship in seedy bars that the police frequently raided. Frequent victims of unfair prosecutions, public humiliation and Bible-based discrimination, they suffered silently, accepting pariah status as their lot in life.

However, by the late '60s, a sense of outrage was manifesting itself. Inspired by the social activism of other minority groups, urban LGBT folk were no longer willing to accept the more blatant forms of heterosexist oppression. Gay Pride was born out of this defiant new attitude! The first Pride parade took place along New York City's Sixth Avenue in late July of '69. They became annual events in New York, and over the next two decades, they spread to major cities around the country, and the world.

Now Gay Pride parades are huge tourist attractions, drawing thousands of spectators in US cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Washington DC, as well as in foreign metropoles like Paris, France, Sydney, Australia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They've evolved into elaborate pageants that culminate in Mardi Gras-style orgies of public revelry. Stars of stage, screen and records serve as grand marshals for them, TV and radio stations cover them as entertainment news, and in some cases, they even receive corporate sponsorship. We've certainly come a long way from the four hundred brave LGBT pioneers who dared to march through the streets of Manhattan singing "We Shall Overcome"!

Lately, though, some LGBT activists and their allies have begun asking whether Pride parades haven't outlasted their usefulness. They question the time and expense lavished on these spectacles. They worry about the wild image these events present of a minority group that increasingly craves mainstream respectability. Most of all, they wonder why we put so much energy into celebrating when our battle for equality hasn't been won. Not only hasn't it been won, it's not even close to being over!

We have so much work left to do! We still can't marry in most places. We still can't adopt children in most places. In some jurisdictions, we're not even allowed to raise our own offspring! We still can't safely express public affection in most places. We still aren't protected from adverse job actions based on sexual orientation. We still aren't protected from co-worker harassment on the job. We still can't serve openly in the military. We still can't join or serve as troop leaders in the Boy Scouts. Most churches still won't let us serve openly as administrators. Some of them will excommunicate us upon discovering our status.

Our history still can't be taught in most schools. Our youth still suffer horrendous bullying in school. Most of us who work in government or in the news and entertainment media are still afraid to leave the closet. Lies and distortions about us are still rampant in the media. Our tax money is used to support "faith-based" organizations that can legally refuse to hire us! Preachers of color are increasingly joining forces with White Fundamentalists to oppose our Rights agenda. Politicians give token attention to our issues (except when they want to whip up a reactionary constituency)!

Worst of all, there've been dozens more hate crimes since Matthew Shepard's death in 1998, both here and abroad. Don't even get me started talking about the international climate for LGBT people! Legal persecution is as bad or worse than it was during the Stonewall era. Recent atrocities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, various African countries, and especially the Caribbean reveal those regions to be stuck firmly in the Dark Ages when it comes to human rights!

I certainly understand why the parades came about. They were an expression of post-Stonewall defiance, and a way to make Gay identity visible to all the homosexual men and women who mistakenly thought they were alone in the world. They were an attempt to cast aside victimizaton, and combat the deep sense of shame we'd internalized for years. They were an exercise in speaking truth to power: The truth of our love! They put the powers-that-be on notice that we were a force to be reckoned with! We were a politicized people crashing through the closet door and demanding our rightful places in society.

On another level, marching in parades was simply an expression of exuberance. Our stated goals were revolutionary and inspiring, we were caught up in the spirit of the Civil Rights and Free Love movements, and we felt newly liberated. Parading was just a natural thing to do! It was our way of throwing our hats in the air, like Mary Tyler Moore in the opening credits of her hit TV series. She became news right around the same time we did.

The "Mary Tyler Moore Show" shut down production thirty years ago, but we're still throwing our hats up in giddy celebration. The gesture has grown stale! The context has changed completely. Has anybody noticed? We've come a long way, baby, and it's not the 1970s anymore. It's 2007, and guess what? Pride parades have become irrelevant to our issues!

"Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore?" 
continues with Part Two.

Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore? (Part Two)

Mary Tyler Moore

Pride Parades no longer serve their original purpose. They're clearly not political statements now. They're nothing but festivals! They feature celebrities and comedians and Pop singers. They provide sales and advertising venues for vendors. They've become little more than excuses for people to dress up in crazy costumes, feed their faces, guzzle beer and gyrate to dance music!

Over the years, they've grown increasingly decadent, too. Today, the typical Gay Pride parade features lots of banners emblazoned with the word "queer", contingents of leather and discipline fetishists in full regalia, drag performers (usually not Transpersons) dressed strictly for flamboyance's sake, sexually suggestive float themes, and frequently, more nudity than can legally be gotten away with! Some parades feature a Lesbian procession billed as a "d*ke march"(sounds similar to a death march, doesn't it? Whenever I hear about this event, I can't help but imagine the Cherokee Trail of Tears)!

Every now and then, you might see a voter registration booth on the sidelines. Overwhelmingly, though, the organizers of Pride celebrations value entertainment over empowerment. Hedonism over activism. Frivolity over profundity. Shock value over shared values! They couldn't care less about stereotypical imagery and behavior. What message are they sending to Straight society? That Gay people are all about parties and sex? Unfortunately, our enemies are sending out the very same message, and it works to their advantage much more than it works to ours!

The current generation of Gay activists doesn't understand that stereotypes are a double-edged sword. Sure, they're entertaining (up to a point), but they also limit the upward mobility of a minority group! They make very powerful first impressions. When we constantly present ourselves as hedonistic and frivolous, guess what? Millions of Americans who know nothing else about us think we're hedonistic and frivolous! What we consider edgy and exciting they often find threatening and contemptible, and they act out those feelings in the most inconvenient places, like the voting booth!

Back in the 1950s and '60s, African-Americans understood the great harm stereotyping can do. They knew better than to embrace negative characterizations at the same time they were fighting a battle for equality! Do you think they'd have tolerated a Black equivalent of "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy", "The L Word" or "Queer As Folk"? Get real! They wouldn't have, and they didn't. Organizations like the NAACP attacked demeaning images of Black women and men wherever they found them. They successfully drove stereotypical comedies like "Amos And Andy" off the networks, and demanded more dignified TV portrayals.

Half a century later, some people argue that those shows don't look so bad in retrospect. What they fail to consider is the historical context! Fifty years ago, African-Americans were legally segregated, systematically discriminated against, and lynched with shocking regularity. All the while, White Americans viewed them as sources for amusement. They laughed at rampant media images of grinning Uncle Toms, folksy Aunt Jemimahs, and lazy, irresponsible n'er-do-wells. Neither the Black community nor its entitlements of citizenship were taken seriously. The situation was very similar to what LGBT Americans face now!

Oh, I can hear some of you squealing like stuck pigs! Political correctness sucks, you fume. Free expression rocks! Freedom of expression is an important thing to have, but having dignity is important, too! Sometimes, you have to forego one to achieve the other. Sometimes, you need to command respect!

We haven't learned how to prioritize! Do we want to better our standing in society or not? Do we want to be taken seriously or not? If you want to get a good job, you don't go to the interview dressed in your damn jogging clothes! If you want to win concessions from a Conservative power structure, you don't present your list of demands wearing fishnet stockings and a spiked dog collar!

Flying "We're Here, We're Queer" banners and marching down the street in jock straps and Carmen Miranda costumes doesn't exactly encourage the establishment to take us seriously. On the contrary, it sets us up for ridicule! It makes ignoring our issues that much easier to do. With proper manipulation by Right Wing propagandists, those silly scenes also make it easy to paint us as social anarchists.

Grow up, already, Gay people! Don't come whining to me about "political correctness"! When you're about the business of challenging a discriminatory status quo, your politics had damn well better be correct! Frankly, feeding the opposition language and imagery they can use against you amounts to giving Gay bashers baseball bats to beat you with!

Am I suggesting that we do away with Pride celebrations? No. I'm suggesting that we revamp them for the 21st century. Gay people can get together and be festive any time they want to. There's nothing wrong with having parties, but partying shouldn't be the focus of our Stonewall commemorations. After all, Stonewall wasn't a party! It was the beginning of a revolution! We've got to revive that activist, consciousness-raising spirit of the early marches. We need to remember that our movement is about social justice. We've got to get the fire back in our bellies!

We also need to polish our public image. As I stated in my previous post, "Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil," there's still far too much ignorance about us in the world! We can help change that situation if we shift the focus of Pride observances from celebration to education.

What if we stopped taking over city streets and public parks for parades and parties, and instead started convening day-long seminars at colleges, community centers and welcoming churches? What if we exchanged the comedians, drag artists and Disco divas for scholars, doctors, lawyers and clergymen, all committed to the cause of LGBT empowerment? Why not turn our Gay Pride observances into teaching tools?

"Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore?" 
continues with Part Three.

Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore? (Part Three)

Mary Tyler Moore

The seminars could be divided up into any number of educational components. Here are fifteen potential topics and two suggestions for forums. Each seminar need not include every topic; components could vary from year to year.

History Component: Presentations on the history of Gay Rights activism in the Western world, and discussion of what direction our activism should take in the future.

Science Component: Exploration of current scientific research into findings about the nature of LGBT identity. Presentation of evidence refuting the notions that gender is binary and that human beings can choose their sexual orientation.

International Component: Presentations on the repression LGBT people suffer outside the USA, and discussion of how to best combat injustice in non-Western countries and cultures.

Legal Component: Discussion of legal issues pertinent to LGBT folk. Identification of areas where class action lawsuits might be useful. Resource linkage.

Physical Health Component: Identification and discussion of physical health needs specific to Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons. Resource linkage. Could be split into gender-based subcomponents.

Psychological Health Component: Identification of mental health needs specific to Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons, with special emphasis on traumatization and internalized shame. Discussion of how and why LGBT folk internalize shame. Targeting of shame-based behavior. Resource linkage.

Youth Component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to LGBT children and teenagers, with special emphasis on hostile school environments. Resource linkage.

Senior component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to LGBT elders, with special emphasis on social networks, health issues and retirement options. Resource linkage.

Marriage Component: Presentations on the planning and execution of Lesbian and Gay weddings, Holy Unions and civil unions, and discussion of issues pertinent to married couples. Discussion about the dynamics of long-term same-gender partnerships. Resource linkage.

Parenting Component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to Lesbian and Gay parents.

Religious Component: Identification and discussion of specific challenges facing Gay Christians, Muslims, Jews and others, and how best to respond to them. Facilitation of direct action tactics. Deconstruction of Right Wing theology.

Integrity Component: Debate about the wisdom or folly of maintaining the collective closet from an activist point of view. Discussions may involve identification of closeted LGBT individuals in positions of power and influence!

Political Component: A vehicle for communication between Gay leadership and grass roots activists. Identification of local and national social justice priorities. Discussion of strategies for pursuing them. Faciliation of direct action tactics. Resource linkage.

Media Component: Identification of anti-Gay propaganda sources in local and national media. Discussion of strategies for combating them. Facilitation of direct action tactics. Would include a mandate to revive the Fairness Doctrine in Federal Communications law, which would require broadcasters to give us equal on-air time with our demonizers!

Military Component: Identification of needs and concerns specific to LGBT veterans and enlisted personnel. Discussion of strategies for stopping unjust discharges and abolishing the US military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy. Resource linkage. Long overdue honors ceremonies for Gay veterans!

Since people do get hungry at events like this, the seminars would need to take a mid-day break for food and (non-alcoholic!) refreshments, hopefully provided by LGBT caterers. Music should be a part of the seminars, too, but not the stuff we hear on the radio and in dance clubs. One of the educational forums would feature presentations by Lesbian and Gay musicians. Have you ever heard of Ari Gold? How about Jason and DeMarco? Mark Weigle? Nedra Johnson? Chely Wright? Surely you know who Lesley Gore is?

There are a lot of openly LesBiGay singer/songwriters now, many of whom perform material with same-gender loving lyrics. They play and sing every commercial genre: Folk/World Music, Broadway, Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Disco/Dance, Latin Pop, Classical, Country, Electronica, even religious music! It's not just about "women's music" anymore. However, since mainstream labels rarely sign or promote these artists, they have a tough time getting heard. Pride celebrations could finally become the venues for them they always should've been!

Finally, there should be a forum that's open to hatemongers. No, I haven't lost my friggin' mind! Bigots will surely try to infiltrate events like this anyway, so why not anticipate them? Why not provide an outlet for them that we control? Choose a Gay-related topic for debate, invite a group of religious Right Wingers, and put them on a panel with a group of Gay-affirming clergy. Have someone serve as moderator who won't tolerate factual distortion, ad hominem attacks or deviation from the topic.

That's not enough, though! The organizers of this forum need to make sure the Progressive debaters come prepared to do battle! Too many times, I've seen would-be Gay advocates crash and burn in confrontations with reactionary preachers. They underestimate the verbal prowess of their opponents and overestimate their own! They bring no talking points, have no debate strategy, and are easily led astray by irrelevant rhetoric.

Some even have poor knowledge of Scripture! Others are apologists for every harsh passage found in the Bible. Still others are more concerned with reconciling doctrinal adversaries than condemning religious bigotry. Screen out these tenderfoot types! Kick their asses to the curb!  Let them stammer and back-pedal in some other forum. Give the spectators a war of words where the two sides are at least equally matched. Then, prepare to be amazed as you watch credibility return to these kinds of exchanges!

"Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore" 
concludes with Part Four.

Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore? (Part Four)

Mary Tyler Moore

Naturally, these seminars would be open to the general public. Just imagine what a different impression Straight people would get of us! Instead of flamboyant revelers, they'd see serious people, concerned about their history, their future, their health, their families, their military veterans, and their access to societal institutions. They'd learn more about us than they ever could watching us flash bare nipples, pierced penises and tattooed butt cheeks! They'd discover that we're not carnival freaks or sex-obsessed anarchists. They'd come to know that we're life partners, fathers, mothers, children, grandparents, taxpayers, voters, soldiers and people of faith. They'd understand that Gay identity has depth.

After a few years of these kinds of events, I think the public would begin to view us in an entirely different light. I believe this would result in them treating us in an entirely different way. I also believe an emphasis on education would radically change the way we think about ourselves! However, I'm aware that some LGBT folk have a concept of Gay identity that's already as radical as it can get, and nothing's ever going to change their minds.

Sooner or later, there'll have to be a split in the Gay Rights movement! It's time to admit that there are some in our ranks who aren't committed to achieving equality and never will be. Just like our adversaries, they believe being Gay, Pansexual or Transsexual is all about sex, and the kinkier it is, the better! They use the movement as a vehicle for their pursuit of decadence! They scorn anything that even looks like mainstream values.

They couldn't care less about marriage equality! Big friggin' deal about open service in the US military! Who needs legal adoption and parenting protections? It isn't even important to these "activists" that we be open and honest about our status. Closetedness is a just another way to be "queer", after all, and it's only about the kind of sex you enjoy, isn't it? Therefore, hiding your gender-neutral status in the closet should be respected like any other "lifestyle choice." Never mind that it's the antithesis of pride!

In order to appear politically sophisticated, these jokers write up and sign supremely pompous documents like the "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage" Manifesto . . .


. . . radical Left-Wing screeds which absurdly pit marriage equality and other Gay Rights goals against the need to address societal problems like poverty, inadequate health care and exploitation of illegal immigrants! Self-identified "radical queers" mirror our Fundamentalist enemies by seeking to wall off LGBT folk from their citizenship rights and their faith! They tend to "combat" religious fascism by flashing the rude middle finger and shouting obscenities at Bible bigots (usually far from view and earshot).  As a group, they've got about as much maturity as a bunch of college frat boys running wild in a beer garden! The festival atmosphere of Pride parades is pretty much all they're suited for.

We'll never be able to make that "queer" contingent disappear. However, we can reject their sex-intensive concept of Gay identity, their reactionary language, and their impotent politics!  We can snatch the helm of our movement out of their fumbling hands and steer it back in the right direction! The struggle that Stonewall launched will soon be forty years old. WTF are we waiting for? It's high time those of us who are serious about Civil Rights really got down to business. The first order of business should be eradicating ignorance about LGBT people! Education-oriented celebrations would be a great way to start.

Now, I'm not so naïve as to think such a fundamental change could happen overnight. First, influential Gay people would have to agree among themselves that it's a good idea (groan . . . that alone could take a minute or two, or three)! Then, a groundswell of support for the revamping of Pride would have to develop. Then, the logistics of staging nationwide Pride seminars would need to be worked out. Next would come fund-raising to cover the costs of publicity, catering, travel expenses, etcetera. There are many potential obstacles, but with determination, they could be overcome. They must be overcome! That's the only way we can overcome.

It's unthinkable that we should stop moving forward as a people.  It's totally unacceptable! I don't want history to show that our march to equality got sidetracked onto a dead end road. I don't want us to be like poor Mary Tyler Moore, stuck flinging that damn hat in the air over and over again in a perpetuity of syndicated TV reruns. I want us to make it . . . after all.


This essay is dedicated to the memory of  
folksinger and social activist par excellence
Pete Seeger.
Originally published in June of 2007.

15 January 2014

The First Holy Union (Part One)

JOHN 7: 24
(Jesus Christ said) "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

Sprinkled throughout the New Testament Gospels are little bits of wisdom from the Savior. At first glance, they don't appear pertinent to a discussion of Gay identity, but with closer examination, you discover otherwise. The one referenced above is perhaps more pertinent than any other!

In my essay titled "The Book Of Punishment," I explained why Levitican laws from the Old Testament don't apply to modern society. In summary, I used Scripture itself to prove that those restrictions only applied to the ancient Israelites. Regardless of time frame, a prohibition from God against "males lying with males as with females" could never have been addressed to homosexual men; if there's one thing I'm absolutely convinced of, it's that the Lord sees Lesbians and Gay men differently than the world sees us! In this new essay, I'll explain why I feel that way, and I'll also fulfill a promise I made a long time ago to change the way you think about so-called Gay marriage.

I'm going to talk here about the mystery of the Beloved Disciple. Most mainstream Christian theologians accept the Biblical assertion that one of Jesus Christ's followers became especially dear to Him. Actually, Scripture indicates that there were several He had special regard for. Simon Peter and the brothers James and John formed an inner circle that the Savior often counseled privately with. Clearly, Simon Peter was particularly close to Him; this is obvious from their frequent exchanges. Peter wasn't the Beloved Disciple, though.

Based on my reading of Scripture, I believe there were two people who deserved that title. One of them was female, and the other, male. The woman was undoubtedly Mary of Magdala, whom the Savior loved as a daughter and a protegée. The man is widely believed to have been the Apostle John. Only in the Gospel of John does Scripture speak explicitly of a beloved male disciple. That book's author and narrator claims that he himself is the disciple in question, and as its title indicates, ancient theologians attributed its authorship to John.

However, modern scholars tend not to agree. They believe this Gospel was written by an acolyte of the Apostle John. Who might it have been? Some scholars point to Lazarus, the young man Jesus Christ raised from the dead. Consider this passage from the eleventh chapter of John:

JOHN 11: 1 - 3

Now a certain man was ill: (It was) Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus: "Lord, He whom you love is ill."

Others point to the rich man spoken of in several New Testament Gospels whose great wealth threatened to become a stumbling block to his Divine salvation:

MARK 10: 17 - 22

As (Jesus Christ) was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" . . . Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me." When he heard this, (the man) was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Still others point to the mysterious young man who was present in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus Christ was arrested by Roman soldiers:

MARK 14: 51, 52

A certain young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They (the soldiers) caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

There are even scholars who assign the Beloved Disciple's identity to Judas Iscariot! This dubious conclusion is based on their study of a recently-unearthed version of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas. I concur with the majority of theologians who have denounced this Judas narrative as bogus; I've read the text, and its portrayal of Jesus Christ and His apostles rings completely false!

What's more, there's nary a hint of a romantic connection between the Savior and Judas Iscariot; I find no justification for claiming their relationship was an intimate one. On the other hand, such hints can be found in the Gospel of John. Here's the one that's probably been cited most often down through the centuries; it comes from passages dealing with the Last Supper:

JOHN 13: 21-25

After saying this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared: "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me!" The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He was speaking. One of His disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Him. Simon therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom He was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked Him: "Lord, who is it?"

Earlier translations of this segment substituted the phrase lying in the bosom of for reclining next to. The implication was unmistakably one of physical intimacy. These verses are primarily responsible for the controversial yet persistent belief among some Bible scholars that the Christ's regard for His beloved male disciple was romantic in nature. It's an "underground" doctrine that dates at least as far back as the Middle Ages: There exists a wooden statuette dating from the 14th century which depicts Jesus Christ and the Apostle John holding hands like sweethearts (although, disturbingly, the sculptor erroneously rendered the Apostle as a young boy, implying that the Messiah indulged in pederasty)!

It's interesting to note that the Secret Book of John states that the Apostle was not a member of the "Unshakeable Generation", a designation used in some Gnostic scripture that I believe refers to LGBT folk. This would seem to support the view of those who doubt that John was the male beloved. However, I don't feel the disciple's sexual orientation is relevant to this discussion. I don't believe that Jesus Christ slept with with either one of His beloved disciples, so I have no trouble imagining the Savior in a platonic, romantic friendship with a heterosexual man.

Nowadays, an alarmingly large number of people believe that the Christ was married to Mary of Magdala. I'm not one of them! I've read numerous Gnostic Gospels (including the voluminous Pistis Sophia, in which Mary of Magdala plays a prominent role) in addition to those in the New Testament, and none of them supports this idea. In the Gospel of Philip, she is called the Savior's companion, and it's implied that she won this status because of her great wisdom. Granted, the word "companion" can sometimes have romantic connotations, but to my knowledge, it's never been synonymous with "wife"!

If Mary Magdalene had been the Savior's spouse, there's no reason why recorded history wouldn't say so! After all, it was, and still is the custom for Jewish Rabbis to wed, and heterosexual wedlock has never been regarded as shameful. I believe that the Christ was homosexual and celibate in His human form, but I'm not locked into that belief; if it could be proven that He had loved and wed a woman, I could accept it! I'm not hostile to the concept of a married Messiah.

Yet my reading of the Gospels indicates that the Savior couldn't possibly have married Mary Magdalene or anyone else, for that matter. Why? Because from the time He arrived on Earth, Jesus Christ was already betrothed! In the Gospel of Mark, He acknowledges this fact:

MARK 2: 18-20

Now (John the Baptist's) disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and people came and said to Him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the Bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day."

Speaking to his own disciples, John the Baptist also spoke of the Christ as one betrothed:

JOHN 3: 28, 29

"You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Messiah', but I have been sent ahead of Him. He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom. The friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom's voice."

These passages may have led some people to speculate that Mary Magdalene was the Bride of the Messiah, but I assure you, she wasn't. In the book of Revelations, the identity of Jesus Christ's Bride is revealed:

REVELATIONS 21: 9, 10

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Wife of the Lamb (Jesus Christ)." And in the spirit, he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the Holy City of Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God.

"The First Holy Union" continues with Part Two.

The First Holy Union (Part Two)

After His Second Coming, the Savior will join in spiritual marriage with all the human souls which have been saved (AKA the new city of Jerusalem). Therefore, I contend that earthly marriage was impossible for Him. For Jesus Christ to wed would've been something akin to an adulterous act! What's more, it would've been at the very least inconsiderate to take a wife, knowing that her wedded bliss would soon be cut short by your crucifixion!

So it's highly unlikely that the Christ married, but the Gospel of John suggests that He did fall in love. The object of His love was apparently male. We'll never know for sure if it was the Apostle John, or Lazarus, or another man whose identity was deliberately concealed. What we do know for sure is that the Messiah's bond with this man was so incredibly strong, He was moved to seal it as even as he writhed on the cross in His death throes! With his aunt and Mary Magdalene as witnesses, He performed an impromptu ceremony that was conceivably as close to marriage as He could have come:

JOHN 19: 26, 27

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing beside her, He said to His mother: "Woman, here is your son." Then He said to the disciple, "Here is your mother!" And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own home.

What I've already said here will be objectionable to any Bible Fundamentalist who reads this blog. What I'm about to say will offend many liberal Christians, too: I don't believe marriage is truly possible between two Gay men or two Lesbians! I doubt that it's possible for a reason similar to the reason I believe Jesus Christ couldn't marry: We are already married!

As crazy as it sounds, I'm persuaded that it's marriage, spiritual marriage, that makes us who we are. Here, again, is the amazing explanation from Gnostic scripture for how LGBT babies are created; I first quoted this passage in my essay titled "Why Gay People Exist, Part Three":

GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF PHILIP

Unclean spirits are male and female in form. Males have sex with souls that are female in form, and females cavort promiscuously with souls that are male in form. Souls cannot escape them if the spirits seize them, unless they receive the male or female power of the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) and the Bride (Jerusalem). These are received from the mirrored Bridal Chamber (a special kind of ovum). When foolish females see a man by himself, they jump on him, fondle him and pollute him. Likewise, when foolish males see a beautiful woman by herself, they seduce and violate her . . . but when they see a husband and wife together, the females cannot make advances on the man, and the males cannot make advances on the woman . . . if the image (of God) and the angel are joined, none can dare to make advances on the male or the female.

This passage isn't easy to interpret, but I believe God has enabled me to understand it: The reference to "a husband and wife together" refers to an androgynous soul. According to this text, heterosexual males and females can't seduce a human being who possesses this kind of soul, because he or she lacks heterosexual desire.

What makes that happen? It's the "female power" that keeps the Gay man "faithful" to it, and the "male power" that likewise compels sexual fidelity in the Lesbian. In other words, there's only one heterosexual relationship that feels natural to homosexual men and women, and that's the one that exists inside of us. We're not even conscious of it, but it seems to manifest itself sometimes via the "butch" and "femme" mannerisms we're widely known for.

So, from a Gnostic standpoint, homosexuality must be understood as a kind of wedded state! Heterosexual babies don't undergo this process, so they come into the world as spiritual "bachelors." If what the Gospel of Philip says is true, then Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) joins the male and female components of LGBT souls at conception. This means we resemble the image of God more closely than other human beings do (reference Genesis 1:27, translated from the Hebrew manuscript: So God created Adam in His image, in the image of God He created Him, male and female He created Him).

However, that certainly doesn't mean we're clones of the Christ! He was perfect in His human form. We're not! Being imperfect, we have sexual desire that must be expressed. The "married" state of our souls strongly discourages heterosexual coupling, but all human beings need intimacy, and through the grace of God, we're directed to seek it with our own kind. That may explain why many of us have this uncanny ability to recognize one another (the phenomenon some people call "Gaydar").

My personal convictions about Gay identity come from numerous sources of information, but I must admit, I do believe the gist of what the Gospel of Philip says about it! The outside world calls our love "homosexuality", but I think that's a misnomer. Our blended genders make us something other than what our genitalia indicates we are, and that's why the Christ's warning against judging by appearances is so relevant to our experience! The Gnostics attributed the following quote to Jesus Christ:

GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF THOMAS(RECONSTRUCTED SCRIPTURE)

. . . when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female . . . then you will enter the kingdom (of Heaven).

Gnostic texts like this one suggest that we're not only closer to God in image, we're also closer to Heaven in spirit! What appears to be same-gender attraction is really something far more complex that only our Creator is fully equipped to understand. (To learn the Gnostic explanation for why God creates androgynous human beings, read my posts titled "We Are Family, Parts One, Two and Three.")

By now, some of you must be thinking: Here's another one of these Bible terrorists who uses Scripture to justify civil marriage discrimination! If that's what you're thinking, then you can't have been reading this blog for very long. I don't consider the Bible or any other Christian text to be the direct word of God! Scripture is mankind's heavily-edited interpretation of God's word. The Bible doesn't have all the answers! More often than not, we must seek answers directly from the Lord.

He's not closed up inside of a book! He's active in our lives, and if we listen for His voice, He will speak to us! If we ask Him for guidance, He will give it to us. I've asked for guidance on the issue of marriage, and little by little, God is revealing His will to me.

I think the Holy Mother/Father is using the marriage issue to test humanity on its commitment to fairness and justice. I feel strongly that the Lord wants homosexual love to be formally recognized, and not just with civil ceremonies: We should be allowed to declare our love before friends and family in a church setting! We're people, and science has proven that people are healthier and happier when they take life partners. Why should this route to greater health and happiness be closed to us? Why should we be punished for our God-given sexual orientation? Why should we be denied the legal benefits that accrue to heterosexual couples and their children?

If Lesbian and Gay couples weren't meant to set up households together and enjoy long-term relationships, believe me, it wouldn't happen! Society certainly does all it can do to prevent that from happening. Yet, God makes possible loving unions between two men and between two women that last fifty years or more! I consider such unions miraculous, and there's no such thing as a miracle that doesn't come from the Lord!

We're so blessed to be living in this enlightened time and place: The superstition and bigotry that dogged our predecessors still exists, but it has diminished to an astonishing degree. We are among the first generations of androgynous human beings to realize that we don't have to live as sexual outlaws. Instead, we can be openly Gay or Lesbian or Pansexual and still be respected members of our communities.

It may be true that LGBT individuals are the product of a spiritual marriage made in Heaven. It may also be true that, in God's eyes, true marriage can only occur between heterosexual men and women; but neither possibility justifies consigning Gay relationships to a state of permanent illegitimacy! That's just cruel, and there's no place for cruelty in the Christian faith.

In my opinion, "Civil Union" and "Holy Union" are the proper terms to use when two androgynous souls are bonded. I don't believe Lesbian and Gay commitment ceremonies should be called "marriage," but is it a sin to use incorrect terminology? Of course it isn't! When our heterosexual brethren pass constitutional amendments that deprive our families of legal recognition, that's a sin! They're violating God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (not to mention His prohibition against bearing false witness! Most of these amendments coast to victory on a carpet of lies about homosexuality)!

If calling Lesbian and Gay unions "marriage" is what it takes for us to be treated equally under the law, then by all means, let it be called marriage! The exclusionary status quo offers us stigma and shame. Legalized matrimony offers us stability and respectability. It affords us the same method of channeling carnal urges that heterosexual folk have, and we need that. Regardless of his ideological bent, any honest clergyman will admit that it pleases the Lord when His children strive to apply moral standards in their lives. That's exactly what modern Lesbians and Gay men are doing when they petition the courts for the right to marry. God bless their efforts, and shame on anyone who would try to stop them!

My support for marriage equality is absolutely unequivocal! However, I acknowledge the fact that many religious people, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, are convinced that God's Law forbids two Gay men or two Lesbians from exchanging wedding vows. For that reason, they oppose observing such rituals inside a church. Here's an alternative Holy Union ceremony for such people to consider:

Woman, here is your son. Son, here is your mother.

Man, here is your son. Son, here is your father.

OR

Woman, here is your daughter. Daughter, here is your mother.

Man, here is your daughter. Daughter, here is your father.

The first Holy Union was performed by the Savior between His mother, the Virgin Mary, and the man He loved during His final moments on Earth. What a beautiful gesture that was, and what a powerful validation of same-gender love! Wouldn't it be wonderful if all Holy Union services were modeled after that first one?

Wouldn't it be excellent if, whenever possible, parents were an integral part of Gay commitment ceremonies? Wouldn't it put the lie to the religious Right Wing's claims that our relationships threaten the family? Wouldn't it bring Holy Unions into accordance with Bible scripture? And wouldn't it be glorious for those of us who are Christian to commemorate Jesus Christ and His Beloved Disciple in this way? Maybe I'm just indulging in wishful thinking . . . but it is something worth thinking about, isn't it?

Originally published at Christmas of 2006.