Saturday, November 07, 2009

ELCA Homophobia, and Why I'm Done Arguing

While homophobia is something that we gay folks live with on a day-to-day basis, at least in my everyday life it tends to operate in the background, like a buzzing fluorescent light -- if you pay attention to it, it can become quite disconcerting, but if you can focus your attention elsewhere you don't notice it as much.

Every so often, though, the buzz not only buzzes but shocks me.

I hang out on the ELCA Facebook page. They do a splendid job with it; every day they post a question for "fans," or a Scripture verse or other message generating discussion. Most of the frequent fliers there seem like nice people, and I've even "friended" a couple of them.

The Troubles, though, bring out the homophobes, wrapped in Luther Rose banners and waving Bibles. I have trained myself to largely ignore these people and pay instead pay attention to the good discussions on that page. But yesterday, as the dead horse of CWA was being whipped further, one individual whose presence on the forum is largely limited to carcass-banging opined that same-sex couples hurt others -- therefore disqualifying their monogamous committed relationships as holy ones and making their legal status as families undesireable -- because our rate of STDs cost society money in healthcare costs.

This comment was so breathtaking in its hatred and stupidity that I had to break my silence -- not to argue with him, but to bear witness that his comments were both hurtful and slanderous, as well as personally insulting. But I left it at that, recusing myself from further comment. Sandal, dust, shake, move on.

This is why I am not going to go racing off to the CDC webpage to look up relative demographic rates of STDs, or wonder if the same rationale should be used to deny fat, inactive, substance-abusing people protections under the law: This indivdual wouldn't pay attention to me if I did. Because I am a gay woman -- two strikes right there -- I'm sure all this person sees when he sees my posts is the fuzzy part of an eye exam. If we were in a room and I were speaking, all he'd hear is wonk-wonk-wonk, like the Peanuts gang listening to adults.

This morning I was reading the "time travel" retrospective feature of the New York Times, from I think the year 1907, talking about the increased momentum for women's suffrage thanks to the support of wealthy and socially influential women. The thing is, though -- women's suffrage would never come to be if the discussion hadn't moved into all-male halls of power, with a tipping-point of influential men finally creating a cultural and intellectual environment where it became desireably progressive to support the vote for women. In the end, it was peer pressure that made all the difference.

And that's the way, I think, it's always been in matters of civil rights: Minorities can't rely on themselves alone to secure their rights. They have to wait for the development of critical mass on the majority side to effect change.

That is, frankly, not a comfortable place to be -- at the mercy of others. I don't like it. I don't want to think that my fate as a citizen or as an ELCA Lutheran is so dependent upon sympatico Sincere Bible Study Guys (and Gals, although not to the same extent, it seems)  winning over that bloc of recalcitrant peers. But that's reality.

I notice that someone called out the STD guy on the ELCA Facebook discussion. (Who responded, predictably, by complaining that his "bound conscience" is not being respected) . I am grateful for the support. But I'm not going to participate in that discussion further. All I can do is tell my own and my family's story when I can, in media like this blog, and trust in my heterosexual friends' ability to somehow translate that experience  in ways that their friends will understand, because -- unlike me -- the friends will listen to them.


toujoursdan said...

Hang in there.

As you know we had some mind blowing nastiness on the internet forums after V Gene Robinson was elected. I struggled with exactly the same thing you discuss here, and thought about bolting church to the safety of secular society on more than a few occasions.

But yesterday I had to delete a favourite gay blog from my roll because it became way too toxic on the subject of religion. When I attempted to bear witness that the comments made even about gay and liberal Christians were hurtful and slanderous as well as personally insulting, I was reminded that I must be intellectually disabled, morally questionable and aiding the enemy because I embrace "superstition". I was told in no uncertain terms that nothing I had to say was worthy of consideration because I am "one of them".

I don't know if it's just a matter of minorities that suffer through insults waiting for the critical mass to change. I think its a struggle for every person of conscience and goodwill. It's human nature to demonize the other and we have to keep fighting against that.

PamBG said...

I'd be interested in hearing views from LGBT Christians as to how you think your heterosexual Christian supporters could operate best on a "political" level (I'm talking church politics, broadly defined) for you. I often feel that trying to be supportive of LGBT people I don't know personally is like the person who jumps in and insists "I know how you feel". I *don't* know how you feel, but Christian homophobia makes my blood boil too. Sometimes it feels a bit like "the support that dares not speak it's support" - either to LGBT Christians or those who oppose you.

Maybe thoughts for a different post by someone?

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Your last point is really excellent. My husband has always been against sarcasm and put downs. We've been watching MSNBC in the evenings sometimes, as we mostly agree with the political slant, but he said, "You know, they'd be more effective if they didn't adopt the same tone as the other side takes." He felt the same way when I showed him the blog about Margaret and Helen.

A person can be right on but miss the mark through purposeful nastyness. And, of course, there is ignorant nastyness as well. Not sure if Foxnews is mostly purposeful or ignorant.

To be somewhat charitible, I'd guess that most critics of any social movement start out both scared and ignorant. f

seethroughfaith said...

"They have to wait for the development of critical mass on the majority side to effect change.

That is, frankly, not a comfortable place to be -- at the mercy of others. I don't like it. I don't want to think that my fate as a citizen or as an ELCA Lutheran is so dependent upon sympatico Sincere Bible Study Guys (and Gals, although not to the same extent, it seems) winning over that bloc of recalcitrant peers. But that's reality."

LutheranChik I hear you on this. I think it's always scary to wait on God working THROUGH other people. Hardest thing I know ...

Rev Scott said...

I agree with you about the critical mass required, but I also want you to know that without the faithful witness of strong, mature, courageous folks like yourself, nothing would ever change. I am one whose mind was changed over the past five years, not because more straight folks came over, but because I 'met' and came to know folks like you, LC. Thank you for your courage and the depth of your faith. I'm ashamed it has taken us so long to have even come as far as we have, but I hope that as we sort out the future, the discomfort and outright discrimination continues to shrink away from the light of Christ's love.

Diane said...

I want to echo what Scott is saying, LC, it's people like you and my Episcopalian friend Lindy, and other friends who have helped me gain more courage. yet, I still struggle over exactly what to say sometimes.

Beach Walkin said...

Not too long ago my husband wrote this:

"We continue to hate, separate, argue, hurt......One thing that I think Dylan (Bob Dylan's song Blowin in the Wind) may have been aluding to in his strong comments about the wind... sound... words... turning into the wind....setting our face to the wind.....means for me, accepting the premise of the question, acknowledging that something is amiss. Knowledge is power, words are the vehicle by which we transmit, exchange, pass on that knowlege.

The question remains will we turn to face the wind, will we admit our mistakes, will we accept and act, will we pass on wisdom and love. Our time here on this earth is uncertain and finite. So how long will we wait. We are the imprisoned, and we possess the key.......How long......."

I keep praying that as the ELCA... as the church... we can soon... realize that the key is loving others as God loves us. (((((LC))))))