Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gene Robinson Gives Me The Words I Need

I had every intention of blogging regularly, of documenting and sharing this part of our journey out of the closet and into the next phase of life. But, like I'm sure so many others have experienced, I just didn't find my way back here. I've had so many posts drafted in my head, but they never found their way to the keyboard. Oh well... nothing to do but move forward. The past few months have been in many ways far easier and more liberating than I ever dared hope that coming out of the closet would be. I'm still not as open about my life as I'd like to be, but I can see myself getting closer. 

When I heard about the new LDS church website, I really wanted to be optimistic. But, as I actually watched the videos and read the text, I just felt angry. I couldn't stop feeling like the tone was condescending and actually dehumanizing. I couldn't find the words to explain why I felt that way, and I started to wonder if I was just being a grinch. I've read others' perspectives, like the Crazy Mormon, which expressed the thoughts I couldn't and helped me find the words for the frustration this website evoked. But I think the best summary of the inherent discrimination repeated throughout this website is explained by Gene Robinson in his book God Believes in Love (which everyone needs to read!):

"It is interesting to see conservative religious leaders and followers... attempt to take "higher" ground and to sound both sympathetic and reasonable in asserting, 'Well, there's nothing wrong with being gay, as long as you never indulge yourself in this horrific and God-condemned drug of choice.' Initially, this sounds so much kinder and gentler than outright condemnation of being gay. But when analyzed more closely it is hardly a step forward. Such 'compassionate conservatism' has only been the reluctantly offered attitude when outright rejection of a beloved son or daughter or fellow church member has seemed too cruel. For countless centuries, outright rejection has been the order of the day." (pp. 38-39) 

There is one statement made on the website that has been running through my head for weeks. In an effort to show how members of the church can still love gays and lesbians in their life, Greg argues that ones sexuality is actually such a small sliver of what it means to be human that it's hardly worth talking about. I'm exaggerating, of course. What he actually says is, "I think it is always useful to the process of creating dialogue to understand that homosexuality, that may be such a huge part of how we perceive that person, in reality is just a minor part... it seems to me like if this represents a person's entire personality, all of who and what they are, that their sexuality, whether it's homosexuality or heterosexuality, is just a small little slice of that bigger pie. We've got to keep that in perspective and say look, I can love this person, I can relate with this person..." Hearing this statement upset me on such a deep level that I was frankly shocked by my own response. Every time I saw a status update on Facebook celebrating an anniversary, every time someone mentioned the cute thing their child just did, or the sweet present that their husband gave them I wanted to shout at them "HOW DARE YOU FLAUNT YOUR HETEROSEXUALITY!" It just doesn't seem like a "small slice" of people's lives.

So, when I kept reading in Robinson's book and heard him discuss the same phenomenon, I felt like a bobble head nodding my agreement. He expresses it so much better than I can: "Some 'tolerant' people might even say, in exasperation, 'I know you are gay, but do you have to keep rubbing it in my face? Stop flaunting it!' Such sentiments mark only a slight improvement over outright intolerance. Now, to be sure, tolerance is preferable to intolerance, and a 'let it be' attitude is certainly much better than violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. But it's not much of an improvement. To someone like me, on the receiving end of this kind of 'tolerance,' it still feels abusive and life denying and not a lot different from outright disdain. Perhaps that seems unfair and small-minded to those who say these things, but most gay and lesbian people I know are not willing to live happily with that more subtle form of heterosexism."

Preach on, brother!  THAT is what bothers me most about the new LDS website, and THAT is what I can't stomach any more of.


1 comment:

  1. Oh my heck, amen! It was the constantly "flaunted" heterosexuality that finally clued me in to what exactly I was expected to miss as a gay member of the Church and to think seriously about whether I really agreed to that.