I was on a hot date. A few nights ago, a charming gentleman invited me to dinner at one of Sydney’s finest restaurants. Not only was he a solid 10, he was intelligent, cultured and witty. Although that didn’t last long. Upon hearing that I was a Christian, his jaw dropped, and his fork crashed to the table, its clink resonated through the whole restaurant. He quickly paid the bill and we went our separate ways.
There’s no shortage of idiots in this world. Let’s face it, between Reverend and politician Fred Nile’s purported loathsome comments of homosexuality being “immoral, unnatural and abnormal” and Archbishop Jensen’s laughable assertions that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” disease – it’s enough to make you think the entirety of Christendom is against you!
Then it clicked: these words weren’t just a one-off example of the bigotry plaguing Christian circles. It was the latest symptom of it. In fact, exposure to subtle and covert anti-LGBTI sentiments begins in the formative years of primary schooling. Not only were we repeatedly told that it was ‘unnatural’ to love a person of the same sex – but our Christian Studies teacher used such choice adjectives as ‘disgusting’ and ‘heinous’ (I chuckled at the similarity with ‘anus’) to articulate his point. Coincidentally, he turned out to be an exorcist. But that’s another story.
Don’t shed a tear for me, but recognise nevertheless that the realisation that, supposedly, your God had abandoned you was a hard one to come to terms with – particularly at the impressionable age of 16. It’s hardly surprising that SameSame.com revealed, in their Wear It Purple campaign, that around 30% of gay Australian teenagers will attempt suicide.
Hold your horses. Before we beat on the Christians, let’s take a look at ourselves. I recently attended a rally for Marriage Equality at Town Hall and was proudly waving the rainbow flag above…until a speaker at the event lumped in ‘bigots’, ‘homophobes’ and ‘Christians’ into the same basket. One could have been mistaken in thinking they had stumbled on an anti-Christian rally rather then one demonstrating solidarity with progressive social policy.
As a Christian, I again found myself alienated by the very same community in which I found my greatest support. While the Westboro Baptist Church will forever remain a skid mark on the moral fabric of society, we definitely aren’t doing ourselves any favours in ostracising Christians in the LGBTI community.
This very same sentiment is, on a regular basis, echoed in conversation with my friends in the LGBTI community, who are gob-smacked that I go to ARQ on a Saturday, and Youth Group on a Sunday. This double-standard is harmful; it creates a precedent by which a theo-normative stereotype of the ‘atheist queer’ is ingrained in the community. Put simply, we’re discriminating against ourselves.
By now, I’m sure many of you are wondering ‘how can he be simultaneously a Christian, and gay?’ Well, I reconcile it like this: My faith is nobody else’s business, and you aren’t welcome to third-wheel my relationship with God. Secondly, the Bible tells me to love my God and my neighbour and I intend to do exactly that regardless of gender.
Lastly, if you believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth and all the majesties of the universe, then I find it very difficult to swallow that the very same God would condemn me to eternal death and suffering for something as infinitesimal as my in-built preference for other men.
Do not allow yourself to be a hypocrite and discriminate against Christians in our community. Otherwise you are placing us in a compromising position, forcing us to make an impossible decision between our identity, sexuality and religion. I implore you to embody the love and tolerance on which our community prides itself – because, God damn it, bigotry and discrimination are never acceptable in our community.
Perhaps both the LGBTI and Christian communities could benefit from some mutual enlightenment. And that enlightenment can only come from those of us in both camps – the proud and loud gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans* people – who despite the omnipresent discrimination have retained their core values concerning their sexual and religious identity.
I genuinely see a future where gay and lesbian scripture teachers permeate our schooling system… A future where Archbishop Jensen’s homophobic words are ridiculed by a clergy, composed in part of LGBTI ministers. And who knows? One day we may even see Priests on podiums at ARQ.