By R.J. Beaumia
I know with all certainty that if I wake up in the hospital tomorrow in a complete amnesiac haze, among the things I’ll have forgotten is that I was an altar boy and that I went to a Catholic school for 12 years. I also know that if a nurse resembling Colin Farrell comes into my room to give me a sponge bath I will probably be unable to contain my “enthusiasm.”
Thus I declare I’m an agnostic homosexual.
The reasons for my apostasy are complicated, but that simple illustration might help advance my point – and it is precisely that; my point, my opinion – that religion (or rejection of it) and the concept of a quantifiable, knowable god are things we learn. They’re choices, philosophies, lifestyles that change over time within cultures and within each person. It is also my opinion that organized religion has caused more human suffering than anything else, save the caprices of nature. History’s foundation is fortified with the corpses of those whose religious practices didn’t take place in the politically correct building.
Sexuality, however, whether mutable or fixed within the individual, is a constant in all sentient beings in all situations.
To put it into more personal and crudely blunt terms, throughout my life my ideas have changed about ways to acknowledge a supreme entity, but I’ve always been absolutely sure about what makes my privates stand at attention.
Polite Americans (this would not include me) are meant to never openly discuss their privates, nor religion or politics. However, we LGBT people find ourselves in the unusual situation of being allowed to talk about nothing else. Because of the political climate in this country, with the synergistic relationship between the ruling GOP and the religious right, we have been reduced to non-people, rendered to nothing more than our genitals and how we use them. So, along with all the very complicated family and personal issues we have to deal with, we are being forced to justify our very existence as citizens and human beings. Therefore, civility in public dialogue is a luxury we can no longer afford.
In the aftermath of the last presidential election, some Democratic-leaning organizations and publications that support LGBT rights are making sheepish overtures of conciliation with religious groups, as if atoning for some sin, and perhaps with the hope of leading a few voters away from the GOP. This is a grave mistake. It’s too late for compromise. Outreach will only result in pulling back a bloody stump.
Compromise of this sort is a guy saying, “I’m not a gay man, I’m a man who happens to be gay.” I would tell that fellow he’s wrong; to them he’s a filthy, child-molesting faggot and so am I. And that is how the public will perceive and treat us until we send out notice to the Republicans and all the churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that support their policies that we’re calling them on their bullshit and weÕre doing it now.
Religious groups have been consistent in backing up their overheated rhetoric with deeds. From the election in the Catholic church of a pope more hateful than the last; to the schism caused by anti-gay elements in the Episcopal church; to the many millions of dollars spent by the Christian right to legalize further discrimination against us, it’s apparent the bigotry and hatred aren’t going to stop any time soon. Why should they when they keep the pews and the collection plates overflowing?
As for the GOP, they’ve turned Pat Nixon’s good Republican cloth coat into a hair shirt and been quite the sartorial, and electoral, success. Like me, Republicans aren’t polite. In fact, not only do they talk about religion and politics in public, they consider them one and the same. So when it comes to demanding our rights they count on us to take the high road and be too afraid to confront them stridently lest we be seen as “anti-faith.” After all, one doesn’t argue with people of God, not about homosexuality, not about any legislation they try to pass. Jesus must have been born in a right-to-work state, if we’re to believe GOP dogma.
So let’s be honest. We’re treated the way we’re treated because we allow it. The politicians, the clerics, the pundits, the cops, and all the other bullies we have to face every day will continue to humiliate, harass, beat, and murder us and justify those actions with their “faith” until we come to terms with the unavoidable truth that organized religion needs to be put in its place – in our hearts and in our homes, but not in our government. LGBT people must demand that every institution we subsidize with our tax dollars strictly abide by the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. It’s the only way for us to attain our rights to full citizenship.