Well, I have to hand it to Barack Obama. He's nothing if not fair. After upsetting the queer community by choosing Rick "gay marriage is like incest" Warren to deliver the invocation at this Tuesday's inauration, the US president-elect has now pissed off the religious right by choosing gay bishop Gene Robinson to perform a similar function at Sunday's kick-off event. Smooooooooth, that Obama. Here's Robinson telling Rachel Maddow all about it:
"It's a shame that our next president apparently has so little regard
for his Christian constituents that he would give such a high place of
honor to a self-styled man of God whose only claim to fame is that he
abandoned his wife and children to enter, 'loudly and proudly,' a
sexually deviant lifestyle expressly condemned by the very Bible he's
ironically called 'holy and sacred.'"
This of course fired up my Rant-o-meterTM as it coincided with the blunt and long-awaited comments from the Rev. Al Sharpton a couple days ago:
"I am tired of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and
then after they’re preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising
Finally, someone else said it! Now, Sharpton's not specifically talking about the humiliated megachurch leader Ted Haggard (there are so many other examples, of course) but it was just this week that Haggard popped up again, promoting a new documentary about him, and let us know how his "gay conversion" therapy is going:
"My therapist says I am a heterosexual with complications. I don't say
that because it is more complex. I love my relationship with my wife."
"Heterosexual with complications" — is that what the kids are calling it these days? I love it — it sounds like a weather report: "Today will be mostly heterosexual with some scattered gayness and a slight chance of hookers and crystal meth." Those of us with memories, of course, will recall that Haggard was pronounced "completely heterosexual" in February 2007 (but hey, so was Clay Aiken!).
But my point (and I had to get around to it sooner or later) lies in all three statements from Barber, Sharpton and Haggard: it's the creepy schism inherent in them, this idea (and not one just limited to the Christian right) that sexuality exists as something outside of life, outside of love or politics or truth. There are too many people, even gay ones, who think that their sexuality is something they can neatly tuck away in a box.
Such compartmentalizing never holds out for long. Poor Ted Haggard went through hell but still can't wrap his brain around the notion that he might be gay AND love his wife. Almost all of us — straight, gay, bi or what-have-you — have people
in our lives that we love dearly but don't necessarily want to fuck,
and others that we want to fuck but don't necessarily love. Haggard thinks he's a "sinner" or "weak" when he's actually being human. Like most of us, he just needs to reconcile his various desires. It's why gay people come out in the first place, recognizing that our sexuality is a major component of our very identity.
The clueless Matt Barber says that Gene Robinson "abandoned" his family for a mere "lifestyle," when anybody with an ounce of compassion and a speck of brain-matter understands that Robinson loved his family enough to stop lying to them over the fact that his heart, his soul and yes, his loins were crying out for another man. Robinson didn't create a schism like Haggard's; he was trying to heal one.
Sexuality — queer or otherwise — can't be divorced from the rest of life. It's a beautiful and fascinating part of it and, in each of us, it shapes how we see the world (or, if you're Matt Barber, how you don't). The opposition to this reality — politically and culturally — is the single most poisonous thing that the religious right have done. Haven't the fruitless struggles of Ted Haggard and so many, many more just like him proven that already?
So cheers to Gene Robinson for championing the integration of sexuality, religion and politics and to Barack Obama for trying to work it into his own vision. It's long, long overdue!
Tomorrow: more Britney Spears cruelty, 'Battlestar Galactica' giddiness and the best condom ad ever!