Oh, and let’s not forget the second-tier cast of sky captains: Bahá’u’lláh, Zoroaster and Abraham also think we suck. Hell, even Buddha wasn’t crazy about the idea of his monks hooking up for a little post-meditation frolic with each other.
In fact, many of this planet’s religions spend a lot of time basically shitting all over our existence. I suppose it’s a handy distraction; having a nice, clear cut case of heathen sinners to focus on instead of examining their own filthy little impulses.
Thank heaven for the few pockets of homo-friendly creeds. Anglicans seem largely cool with us, and some branches of Hinduism have that whole third gender queer acceptance going on. Wiccans of course don’t care who you fuck: man, woman, goat, tree . . . it’s all good.
But that doesn’t make the reality of religious opposition to homosexuality any less depressing — particularly when the fanatic types spend so much of their free time lobbying governments to put us heretics in our proper place.
Then of course there’s ISIS/ISIL/DAESH, who bypass any sort of lobbying and just toss us off buildings to the braying crowds below.
It doesn’t make it terribly easy to teach my son to be accepting of other cultures whose beliefs dictate that his fathers go directly to hell without passing go.
Because like it or not, if someone is wearing special headgear, jewellery, weapons or face masks, religion plays a significant role in their life. And as a gay male, I have no way of knowing how safe I or my son are around that person. They’re telegraphing that their religious beliefs are fervent enough to mean wearing a big-ass crucifix, a special hat or a full-on beekeeper’s outfit. Does that mean their fervour extends to most religions’ outright condemnation of LGBT folks?
I know that my own history with evangelical christianity plays a big role in my protective instincts. In Grade 10, I fell in love with the beautiful blond boy who sat next to me in art class. He had startling blue eyes and a slightly bad-boy air — all the things that spell disaster to the frail heart of a closeted homo. When he asked me to go to youth group with him one evening, I was ecstatic. I had no idea what to expect, thinking perhaps we’d be playing floor hockey or maybe watching videos of frying eggs while an ominous voiceover tells us that this is what our brains look like on drugs.
It was when the first pimply youth broke out in tongues, spewing equal parts gibberish and saliva while the other kids wailed “Praise Jesus!” that I realized something was a little off. Three hours later, I had committed my soul to Christ, renounced sins of the flesh and realized that hanging on to the new, blond love of my life meant hiding even deeper in the closet.
Every Sunday I sat through hour hours of wailing, shouting and weeping, as the pastor railed against Jews, Catholics and pop music — the order frequently varied. But the big climax was always the same: The gays.
The gays wanted our children. The gays were actually hosts for demons. The gays needed to submit to the punishment of AIDS that Jesus had so kindly sent in response to a good christian’s prayers.
Now, years later, I can see that it was my own self-hatred that kept me there. My parents were atheists, but they hated the gays too. Hell, I hated the gays — but most importantly, I hated myself for being one.
Homosexuality has become the cause that unites fundamentalist religions. Each may believe that the other is destined for hellfire, but they can all at least agree that the gays will suffer most of all.
I’d think it was laughable if it wasn’t still so freakin’ dangerous to me and my ilk.
Recently, a doctor in Michigan refused to care for a newborn child, because its parents were lesbians. She cited her religion, saying she had “prayed on it” and that it became clear that the Hippocratic oath didn’t apply to the six-day-old daughter of two women. And, thus far, she has gone unpunished.
Because it’s her religion.
Then of course there’s anti-gay’s newest prom queen, Kim Davis. It doesn’t matter to the religious right that this Kentucky county clerk has multiple marriages and affairs under her belt, just as long as she keeps refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. I still say her greatest crime is that hair.
Three years ago my son attended a daycare where one of the workers wore several layers of headscarves. The woman never made eye contact with me, would only respond in short, clipped sentences to me. At first I thought perhaps this was just her personality, until I saw her warmth and openness with the other moms and dads. Sure, I felt like shit, but I also felt deep alarm at how she may treat my son because of his “sinful” same-sex parents.
The thing is, I really don’t trust religions. None of them. I think it’s a dangerous way of controlling people, channeling their frustrations and fomenting hatreds towards the disenfranchised and hoarding power. When I see people making strident public statements regarding their religion, I automatically check myself, knowing there’s a pretty solid chance that my community is on their shit list.
And that makes it hard to encourage a relaxed approach to religion in my son. I’m not sure how to explain to him that respect of other people’s beliefs needs to be accompanied by a degree of caution, as those convictions often dictate the oppression of his family.
Or how a seemingly gentle, lovely man named Jesus talked about loving one’s neighbour and not judging, but apparently added a codicil advocating the persecution of gays and ownership of semi-automatic weapons after his death.
Or how women are somehow magically capable of corrupting a man’s soul if she sits beside him on an airplane or exposes so much as an ankle
Or how men are so intrinsically savage that they will be inspired to sexually attack said ankle.
The reality is that we LGBTers have made — and are still making — huge leaps in the quest for acceptance and equality in North America and other parts of the world. But most countries on this planet still outlaw our very existence, dealing out harsh punishments and social pariahism if we venture out from the closet. And religion is the tool used to mete it out.
So sure, son, we need to accept other cultures and creeds — it’s the right thing to do. But we need to be aware that they’re not always playing by the same rule book as us, and that even the most banal church lady may already be visualizing your parents roasting in hades.
But someday, I really hope that things like this are less rare than they are today: