Easter, Passover, the Titanic and the LGBT Community
Easter, Passover, the Titanic and the LGBT Community
The convergence of two of the most profound holydays for Christians and Jews occurred this past week. In the coming week, we recall the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage (April 14, 1902). Given time to meditate a little on these three events, I believe we can, in fact we must, see the threefold message we can learn from all of this. The LGBT Community will miss the boat if we ignore these events and don't catch the parallel AND we will have missed an opportunity to make an improvement we need to make in our lives. The improvement is something we don't really like to discuss, but we all know that there's a need to talk about it.
Passover's central theme is liberation and freedom. For Christians, the events of Holy Week revolve around God's unconditional love, forgiveness and inclusiveness. In this latter tradition, I have heard about Roman Catholics who have been away from the practice of their faith for thirty years. They feel tremendous anxiety about speaking to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but they go. When they tell the priest the number of years they have been away, he embraces the person and says WELCOME HOME! Then, there's the Titanic! While many people sought lifeboats which were comfortable because they took up far more room than they needed to be safe, others sacrificed and fit passengers into lifeboats which became uncomfortable but safely made room for many passengers who might have drowned otherwise. They also said WELCOME ABOARD WHERE YOU BELONG!
All the above are examples of ordinary people living out their faith, or possibly just their sense of common decency, and the result was saving lives. It's interesting to recall that many of these heroic people had a feeling common to all of us-- that their small actions would do no good and that their efforts would serve no purpose. How wrong they were!
In the LGBT Community, we have many good people who still feel that they cannot reach out and be of help to their contemporaries. Let's put the DOMA aside for a moment, and examine the "smaller" challenges we face from day to day. How often have you or I ignored bullying of our GLBT brothers and sisters because we fear calling attention to ourselves? The cyber destruction of our brothers' and sisters' character, sexuality, beliefs, love and freedom can all be killed by a bigoted classmate or co-worker or friend (until the message is posted). Grapically explaining this was a very brief message on a teenager's Facebook page which said, "The wind blows and so does -----" At a certain age, we might be well beyond any harm such a posting could make, but for the teenager it can be a first or a final step toward suicide.
This tyranny we vent on others in our own LGBT Community goes far beyond the expected actions of adolescents. Some form a closely knit circle of friends and all the rest of the LGBT Community are considered outcasts. It happens repeatedly to men and women who don't fit the stereotyped models of the musclebound, six to eight abbed dudes who must be not only promiscuous but well-educated and wealthy. For the lesbians, it can be some movement away from the "in" definition of a lesbian at the moment-- be it ultra-feminine or a worked out truck driver image. We know that the labels range from "lipstick lesbian" to "dykes" to everything in between the categories listed or far more precisely members of that grouping.
We also have a very unfortunate situation in which gay men discriminate totally because of age. I know of several gay men who consider their lives "over" because they are "dead meat" at the age of 26! It's almost impossible not to notice that a 60 year old man in a gay bar often considers himself invisible because there is not so much as a smile from younger patrons. Oh yes, the bartender will almost always be nice as his tips depend upon it.
We live in a society where limits can be drawn and we can do away with stereotypes and labels. In all honesty, how often could a young gay man find great help and questions/lessons clarified by being a friend to an older man as a mentor? I might be stereotyping myself now, but I have noticed that lesbians seem to be much more grounded in bonding between differing age groups.
When I presented the teachings of several common religious traditions (at the beginning of this post) I was merely pointing out what is good and beneficial in our religions of birth. Of course, many religious leaders have screwed up badly. Truth be told, so have we. Discounting the actions of pedophiles and thieves, do we often expect far more from these leaders than we would ever expect of ourselves? One friend of mine suggested that priests and ministers must not masturbate! My response was only that I knew of no one in the entire State of NJ, including the gubernatorial paragon of virture and manners, who could honestly make that claim. And why should they need to?
For our own sake and for the future of a bonded and truly caring LGBT Community, maybe it's time to stop allowing ourselves to be made the enemies of one another! Let's work on making this potentially wonderful (fabulous) community of ours to start loving our members who are outcast by others, by both the young and the old respecting each other and learning from one another, by remembering that AIDS is not over, and that AIDS jokes are not funny-- by allowing ourselves to be teachers of one another-- old, young, fat, thin,average looks and Hollywood model types.
It has taken a lot of care and a delicate choice of words to bring us to the important words we all heard or sang years ago--"Come on people now, smile on your brother (sister), let's join together and love one another right now."
Take the challenge, and let one specific gesture or even one statement each day help to build up the community we love. Alienating or demeaning any members of this community starts the fast-growing decay which we are called upon to prevent from happening.
And your thoughts?