Living Gray and Gay by RJ
In response to Bill Realman Stella, I am taking the easy way out this time. I'll limit myself to one belief which is sure to cause controversy and one which should not. Other parts of the fielded questions will be tackled later in the week.
When I write that I am confused by people who claim to be "spiritual" but not "religious," I start to wonder what they really mean. I believe that there are good people in the pews, even in our most conservative and homophobic churches and temples. My belief is that we remain in our faith communities and keep being "in their face" about our sexual orientation. Studies have recently shown that about 60% of Roman Catholics are in favor of gay marriage. A great many also support a woman's right to choose. I daresay that most gay Catholics (practicing or inactive) know at least a few gay priests they admire or have dated! Aside from how it might appear, the hierarchy in this church doesn't speak for most of its members. There is still enough if the spirit of Blessed John XXIII to diminish the seeming power of this institution.
Ah, but why stay in any branch of organized religion? I have found that a community of believers helps to strengthen my diverse opinions. Aside from that, I will be the first to admit that my gay-self enjoys the music and the smells (incense) and bells and the beauty of a well celebrated liturgy. (Disclaimer: None of this refers to fundamentalists and Jehovah's Witnesses).
When I hear people say they are spiritual and can worship God playing golf on Sunday morning, I agree that one can do that, but I also doubt that they ever do. Sometimes these spiritual nomads find a "religion" in the twelve step groups. Others create their own view of the universe and it meets their needs. How they pass along those views to the next generation is a moot point. A Methodist minister once told me that he has observed that a significant number of converts eventually go back of their religion of origin. I have to agree. In my super gay-sensitive years, I belonged to many churches including a gay church. Something was always lacking for me.
If nothing else moves you about my convoluted thoughts, just try to remember that organized religion is probably the primary reason that the poor people in this country have not killed the rich people. Someone important said that, and it clicked.
The less controversial subject was the last in NJRealman's posting. I have gone through major peiods of depression in my life, and I have been helped by the medications out there. However, I don't see how a person can have awake participation in our world and not experience depression. We have poverty, the rape of the middle class, political corruption, natural disasters, AIDS, a technolgy system which doesn't appear (to me) to be able to become more sophisticated. It might not be therapeutic, but when you're not feeling depressed, it's pretty obvious that you're operating in low mental gear.
Back in 1981 when gay pride and the women's rights movements were still in their infancy, a disturbing statement was made about us: "Women's liberation and gay liberation are part of the same thing: a weakening of the moral standards of this nation. It is appalling to see parades in San Francisco and elsewhere claiming 'gay pride' and all that. What in the world do THEY have to be proud of?" The statement was made by the less than bright First Lady, Nancy Reagan.
Ms. Reagan did not understand the rights of gay and lesbian people, much less bisexual and transgender people. She seemed to just be frazzled by anything which struck her as "different" in our society. Arguing with Ms. Reagan would never have convinced her. Rather, I would like to present some powerful examples of what I have known as Gay Pride over the years.
When the Gay Pride Parades were in their infancy, a retired school teacher from New York saw her son being beaten and abused by the police. It entered her life through the black and white television in her living room. Jeanne Manford made up a sign which simply said "I Love My Gay Son" and carried it through the parade route. Once word was out about this mother's activism, interest quickly grew, and Jeanne Manford's phone rang endlessly-- and the beginning of what we now know as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays began. The group blossomed forth in every state and many foreign countries as a life line for parents who wanted to understand their child's orientation, and from kids who wanted to know how to make the big announcement. WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THAT!
Soon, the HIV/AIDS Crisis spread across our nation and the world. It seemed that every week, gay men were burying another one of their friends. The care needed by those suffering with AIDS was a challenge. We often heard stories about how hospital personnel refused to deliver meal trays to a patient's room. Doctors and nurses feared getting the "gay plague" from patients, rather than realizing that they themselves were the threat to the AIDS patient. Act Up became a force to be dealt with as they demonstrated about government inaction. Amidst all the pain and suffering, lesbian women rose to the occasion and voluntarily helped their gay brothers. Even Catholic hospitals such as the former Saint Vincent's Medical Center in Greenwich Village became battlegrounds against the disease, NOT the people with the disease. Even John Cardinal O'Connor was known to have made visits to the patients. It was even claimed that he emptied bed pans, but I cannot document this for sure. AIDS ministries sprang up in unusual places-- like the Saint Francis AIDS Ministry established by Father Mychal Judge at the church on West 31st Street. By the way, Father Mychal was a first responder to the Twin Towers on 9/11 and died ministering to other dying people. He is listed as "Victim Number One." AND WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THAT!
In a fast-moving world, there are many examples of our GAY PRIDE which need to be singled out. Among them are the courageous efforts of Matthew Shepard's parents after Matthew was brutally beaten and left for dead in Laramie, Wyoming. Many of our high schools have formed gay/straight alliances to assist gay or questioning teenagers and straight students who didn't want any part of the prejudice. AND WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THAT!
Today, we face a seemingly never -ending assault on same-sex marriage. Some religious groups, across the entire spectrum, have insisted that gay marriage would threaten heterosexual marriage. How this occurs in their minds is a mystery. What written "proof" they give us is ludicrous. They will sweetly tell us that God made Adam and Eve-- not Adam and Steve! Well, no great theoligian here, but who did make Adam and Steve? Churches which agree on little else join forces against gay marriage. The Roman Catholic Church, only in small ways recovering from the decades long clergy sex abuse scandals feels it is an authority on the evils of same sex marriage. They are eagerly joined by the Mormons, Baptists, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. But we do have courageous spiritual leaders who have both the education and the love to illustrate that love between two people cannot be defined by gender. Look to Baptist theologian Tony Campaolo, Roman Catholic Father John MacNeil, Episcopal bishops John Shelby Spong and Gene Robinson. The list is far too long to report here AND WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THAT!
With Gay Pride Sunday coming up both in New Jersey and New York in June, let's consider attending, maybe even marching. We must never forget how far we have come in our battle for acceptance and equality.
You are from NJ, and Garden State Equality has us very close to the marriage victory we desire. We have a governor who has enacted the strongest anti-bullying law in the country. Despite any of our other reservations about the man, we can pretty much assume that he thought of his own kids when he heard about Tyler Clementi. AND WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THAT!
Let's think about it. The first Sunday in June (NJ) and the last Sunday in June(NY).....Clear the calendar and let's show the solidarity we need to reinforce again and again.
Does anyone have an excuse to stay home?
- Coming out from the parents' viewpoint. I heard trheir side hundreds of times.
- Staying in a long term relationship which became toxic.
- Spiritual but not religious. Whatever does that mean?
- Safer Sex and HIV
- When the gay kid becomes Mom and Dad's caretaker.
- Stereotypes which don't fit 3% of the time.
- Dealing with the Catholic Church and staying.
- Falling in love with a married dude.
- Those phone sex lines.
- Why I played with GI Joe.
- Gay or grumpy???
- Meeting Richard Simmons by surprise.
- You ain't rich, you have a lousy pension, you have no partner.... but it's the Golden Years, dude.
- Everything hurts; and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.