Friday, July 16, 2010

“I used to be a bible-banging homophobe, sorry.”

Story: I Hugged a Man in His Underwear. And I am Proud.

(This post/story is now a few weeks old, but it took me a really long time to get to a shareable point, so... Here it is.)

It's stories like this that renew my hope for humanity...

The title of this post is the message on one of the church members' signs. While I can't really speak for the church group, or even vouch for their validity, I can identify with some of their messages. I haven't always been a gay rights supporter... In fact, it took me a long time to even realize there were disparities. What's that word they keep throwing around regarding teaching children principles that they will never be allowed to question or doubt... Indoctrination. Typical. Catholic schools (which we often lovingly referred to as our "fascist oppressors...") only teach children that homosexuality is evil and a sin that would send you straight to hell. We barely even discussed it in grammar school, and when we did it was something dirty and shameful... A slur, an insult... I remember one day, a bunch of us were sitting in the back of the bus, and one kid was going on about how the Church must be mixed up, because all women are gay and all men are lesbians... Let's just say real information was scarce. My high school was a bit more liberal, there was a grand total of 2 openly gay students that I got to know, and for the first time we began to talk about these things in class in a way that involved actual information from sources other than the Vatican. These new teachers taught that while, engaging in homosexual behavior was against the Church's official teachings, the Bible doesn't condemn love-- just sex-- & what happens in private between 2 people may be sinful according to the Church, but it's no one else's business. It's very embarrassing to admit that less than 10 years ago I used to join in on the bashing. I would get very uncomfortable when anyone used any sort of slur, but I rarely said anything about it. I wrote in a fanfic once when I was about 14 about how disgusting yaoi was, ran around quoting the bible, and volunteered for a debate against allowing gay marriage. (I'm horrifically embarrassed and ashamed Now I'm so in love with yaoi that hetero couples bore the hell out of me & I find myself leaving a show mid episode to find some good slash to make it all better Sorry, Topanga, but Shawn & Cory are just totally meant for each other and you know it! Just like House/Wilson, Kyle/Cartman [yea, I know that's messed up, but Cartman sooo has a thing for Stan... Explains EVERYTHING.], Chuck/Nate, or even Chuck/Dan. I mean, yea, ChuckXBlair was good & all, but Chuck/Nate??? Why didn't I think of this sooner?! Oh yea, socialization.) It was all just too far out of my little conservative comfort zone. I find it odd now that we were learning about these things at the same time as Brown vs. Board, Jewish & Japanese internment in the 30s-40s, the Civil Rights Movement, Native American and Aboriginal rights, yet there was such a disconnect between the fact that discrimination and inequality is wrong, and that we continue to discriminate against so many and it's somehow "ok" because "the Bible says so." (Despite the fact that separation of Church & State should be enough of a barrier to keep religious groups from getting laws passed to favor their own beliefs... I have yet to come across a legitimate argument against same-sex marriage that isn't entirely based on religion or illogical reasoning...)

Even up until college I had some doubts about everything. (These were the end of my "I'm smack-dab in the center" days. I've always been more of a centrist than a radical, and I've been a "socialist" since I was 15, but never really embraced the entirety of the concept until I was 18.) By then I had learned enough to know that is, learned more in my sociology and psych classes, and all of my doubts went away... We're all human. Our behaviors aren't naturally moral or immoral, and just because one group says something wrong because a book or mystical cloud-person "says so" doesn't make it true. Why should I or anyone else tell people how to live and love?? Religious beliefs should never be forced on others... I regret that I ever bought into anything that hurt others, or participated in fear- and "morality" based derogation. And for that, I am truly very sorry.

I've since renounced my formal brainwashing. I guess you can call this "new me," and my advocacy/activism on gender and sexuality issues, my penance. (The "rebel" teen years were the best thing I could've done.) I'm a humanist-- I no longer call myself a Christian (as I can't get past that whole believing in a "God" thing), although I do believe that the man called Jesus (if he existed) was someone to be admired and respected, just as Gandhi should. Jesus preached love and acceptance, Catholicism preaches hate and discrimination... and denounces hypocrisy?! (Wasn't there something about glass houses, or people without "sin" casting the first stones?) If there is anything positive that I have learned from Catholicism and Christianity, it's that every creature deserves to be loved and respected for who they are, and we should strive to be accepting. (I won't use tolerant, because it's literally impossible to be tolerant of everything. We shouldn't be tolerant of racism/sexism/classism and bigotry... Plus I believe that we should truly strive for more than tolerance.) I'm trying to work now as an ally and advocate, because as much as the words "I'm sorry" have meaning, it's not enough. I fully support equality of all people, but words are stronger in action. I even have my little "I <3 <3: I support Gay Marriage" bumper sticker from Credo in here (right next to my NO SB1070 sticker, and my Liberal definition t-shirt... Still waiting for my Greenpeace anti-drilling sticker... Ordered that one in April, didn't I? The well's been stopped-- for now. Still against drilling, always have been and always will be, but I kinda want my sticker too... And where's my Marriage is So Gay t-shirt? Ordered that weeks ago too! :-D)

What will you do to show your support? For more info, or to learn what you can do to help, check out some of these sites:
Straight for Equality
PFLAG (They have cute American-made, sweat-shop free t-shirts & donate a portion of proceeds to organizations that support marriage equality. Each shirt has it's own unique number. I've ordered mine, 6 months later, now that I have money again lol...)
Human Rights Campaign
I bet we can find 1,000,000 People who Support Same Sex Marriage FB group (which actually has over 2.2 million members...)

Edit: DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, which is a major win. Argentina is the first Latin-American country to legalize same-sex marriage with all the same rights and privileges as every other marriage. DADT is on it's way towards repeal (hopefully). We're getting there! Keep up the fight for equal rights for everyone!!

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