Sunday, September 28, 2008

Response to TheCall

As I was walking about the campus of San Diego State University, I saw loads of posters that caught my attention.  They were for TheCall California.  I was intrigued so I went home to check out their website.  

Personally, I'm intimidated a bit by crusades and such, all goes back to my first encounter with Promise Keeper conventions.  But my goodness, this is a crusade to "save the homosexuals" on a very large scale.  I am sure that many organizations will be responding to this very large event in the area.  I am in the process of networking to see if we can get a group of people that are willing to stand in vigil lines outside of the stadium.

I am not opposed to prayer, but what is being prayed for is something completely unnecessary.  This event demonstrates an abuse of religion and spiritual violence.  As a follower of Jesus Christ and his ministry, it's time to turn some tables in the temple.

This event is lead by Lou Engle, you may remember him from the movie Jesus Camp.  Engle is describing this a battle between "light and dark." He says that 

This is a time to resist mightily the spirit of peaceful coexistence and apathetic resignation in the face of this prevailing darkness.

It is messages like this, that suggest that LGBTQ individuals are less than normal.  These messages suggest that we are the root of all evil.  These messages are dangerous to the LGBTQ community.  Words lead to action.  By calling this a spiritual war between good and bad and designating the gay and lesbian community as "bad," Engle is sanctioning and condoning violence against the Queer community.  

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Marriage Debate

As many of us know, one of the last bastions of discrimination against the lesbian and gay community are at present not allowed to marry.  By governments not sanctioning same-gender marriages, they are voicing that do not recognize love that is shared by two consenting adults that want to proclaim their love with one another.

There are many couple rights that are not awarded to gay and lesbian partnerships, both big and small.  To allow gay couples to marry would enable them to take advantage of the various fiscal benefits accorded to married couples in general.  Gay couples at this time are unable to claim their spouses on their tax returns.  As a college student, I am forced to list "single" on my financial aid (FAFSA) application, because the federal government aid will not recognize my marital status.  Many universities, including my own, will not recognize gay couples as "independent students" even though it is granted automatically to straight married couples.

It is completely inaccurate to perceive marriage merely as an institution for child-raising purposes.  For one, there are many married couples today that do not have any children, nor intend to.  Likewise, there is increasing number of children that are being raised by single parents today.  Furthermore, there is psychological evidence and studies that have proven and continue to argue that being raised by two fathers or two mothers is just as healthy as being raised by one mother and one father--as long as the child's well-being is in mind and cared for, there is no argument for why that child cannot have a healthy and viable family life.

Civil unions and domestic partnership registrations are not equivalent to marriage.  They do not grant similar rights, nor are they treated the same way.  Equality means that we share the same civil rights and liberties as our neighbors, not a generic brand of the real thing.

Marriage in this country is also not a Christian institution, as marriage is granted to non-Christian straight couples all the time.  The debate over marriage is not a moral issue, this is a civic issue.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Somehow I'll Make a Man Out of You

How many of you have heard that song from the Disney movie Mulan, "I'll Make a Man Out of You?" I feel like that song represents an interesting part of my ex-gay experience. I've been visiting San Diego State University for the past two weeks (my husband is a student here) and they've been having Greek Week, which is a time for students to find out about the fraternities and sororities on campus and then perhaps rush for them. There was one fraternity that really caught my eye, Alpha Gamma Omega, SDSU's only Christ-centered fraternity. So I decided to check out some of the things they do. They do: Worship Night, Wakeboarding, Beach Football, Broomball, and then "Bigger or Better" (I'm not sure what that means exactly).

Their activities they have planned really got me thinking about gender roles and how they could possibly be trying to re-assert their masculinity by these activities. I was taught through my reparative therapy counseling sessions that men engage in these activities not to necessarily "butch" ourselves up, but because sports are a natural way for guys to connect with another.

Because I was told that my father did an inadequate job raising me to be a "man of God," I was assigned to male mentor in the church.

For us guys in the program they partner us up with straight male mentors, particularly men who are a little older, overweight, and balding. Well, the therapeutic theory behind this is that they believe that these guys will serve as less of temptation for us. But I have a little confession to make. I find those guys kinda hot. --Chad, Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House

My male mentor's job was to pretty much be the good Christian example that my father wasn't. We went out to play catch at the lake, we went to go see action flicks at the cinema, and like every good Christian "dad" he took me to a Promise Keepers convention where I was supposed to learn how to become a "man of integrity." From my mentor I was supposed to receive constant reaffirmation for the good things I did that were representative of an authentic "man of God."

However, through my attempts to "reconnect with my masculinity" I ironically began to feel like less of a man through the activities that I was doing. I felt like masculinity was being defined for me. I always knew that I was a feminine guy. I had heard that since I was a small boy and I had learned to accept it. But my male mentor didn't know how to respond to that. He had 2 sons that were older than me and I'm sure he was just doing what he done with his sons when he raised them. Eventually he had starting feeling like he was doing something wrong as a leader, but then changed his mind to the belief that there was just more that was wrong with me.

So as these fraternity brothers play their beach football and tackle one another with no shirts on, I wonder if they do so because they too believe that sports are just the natural way for men to connect with one another.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Great Frontier: Contributor to Religious Violence

In my Religion and Film class this summer I wrote a paper where I argued that the Frontier Myth is a potent contributor to religious violence in the history of American culture. Below is an excerpt of my paper. I would like to start a discussion on this thought though, please leave comments:

An important aspect to draw from the cinematic representations of the frontier through these films is an understanding of how these themes have played a role in the cultural history of America and why the frontier is such a potent contributor to religious violence. There are several reasons as to why the frontier is so powerful and dangerous even at times. First, there is an understanding that violent confrontations take place over and in different kinds of spaces, whether that is national spaces or even religious spaces. It is generally understood that conflict and violence arises in these spaces because they cannot be divided among rival groups. This is clearly evident in the recent history of the United States through issues battling with minority groups: women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, etc. Since there is a common goal shared by both groups that can only go to one group—limited resources—there is competition, and because of the theory of realistic conflict, the groups will compete with one another, become hostile, and ultimately attempt to eliminate their opponents. Secondly, there is conflict over what actually makes a nation-state. The most crucial factor to that conflict is the ability to control borders. If a nation-state cannot control their borders the legitimacy of the nation-state falls away. Therefore, groups are always battling on the frontiers to convert the space in their space, and by doing so; they add the space to the nation-state. Groups place their hegemony over territories that may not be their own. Maintain the theme of the traditional frontier, this was seen during the Americanization of the Native Americans even in the second-half of the twentieth-century. Converting their lands into major cities and only giving them very poor parts of the lands. Another example of this placing control over “enemy land” was the building of the Arlington National Cemetery which is located on the plantation of Jefferson Davis; creating a monument for your own people in a land of your “other” is a slap in the face. A third reason is that frontiers are places where identity is confused unless you are powerful. Therefore, striving to be the strongest and the most feared as a nation would make others aware and decrease the likelihood of having their space trumped on. Finally, frontiers are also places where the nation-state is most vulnerable and therefore the settlers on the frontier have a very important role to place in the drama and history of the nation-state.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Parents of LGBTQ Children

Parents have been on my mind a lot lately. It all started last week when I was visiting my mom and she was sharing a rather exciting moment with me. A classmate in one of her classes asked her if she had ever seen “Brokeback Mountain.” As she was proudly sharing the romantic plot of the movie one her male colleagues interrupted her to say that movie was about “two cowboys that go camping to become fags.” This was the first time my mom has ever been faced with having to respond to the use of anti-gay epithets. She firmly stood up and looked the gentleman in the eyes and assertively told him, “I don’t like that word.” He replied, “Well they are fags!” She then said, “My son is gay and I love him very much. That word, ‘fag,’ is dirty, violent, harmful, and I’m not going to let you or anyone insult my son, my family, and the many other LGBT people that we are all connected with. Now, like I said, ‘I don’t like that word.’” The gentleman quickly backed down and apologized many, many times. The class applauded and quickly people started sharing with her about their gay relatives.  I was incredibly proud of my mom and was tearing up when she told me.

Coincidently, the next day I had received a message on YouTube from a man who wanted to share his mother’s experience with his coming out experience. She allegedly speaks out quite a bit on being a mother of a gay son. I watched a YouTube video of her speaking. When her son first came out to her, she insisted on reparative therapy. He never spoke to her again. It was after that she realized that was doing something wrong as a parent: she forgot to love him. Her mission isn’t to teach a position on homosexuality (while I think she may not agree with it though, but that’s just a personal observation), she wants to teach parents to remember that they are called to love their children unconditionally. There was a line from her speech that I loved, “I cannot teach you how to change your children, but I can teach you how to love them!”

Not every parent of a LGBTQ child has to stand up in class to acknowledge that have a gay child. Every mom doesn’t have to be a PFLAG member and march in the Pride parade. Every parent doesn’t have to be “out.” But parents do have a duty as a parent to love their children unconditionally. All too often when children come out their parents, they are not reminded that they are loved. Parents too often focus on “who” their children are attracted to, they care about what the church will the think, they don’t want their little boys wearing dresses, etc. But they need to pause and remember that before saying anything else to their child, they need to remind them that they are loved no matter what.

I’ve been in contact with this young man who is in his coming out process. He just came out to his father. His father responded ignorantly on the subject and doesn’t ever want to hear anything about it ever again. What’s hurting my friend the most is that his father never told him loved him still. My friend said that he doesn’t care if his dad will disagree with his homosexuality, but he wants to know that he will still be loved.

Parents, you have a duty to your children to remind that no matter what you will love them without reservation.