March 03, 2007

Reconciling Faith With Homosexuality

That's the topic of this story on the website of Channel 27 television in Madison, Wisconsin (thanks to gay news blog for the tip).

The story reaches the conclusion that this is "a small but growing group of gay Christians-committed to their faith, but ostracized from their church body."

For anyone who might fall into that category, please know this. Anytime you are shunned and/or condemned by a religion or church for being gay, that is NOT of God. Man apparently has as part of our nature the desire to seperate and put down those who are not like ourselves. That is part of our sinful nature that Christ came to earth to save us from.

People hate, God loves those who seek him. Despite what some of the largest religions in the world might tell you, there is always a path to God because He's always there reaching out to us, regardless of whether he made us straight or gay. Just because a church tries to block that path does not mean it is not there.

We all need to seek our own paths to God and not count on others to do it for us. Unfortunately, that has been made much more difficult for many GLBT people. That's why it is so important for us who do believe in God's love for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to reach out to them, show them His love, and make ourselves available for teaching, prayer, and worship.

March 02, 2007

Love Requires Action

That's one of the main points in this post by Peterson Tuscano, a theatrical performer and activist who calls himself an "ex-gay survivor" and travels the country to enlighten people by sharing that experience.

Peterson did just that on a public radio program yesterday, and here's a link to the podcast (it's in the second half of the program).

Why I link to it here is this excerpt from his post:

What I see in the Evangelical church is a lot of Love Inaction. If you really love us queer folks, don't just say it, show it. Faith without works is dead.

Here is an example, for too long many of us white Christian folks (liberal and conservative) have been saying stuff like, "I have nothing against Black people. Some of my best friends are Black. I love Black people" yet we do little to nothing to undo institutional racism that exists in this country as we cash in on the power and privilege we possess as a direct reslut of our skin color. Big deal that we "love" people of color. Folks don't need our declarations of love and harmony, they need equal opportunities for employment, education, housing and safety.

I believe that racism is much more severe in the US than homophobia, but how the people in power view the issues is similar. We look in our hearts and think that if we don't have anything ugly to say, then we are okay, job done, and we can move on and feel good about ourselves. That is not the message I see in the words attributed to Jesus. His Gospel is one of action, of true love in action. Anything short of that is a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.

In other words, talk is cheap. Many from the religious right talk about love while they ignore the needs of GLBT, or even worse actively practice hate.

Jesus not only preached love, He practiced it. Those who seek to be like Him need to follow His example.

March 01, 2007

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"--Bad For GLBTs, Bad For the United States

These statistics from the Human Rights Council:

It is estimated that at least 65,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans are currently serving in the U.S. Military.

More than 10,000 servicemenbers have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

This policy has cost a minimum of $191 million.

For those of you who aren't familiar with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it is the policy of the United States military to not inquire about a soldier's sexual orientation, and a gay soldier is required to keep it a secret. Once the military has evidence that a soldier is gay, they can be, and often are, discharged.

To illustrate the injustice and stupidity of this rule, the HRC sent out this letter from Eric Alva, the first soldier to be wounded in the Iraq. Since his discharge, Alva has made his homosexuality public and aided the cause of repealing DODT in his recent testimony before Congress.

On March 21, 2003, my life changed forever.

Three hours into the Iraq War, I was in charge of 11 U.S. Marines on a logistical convoy when I stepped on an Iraqi landmine outside my Humvee vehicle and became the first American wounded in the Iraq War. The explosion was so powerful it blew me to the ground ten feet away and took off part of my right leg. I can still remember the ringing in my ears from the blast.

I spent months in rehabilitation where I was visited by President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I was recognized by the military for my service and received a Purple Heart award. I was also interviewed by several major newspapers and magazines and I made numerous TV appearances, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Yet despite all the attention and focus on my life, today is the first time I have publicly talked about my sexuality in relation to my military service.

To be honest, each time I was commended on my courage, I couldn’t help but remember how scared I was that I would be found out as gay and kicked out of the military. I remember the fear I felt when people around me in the military started debating the new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy even before it became law. Still, my proudest moments during my 13 years in the military came when I would confide in one of my friends about my sexual orientation and they would still treat me with the same respect as before.

Although I’m no longer wearing the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corp, my mission continues to be protecting the rights and freedoms of all Americans. So as I begin my first day as national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't tell," I'm excited to be joining Rep. Marty Meehan at a Capitol Hill press conference today to reintroduce the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation to repeal this broken and discriminatory policy. I will also join hundreds of HRC members from across the country on Capitol Hill this week to meet with congressional leaders during the Human Rights Campaign lobby day.

Please, take action right now because my sacrifice was for the rights and freedoms of all our citizens and did not exclude GLBT Americans – especially the estimated 65,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans serving in the military who willingly and voluntarily risk their lives for our country.

You can click on this link to send a message to your congressman in support of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

February 28, 2007

"Repairative Therapy" Under Review

The American Psychology Association is re-examining its policy on treatment and sexual orientation.

Homosexual activists have "continued to communicate to us that they are very concerned about reparative therapy and the way it is promoted out in the world," Dr. Clinton W. Anderson, director of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual concerns office at the APA, told The Christian Post.

APA adopted a policy statement on sexual orientation in 1997. The three major points, Anderson summarized, are: APA affirms that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, signifying that it can't be cured; there is concern that those who promote the idea that it is a mental disorder are contributing to a hostile and prejudiced climate in culture; and APA identifies some ethical concerns such as respecting the rights of others to hold values that differ from their own.

Dr. Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology and fellow for psychology and public policy at Grove City College, warns that if the APA comes out with a new policy statement against reparative therapy, homosexuals who are discontented with their lifestyle
will have fewer options.

Really, though, isn't their only one truly effective option; understanding who you really are and developing those gifts that God gave you? Who has ever truly benefitted from denying who they are and acting in a manner someone else tells them they should?

I strongly suspect that is a very short list.

February 27, 2007

Love Thy Neighbor--Seriously

This article from Ethics Daily talks about one of the most basic principles of Christianity. I'm sure many readers here cringe when they hear a reference to the Book of Leviticus, but there is some good stuff in there, especially this from Leviticus 19:18:

" shall love your neighbor as yourself (NRSV)

The writer goes through numerous specific examples from the Bible that tell why God expects up to practice "neighbor-loving," then summarizes his view on this:

Neighbor-loving is hard, but it is not optional—not for followers of the Christ, neither then nor now.

Neighbor-loving is hard, but it's not impossible. Numerous saints and saints-in-the-making have shown us the way.

Neighbor-loving is not mere neighborliness. It includes the people next door, but extends to those most difficult for us to love: those not like us, who may not like us, whom we do not like, and whom we yet are commanded to love like neighbors.

The part that really jumps out at me is "those not like us, who may not like us, whom we do not like." Let's face it, practicing love toward others who are like us and who we like as people is not that difficult.

GLBT people often bear the brunt of hatred and discrimination, not love, by people not like them. That is wrong and, as this article clearly and effectively lays out, it is ungodly, even when it is done in God's name.

It is also encumbent upon the GLBT community and its straight allies to treat those who aren't like us or whom we don't like with love. It is a two-way street and God has the same expectations of all of us.

February 26, 2007

Honoring a GLBT Pioneer

Every movment, every fight for rights has their pioneers, their ground breakers. The fight for GLBT rights has Barbara Gittings, who passed away recently after losing a long fight with breast cancer. Among the highlights of her accomplishments was founding the first lesbian organization in 1958 and participating in the first gay picket lines in front of the White House in 1965.

Click here to read more about this pioneer, a woman far ahead of her time who helped make today's advances in gay rights possible in "Our Rosa Parks."

February 25, 2007

Working Against Bullying GLBT Youth in Vermont

As more and more GLBT youth come out and address their sexuality at younger ages, the issue of the bullying they often face in school is receiving more attention. Such is the case in Vermont, where Outright Vermont, an organization that advocates for GLBT youth in the state, has plans to host a workshop about bullying at Mississquoi Valley Union High School.

Unfortunately, when a group like that is proactive and progressive, you can count on some right-wing nitwit with a radio show to oppose them. Paul Beaudry, a radio host on two stations in Vermont, plays the role of the nitwit in this situation.

"I don't think this should be in the schools. If you go to their Web site, they're all about recruiting children into the homosexual lifestyle," said Beaudry, whose child attends the school.

Yeah, whatever. Of course, what they actually mean by recruiting is actually people attempting to help a youngster understand and accept who they are, even if that doesn't match up to the script their parents might have drawn up.

Hopefully the standard right-wing rhetoric of "recruiting" and "special rights" will be ineffective and Outright Vermont will succeed in holding this workshop.

Youth Exploring Faith Through Drama

There is a drama troupe in the Pittsburgh area comprised of GLBT youth between 14-21 years old that takes on a different theme with their production each season. This year the group is taking on their relationship with God.

"One of the biggest themes is the personal issue of sin, of how something that is so natural and doesn't seem like a bad thing, can be seen as horrible and people reject them for it. That is a big issue that most of them are dealing with," said Ms. Haugh, who previously founded the Renaissance City Women's Choir.

I really do love the Lord and believe in him and have a personal relationship with him," said Terrance McGeorge, 20, of East Liberty, raised Baptist.

"But I'm against organized religion. . . . Religion is supposed to heal your soul, but it bruises us because we are being discriminated against by people who are supposed to love everyone."

That's a pretty bright young man--finding his own path and making his own relationship with God rather than accepting the comdemnation so many major religions try to shove down young gay and lesbian throats.

Thanks to PageOneQ for the tip.