I can’t think of any reason why most all LGBT people, and decent people everywhere, aren’t outraged at the fact that our LGBT brothers and sisters being demonized, and denied full and equal civil and sacramental rights! I do think that the outrage is there, but most feel that to express that outrage, and fight for the same civil and sacramental rights as are enjoyed by all other citizens in the U.S., would hammer home a truth that few really want to confront: The fact that many of those whom they consider “friends” would turn on them at a moment’s notice if they did insist on those rights, and that LGBT people and allies would have to face their needed “season of suffering” (To use Martin Luther King’s apt words.) before those rights are won!
When one is both filled with self-loathing, and when one wants to be accepted, and when one wants friends and allies, it is disconcerting, to say the least, to risk realizing that their “friends” and their “acceptance” are contingent upon LGBT people “keeping and knowing their place.” For example, even in churches, many in the congregation know who are Gay, and will embrace them, even giving them responsible positions in those churches, be it as teachers, deacons, music directors, etc.
However, deep down those Gay people fully realize that if they insist on the same rights as the others in that congregation, such as the right to marriage, or even anemic “commitment ceremonies” as a phony substitute for marriage, all hell will break loose, and their “friends” will quickly turn on them, and it takes someone of enormous ego strength to contemplate this reality, and have to face this reality, if he/she wants to be approved by others.
So, the choice comes between adhering to the status quo where LGBT people remain second class citizens, deprived of full and equal civil and sacramental rights and are “allowed” to be conditionally accepted and used on those terms, OR insist on being treated as everyone else with all the rights and privileges accorded others and know that their “friends'” gloves will come off and they will betray their true colors and turn on them, thereby profoundly hurting them emotionally, and have that hurt culminate in their being prevented from engaging in those ministries to which they have been called in the church; being similarly betrayed and emotionally, if not physically, hurt in secular society by many who either don’t go to church or who do go to church who discriminate against LGBT people, even to the point of violence, all the while thinking that they are doing God a favor by so doing.
One of the worst mistakes we can make is to be inauthentic so that we can win others’ approval, and be accepted, fully knowing that that “acceptance” is contingent upon that inauthenticity, even carrying that inauthenticity to the point where many Gay people have not only internalized homophobia but externalize that homophobia so that they demonize and condemn others who dare to assert their right to sit at the same table, partaking of the same food, as everyone else.
Jesus says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) This admonition isn’t only given for the benefit of Christians, but for all people who seek to live an authentic, fulfilling life!
If you’re liked and accepted for being something other than who you are, and you compound that inauthenticity by self-loathing that manifests itself in your own misery, and you then further compound that self-loathing by expressing homophobia to others who do seek to live free and equal lives, you are not only committing a great sin against yourself, but you are committing a great sin against the truth and against others, thereby helping to retard the realization of full and equal civil and sacramental rights for all LGBT people.
This retardation can also be seen to take the form of begging, and being grateful, for crumbs in the form of incrementalism: for example, settling for Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions rather than fight for full marriage rights; voting for a politician because, although he/she still demeans you, he/she seems to demean you less than another politician; justifying voting for reactionary candidates by viewing oneself as not being a single issue voter; justifying homophobic religion by attending homophobic churches, and giving credibility and justification to homophobic clergy by attending their churches and putting money in their collection plates which also helps get their message out how Gay people are responsible for assorted, including bizarre, ills in society, such as the breakdown of the family, the ephebophilia scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church, and for Hurricane Katrina.
When the chickens come home to roost due to selling out one’s integrity, selling out one’s brothers and sisters, and selling out the principle of full and equal civil and sacramental rights for all, and LGBT people are then forced to confront the ugly truth regarding the cost paid by, and incurred due to, those sell outs, maybe it will only be then that Jesus’ statement will hit home: when one sells his/her soul, when you sell yourself out, when you sell others out, you will reap the whirlwind of having sacrificed justice for living a life of illusion bereft of authenticity, justice, and love.
And, when one finally realizes that fact, despite living this inauthentic life, he/she has pushed back the clock when full and equal civil and sacramental rights could have been achieved, then he/she will be far more motivated to become meaningfully activist.
Never be afraid! Never unduly care what others think of you! And never, never, never, seek to curry favor with others by selling yourself short or selling yourself out, and/or selling our brothers and sisters out for any reason!
For to do so is no less a sin than are the expressions of hate out of the mouths and actions of the most virulent homophobic elements in our society! Because, you see, that hate expressed by those homophobic elements is largely fueled, and made possible, because of those LGBT people and “allies” who favor the status quo so as to be somewhat “accepted” and, like all bullies, religious, political, and other homophobes are emboldened both by our silence, as well as by those who curry favor with them by selling themselves and others out, and by settling for incrementalism at the expense of justice for everyone.
Only when our outrage is expressed, when meaningful grassroots activism occurs that is contingent upon taking to heart Jesus’ admonition that we are never to sell out our souls, so that LGBT people and allies demand that LGBT people be treated with the same dignity as accorded everyone else, that full and equal civil and sacramental rights will be won, and not a moment before!
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and the website Radical Christianity.