What Straight Christians Don’t Know About Gay Pride

Photo of Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay-rights movement, 2012, by Daniel Case, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonewall_Inn_2012_with_gay-pride_flags_and_banner.jpg

Photo of Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay-rights movement, 2012, by Daniel Case, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonewall_Inn_2012_with_gay-pride_flags_and_banner.jpg

The post below is by my friend, Kim Messick.  Kim is married and the mother of three young adults.  She did not grow up in church, but when she married, she began attending a conservative church with her husband. She has been attending the same church for 27 years, and has served as an elder there until 2015. It was there that Kim and I met. The elders at her church began working with LOVEboldly several years ago, trying to create a more welcoming place for those LGBTQ people in their community, and so we became to be friends.

Some time after our first few meetings, about a year and a half ago, Kim was shocked to discover this “issue” we had all been discussing with one another had become very personal when her daughter came out to the family. Kim started a blog to share her journey, and to provide resources for people who are trying to work out their faith, and their love for their LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors.  You can (and should!) follow her blog at: graceandasafeplace.wordpress.com/

When I invited Kim to participate in our series this month for LGBTQ Pride, she discovered that there are lots of misconceptions that straight, conservative Christians have about Pride.  So she shares here what she wants straight Christians to learn about Gay Pride.  Continue reading

My Neighbor’s Oppression

The Good Samaritan

In the past several weeks, I’ve received countless articles, emails, petitions, and Facebook messages regarding anti-gay extremists in RussiaNigeria, and Uganda who have been torturing and publicly killing LGBT individuals, sometimes while video taping it. And they face no consequences.  It is illegal in some of these countries to even acknowledge someone is LGBT without turning them into the authorities.  It is a criminal act to counsel them (even as doctors would do with AIDS patients), or even to provide housing to them.  And over 80 countries join these in criminalizing being gay.

Horrific as this is, sometimes, I confess, I have wondered why my LGBT Christian friends are more outraged over global LGBT oppression than about global Christian oppression.  After all, Christians don’t seem to be doing any better for themselves globally than LGBT people.  Thousands of Christians around the world are tortured and killed for their faith every day.  In over 40 nations today, Christians are being persecuted.  Many are facing imprisonment, harassment, torture, and death.  It is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith, to teach your children about Jesus.

I suppose it’s possible that, much like their straight counterparts, some LGBT folks simply don’t know about global Christian oppression, or they just haven’t taken time to educate themselves or care.

But I think something else is at play too.

While LGBT folks might sometimes be guilty of ignoring Christian oppression, it seems that straight Christians do LGBT folks one worse. Rather than merely ignoring LGBT oppression, Christians sometimes fund it.  It’s not a conspiracy.  It’s a fact.  On the basis of protecting traditional family values, many evangelical Christians are spending tithe dollars to support legislative efforts that contribute towards oppression, imprisonment, and killing of LGBT people.  And churches aren’t talking about it.

We wonder why LGBT people feel oppressed.
We wonder why LGBT people feel Christians hate them.

We pay for legislation to imprison and murder them in the name of Christian morals, and then we wonder what all the fuss is about when they get upset.

Arguments over who is most oppressed or which oppression is the most terrible are not only useless, they are destructive.  When we spend our efforts vying for position as the most terribly oppressed group, we invalidate the violations of the ‘other’ in order to elevate our own pain.  And in doing so, we unintentionally become oppressors ourselves.  Oppression of every type causes God to grieve.  And it should cause us to as well.  We must mourn, not just for the injustices done to populations we find ourselves a part of, but even for those we do not.  

It’s not just LGBT oppression or Christian oppression which should concern us.  We should be troubled enough to advocate for those oppressed in a variety of ways – victims of human trafficking, poverty, genocide, violence and abuse, those without homes, those experiencing racial injustices, and those suffering the consequences of religious conflicts which marginalize people of all faiths and non-faith.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan should have taught us a long while ago that we are called to be concerned for all who are suffering, whether or not those groups happen to be like us.  I dream of a day when we all might find a way to concern ourselves more fully with our neighbor’s sufferings than with our own, because that’s the day when all oppression would cease.

Artist Derek Webb mournfully sings in his song, “This Too Shall Be Made Right” some truly perfect words that challenge our callousness towards the suffering and oppression of ‘the other’.  I’ll give him the last word today, and pray that it shakes us all into action towards solving the oppressions of not just our own groups, but of those we consider ‘other’ as well.

“I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door.
I join the oppressors of those who I choose to ignore.
I’m trading comfort for human life,
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide.
And this too shall be made right.”

 

*This post is co-published at Heidi’s Patheos blog, Questianity.

Monday News: Uganda’s New Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today (Feburary 24, 2014), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law, despite international outcry. The bill, called the ‘Jail the Gays Bill,’  originally called for the death penalty for homosexual acts when it was first proposed in 2009.  Although the death penalty was removed from the final draft, prison sentences of 7 years, 14 years, and life are the new penalties for violating this law. 

 Under this law, LGBT people face life imprisonment if:

  • someone engages in a sexual act with a person of the same gender
  • someone marries a person of the same gender
  • someone touches another person of the same gender with ‘intent’ to engage in a sexual act

Also, prison sentences for anyone(including a straight person) who tries to support LGBT people:

  • 7 years in jail for officiating a marriage between people of the same sex
  • 7 years in jail for trying to aid or counsel LGBT people
  • 5-7 years in jail for offering premises or supplies to LGBT related activities
  • 5-7 years in jail for directors of any business or non-governmental organization (NGO) who supports LGBT people
  • Similarly, any national or international company or human rights organization in Uganda, which supports lesbian, gay, bi or trans people (including their own employees), could face 7 years jail and de-registration of the company (Montreal Gazette). 

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have expressed concern that this law could essentially outlaw much of their work in Uganda, making it extremely difficult to legally advocate for increased gay rights, or even offer adequate health services to LGBT Ugandans.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone”.

 According to President Museveni:

“Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” Musaveni said.

He added “there is something really wrong with you” if you were gay, adding that he didn’t understand how a man could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man”.

The LGBT community in Uganda face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.

In 2011, Ugandan gay rights campaigner David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home after a newspaper splashed photos, names and addresses of gays in Uganda on its front page along with a yellow banner reading “Hang Them”.

Currently, there is a petition from All Out that is calling on Ugandan leaders, global governments, corporations and religious institutions to take forceful action to denounce the law. To sign this petition, go to http://www.allout.org/kill-the-bill.

Amnesty International Statement

 

 

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