Oh Margaret, you poor unfortunate soul.
A week after your remarks, and I find myself reaching a point of apathy in you and your rhetoric. It is not the first time you’ve courted this type of controversy and lambasted the queer community for seeking equality, and it probably won’t be the last. I find myself wondering if giving you and your narrow world view any sort of platform is worthwhile, even to give it the critiquing it deserves.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that you aren’t the problem. Sure, you’re part of the problem, and your views have been and continue to be dangerous and are putting people at risk of actual, physical harm – either by their own hand or the hands of others who feel encouraged by your sentiments.
But as far as the root of the problem is concerned, you are but a single leaf on a very poisonous tree.
The thing is, and I’m probably going to be chastised for this, I get it. I know where you are coming from – after all, I received the same Bible training as you as an impressionable youth. As you might be able to tell, it didn’t really take.
I know that the only lesson you get to learn about the homosexual is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a tale about a town of men who surrounded the house of Lot and demanded he present two messengers of God so they could have sex with them, even refusing when Lot offered up his two virgin daughters for the men to have instead.
This leads to the men being blinded and the towns being destroyed with fire and brimstone, along with everyone who bore witness, including Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt.
Now, this tale is legendary, and immediately portrays men who have sex with men as evil, violent predators who must be destroyed. That is your one and only lesson on the homosexual man. It’s no wonder you think the way you do.
What isn’t as legendary is the fact that years later both daughters, being without children and spending their entire lives living in a cave with their father, decided to get their father drunk and sleep with him so they could have kids. So, you know, gross.
The life and death of Jesus, and the subsequent New Testament that remade God as less vengeful and bloodthirsty and more loving and kind, nevertheless maintained most of his old prejudices. I wonder sometimes what the Christian world would look like today if it hadn’t been rewritten to separate itself from their Abrahamic cousins.
If death hadn’t been taken off the table in the New Testament, would you be just as eagerly calling for our hanging, or for the families of gay children to commit so-called ‘honour killings’?
In much the same way that many everyday Christians have come to tolerate, if not accept, things like divorce, premarital sex, non-marital relationships and children born out of wedlock as a normal phenomenon in today’s modern society, so too must they come to acknowledge the realities of sexuality, gender diversity and marriage equality.
After all, queer culture and same sex unions are not a new idea, or a phase. They predate modern Christianity and one could argue that it was only because of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and your other cousins, Islam) that sexual identity and expression became something dirty to be suppressed.
In pre-Christian Rome, for example, having a preference for one sex or another was deemed eccentric, and although there were laws and protocol for what relationships between men were appropriate, having a male lover was not uncommon, or necessarily something to be ashamed of.
Despite every attempt to quash it, queer culture has survived. Straight people continue to have gay children, and those children deserve a world where they can thrive, as equals, even alongside their own siblings.
You see, as one of four boys, my life has been quite a different experience to my brothers.
For instance, my brothers have never had to go through being beaten for the simple crime of existing, as my oblivious parents’ played pool at the other end of the crowded bar. To my mother’s credit as soon as became aware it took multiple men to hold her back.
My brothers have never had a knife pressed to their throat for being a ‘filthy AIDS faggot’ – I was eighteen, still a virgin and was minding my own business.
My brothers have never been violated in the worst way imaginable by someone so repressed that they would pick up a man and then could only express their sexuality through extreme violence. They have never had to try and report said violence, only to be told it was a waste of time.
They have never had to go through the same torture again, in silence.
I have survived that and so much more but I do not dwell on the trials of my life, else I would have taken it long ago.
Instead I focus on my amazing family, friends, and boyfriend. These are beautiful people who, imperfect as we all are, would never cast me aside, or expect me to be someone I’m not.
You see, contrary to your belief, this is not a choice. You can’t choose your sexuality any more than you can choose your hair or eye colour. Sure, you can dye your hair or wear coloured contacts, and you might even be able to convince the world you have dark hair and green eyes when in fact you are a blue-eyed blonde, but it is a lie, a disguise, a suppression of your true nature.
No, sexuality is not a choice. If it were, queer people would not go through harmful conversion therapy, or be taking their own lives. We’d simply be straight. To claim it as a choice is wrong, and harmful.
Do you know what is a choice, though? The actions we make in this life are a choice. People choose to bully, people choose violence, people choose to kill. People choose to taunt, oppress, and inflict wound after wound for the simple joy of hurting. Worse, some people can’t even accept their own prejudice, claiming they are only doing it in the name of their religion.
You are one of those people, and I don’t understand that someone who says they have gay people in their congregation in the next breath would claim those same individuals as less deserving in life as yourself.
You are a strong woman who has excelled at her craft, and become a female pastor in a religion that promotes the subservient position of women.
You of all people should understand the strength it takes to stand up to a world that tells you who you ought to be and refuse to back down. Instead, you have chosen to use your platform for ill. But it’s okay. After all, you and I both know what the Bible says about the self-righteous.
One final thought and I shall leave you be. We are not going anywhere. We will remain vigilant and we will be strong. The reason being that there is a fundamental flaw in your claim that we are asking for marriage rights that ‘are not ours to take’.
Same sex love, unions and gender diversity have been around for a lot longer than the Abrahamic religions that are so hellbent on stamping them out.
Before they were revoked by early Christians who converted the world literally by the sword, marriage equality existed. So no, we’re not asking for marriage rights that are not ours to ask for.
They were stolen from us. We’re simply taking them back.