23 April 2015

Making LaHaye When He Hates

Was this a Freudian slip?:

"The Christian community needs a penetrating book on homosexuality."

"Penetrating"?  Hmm...What does that word choice tell us about the writer of that sentence?

Said author is Tim LaHaye. Yes, that Tim LaHaye. Actually, he was quoting someone with similar views, but that LaHaye used it as a rationale for--and in the beginning of--his book The Unhappy Gays still, I think, confirms something I've long suspected about him and lots of other "Christian" homophobes.

More to the point, the esteemed Mr. LaHaye took it upon himself to explain homosexuals for likeminded people, i.e., those who use their religious beliefs as a smokescreen for their bigotry.  He's the sort of person who's articulate enough to explain to people what they can't explain about people they hate, but--not surprisingly--not honest enough to call that hate what it is.

I remember reading The Unhappy Gays not long after it came out.  I was in college and had joined a campus Christian fellowship for all sorts of reasons, all of which had to do with my inability--at that time--to understand, let alone articulate or deal with things I'd felt for as long as I could remember.  I actually "came out" as gay because, frankly, I didn't know what else I was.  Some members of the fellowship said they would pray for me, and I don't doubt they did.  At least they didn't try to "cure" me by fixing me up with sisters or other females they knew.  And being around them spared me from a lot of those campus activities that begin with alcohol and end with rape.

Still, I knew I wasn't one of them.  I didn't see anything the way they did.  No matter how much some tried to include me, I knew I ultimately couldn't be a part of their world, any more than I would be part of the world of white picket fences.

And from other people I faced outright exclusion and rejection.  Ironically, La Haye cited such rejection as one of the reasons for the "intense anger that churns through even the most phlegmatic homosexual". Although he was wrong to categorize all gays as angry, he did understand that rejection makes people angry.  And although I didn't fit most of the stereotypes he claimed to be elucidating for his audience, I knew I was angry--or, at least, unhappy.

Not to make excuses for myself, but what else could I have been, really?  However, rejection was only part of the reason why.  Most important, I think, was that I was someone I couldn't understand and didn't ask to be.  Like anyone else one who's born different from other people, I didn't start off thinking I wasn't worthy of the things most people wanted and enjoyed.  But, like too many who are "minorities" or outcasts, I absorbed the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that I wasn't worthy.  Those same people and institutions that sent us those messages were also the very ones who stigmatized us for not achieving what they achieved in the areas of relationships and even careers.  

Anyway, it's because LaHaye understood that much that he was able to say he was being "compassionate" toward homosexuals.  You know, in a "love the sin, hate the sinner" sort of way. Not surprisingly, he thought that because God loves us, all we had to do was to accept that love and we'd be "saved".  From what?  Our "sin".  And for what?  "Eternal life", or some such thing.   

I got to thinking about all of this after a seeing a post on the Patheos Atheist Newsletter today.  The author of that post outlined some of the lies found in LaHaye's book.  That post is definitely worth reading.  If nothing else, it offer you some insights into some of the things Christian "fundamentalists" say about gay (and trans) people--and how much worse they were in 1978.

22 April 2015

An ID For Her True Self

Every trans person I've known who began living in her or his true gender as an adult wished that she or he could have so lived as a child and as a teenager.  And each one of us has some thing or another we wish we could have done, or had, during those years.

Some of them are major, such as, well, getting to live in our true genders--or, more specifically, having relationships with family members and friends as the people we truly are.  Then there are those seemingly-trivial things that could have added to the quality of our lives.

Throughout my childhood and teen years--in fact, through most of my life--I hated to be photographed. I'm still not crazy about having my picture taken now because, well, I'm not terribly photogenic, to put it mildly. But in my earlier years, I felt that every photo of me was a lie, a deception, because it was an image of what I was supposed to be rather than of who I was.

Of course, everyone jokes about how terrible their ID photos are.  Some actually believe that the Department of Motor Vehicles requires their employees to be on psychosis-inducing medication before taking photos for drivers' licenses.  But those of us who wanted to live as the people we were--and tried to seize moments of doing so by "cross dressing"--knew that having the kinds of IDs we had, in essence, forced us to be the people depicted in them.

Chase Culpepper understands what I've just described.  The 17-year-old South Carolinan was forced to dress male for the drivers' license photo, even though she identifies as female.  The Transgender Legal Defense and Education fund filed a suit on her behalf.  As a result, a settlement--announced this morning--will allow her to wear female clothes and makeup for the first major piece of identification many young people receive--and the one some regard as a passport to adulthood. And now she gets to be a Southern Belle!

21 April 2015

Jacob's Journey

Here is the story of Jacob LeMay, a transgender five-year-old boy: