Thursday, June 12, 2014

Being That Which Supposedly Doesn't Exist

It feels like the LGBT community has been under attack recently from a few different directions.

Here, in Houston, our City Council recently passed an equal rights ordinance that gives LGBT people protections in employment and housing and such. This is an advance and a victory, but leading up to the council vote, there were hours and hours of testimony, some of it very painful for LGBT people to hear, most of it made up out of fear and misinformation about LGBT folk. After the ordinance passed, there have been petitions circulated to bring this to a vote in November as well as death threats against our lesbian mayor.

This week, the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, made reparative therapy a platform item for Republicans. This "therapy" has been debunked and decried by every credible psychological authority, and yet it here it is again. How much does one thing have to fail? It's laughable and yet wearying. It's a reminder that so many people still think we're sick and in need of fixing.

And of course, the Southern Baptist Convention has been so predictable in their addressing of LGBT people that it defines banality. The SBC was particularly hard, it seems to me, on the T of LGBT. They basically said trans folk don't exist.

All of this comes from people who don't deal well with ambiguity in general. I get how hard it is for them to conceive of a woman with male characteristics and vice versa. I was there at one time.

It is troubling that everyone from the people issuing death threats to the people not believing trans folk exist are using religion as their cover story. It's very troubling to a religious sort like me.

But really, the problem with all of these situations is that people of faith want the Bible to explain and give rules about everything. They have a hard time appreciating the the subtleties of real, deeply engaged Bible study (which is more than memorizing a few verses here and there).

I react in particular to the assertion that "there's no such thing as trans" because I've heard the accusation that "there's no such thing as gay Christians." I suppose the Christian trans folk I know from my church are even less "existable" to these people.

Except I'm right here, real as can be. As are the trans people I love. And unlike the alcoholic analogy that Rick Perry would have us buy, we all are healthier and build better relationships when we are honest about being LGB or T. It seems impossible that the governor of a state would not know anyone LGB or T (and the rumors persist that he's "known" a few, but then so have so many anti-LGBT politicians), but  if one takes a little time to get to know LGBT folk, you quickly learn that we are much better off having reconciled ourselves with our identity. Meanwhile, the reason an alcoholic goes to AA is because alcoholism is demonstrably harmful.

And it's not as if every straight person has it all together. I mean, seriously. Do you even skim the headlines?

What I'm trying to get at is that all this is wearying and hurtful. It can wear a person down to be constantly explaining that you're real, that you exist, that you're not going to eat anyone's children.

And wouldn't it be nice if all these people of faith who don't believe in us would just take some little time to get to know us? 

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