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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Being an Ally to a Queer Person of Faith

This Wednesday, I went to a panel discussion sponsored by the Chaplain's office on "Being an Ally to a Queer Person of Faith." Although all the panelists were cheery and supportive, I felt that the discussion sidestepped the pertinent issue. For the most part, the advice that was being given (be supportive, let people have time to adjust, etc) was the advice that you would give to a queer person struggling to come out in any community, religious or not. The panel seemed to be hoping that, given enough time and support, any community that cared about a person would eventually come around.

The posters for this event pushed this idea of eventual harmonization. A typical poster for the event read: "Bisexual Baptist? What if somebody told you that your identity was a contradiction?"

Yeah, well, what if somebody was right?

Religious groups make truth claims about homosexuality, that are, at times, impossible to divorce from the truth claims they make about the nature of god and the appropriate form of worship. In these communities, it is completely plausible that there will never be acceptance of 'practicing' gays. In these cases, being an ally requires us to help a queer people of faith to make a choice between acting on their orientation and maintaining their religious faith.

The panel seemed to be considering religion primarily in a cultural or social sense, but it is important to remember that religious faith makes demands on people. It is when we recognize that a faith is making unreasonable demands in that we make judgments about a religion's ability to distinguish true claims from false. Wednesday's panel should have recognized that, when we start telling the truth about ourselves, that change may force us to recognize that sexuality was not the only sphere of our life in which we have been living a lie.

1 comment:

pipen said...

I agree, religion in the conventional sense usually demands certain behavior from their followers. However, one should also consider the personal way in which someone chooses to practice their religion. While the "correct" way of being christian, jew, catholic, etc. might demand you not to be queer, there is always the choice of your own interpretation of faith and the religious writings. While some may say you are not truly [catholic, jew, christian, any other] if you only pick certain aspects to follow, you cannot deny the value of choosing the morals, beliefs you agree with and sticking to them. After all life is all about trying to be congruent with oneself. Maybe, the community won't accept you the way you are but the religious community is only a part of having faith.