Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Commentary on the President's Statement: Balm for Souls of Gay Youth

More commentary on yesterday's statement: this set of articles all draw my attention because they note that, above and beyond any political haggling and calculation that may attend a statement like yesterday's statement, there are real human beings whose real human lives are radically affected by statements like the president's announcement yesterday--or, at the other end of the spectrum, by the actions in North Carolina the day before, and the ugly and downright demonic rhetoric now pouring out of the mouths of many Christians who fatuously imagine the North Carolina vote was a victory over evil.

As amaeryllis says in her tweet cited in this posting by Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress, what the president did and said will have an important effect on younger Americans who happen to be gay--and on those who care about the future of these younger gay Americans:

I'm going to bet people saying President Obama's support "means nothing" never comforted a 15 yr old gay kid asking why everyone hates him.

To me, that says it all: about why statements like yesterday's statement are important.  And why the continued silence of the U.S. Catholic bishops about attacks on gay teens, when these gentlemen can't say enough to condemn their gay brothers and sisters and can't do or spend enough to rip away our human rights and human dignity, is so obscene.  

Gay writer Edmund White makes a similar point in his statement at Salon about how the president's words bring balm to the souls of many of us who have lived through years of unimaginable soul-twisting hardship invented by "Christian" and "holy" people to dehumanize us--for their seeming delight, and because dehumanizing their gay brothers and sisters seems to reinforce their unfounded assumption that they are the holy and righteous insofar as they retain the power to reduce fellow human beings to dirt.

And as White speaks of his experiences as a gay man in his 70s, I think of the younger Americans who cannot help but have an easier path now, due to the words the president dared to speak yesterday--words my own church leaders adamantly refuse to speak, while they hurl condemnations and collaborate with those who want to reduce me and my kind to human dirt.

Andrew Sullivan makes these points explicit in his fine commentary entitled "Obama Lets Go of Fear" yesterday.  As he writes, 

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it  impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.

And Jay Michaelson reminds us at Religion Dispatches of the specifically religious roots of the president's statement, and how, above and beyond the ongoing debates about where to fit gay dirt into holy human and ecclesial communities,  it comes down on the side of religious values and affirmations that no Jewish or Christian community of faith can forfeit, and still call itself authentically Judaeo-Christian:

Obama’s thoughtful statement sends a different message. It says that values like introspection, compassion, and justice support, rather than oppose, equality for LGBT people. We can interpret Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians ten ways from Sunday. But what we can’t ignore are the calls to justice and compassion.

To which I can't see any other possible response than, Amen.  And continued shame on the heads of the Catholic hierarchy and the many, many churched folks in North Carolina who have just passed legislation motivated solely by spite and designed solely to reduce their gay brothers and sisters to a lower level of dirt than they occupied before this week's vote.

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