Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Randi Reitan on the Love Ethic, the Churches, and Gay Youth: What Messages Are Believers Giving?

Eric Reitan writes at Religion Dispatches about how his faith and the faith of many other Christians compels them to embody love for their LGBT brothers and sisters--contra  the insistence of conservative Christians that it's the Christians on one side, and the gays on the other.  Reitan discusses the recent suicide (yes, they keep occurring) of Zach Harrington in Oklahoma, a young gay man whose father says that learning precisely what his community members, most of them ardent Christians, thought of him drove him over the edge.

Reitan writes:

Harrington killed himself, not because he was being bullied, but because he became painfully conscious of the self-righteous intolerance of a large segment of his community. Just about a week before he ended his life, Harrington attended a Norman city council meeting in which a proposal to recognize GLBT History Month in the city was debated. Although the outcome was to approve the proclamation, the debate leading up to the vote was hardly an affirmation of gay identity.

On the contrary, the vote became an occasion for those with the most hateful views to be handed a microphone and afforded the chance to tell the community just how sick, sinful, perverted, and disgusting their gay and lesbian neighbors are. According to the Tulsa World report, Harrington’s father “said he feels his son may have glimpsed a hard reality at the Sept. 28 council meeting, a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents.”

Vis-a-vis the Christians-on-one-side, gays-on-the-other viewpoint of some believers today, note the argument of John Stangle in the America thread following Michael O'Loughlin's posting, to which I linked earlier today, implying that only the church "really cares about" gay youth, and that concern expressed by the gay community is "self-serving" and "for political gain."

If Michael O'Loughlin is right in his description of what awaits younger gay and lesbian Catholics who turn to that "caring" church, then one wonders what healthy options "caring" Christians want to offer young folks who happen to be gay or lesbian.  On the one side, the Christians, with a message to gay believers that they must learn to despise themselves and, if possible, masquerade as heterosexual--to protect the comfort levels of "caring" Christian communities.  And on the other side, if the assessment of these "caring" Christians of gay and lesbian folks is accurate, self-serving people wanting to use the struggles of young folks for political gain.

It seems that somehow people in many communities of faith, including my Catholic one, aren't thinking very honestly or deeply these days about the cul-de-sac into which they keep sending young gay and lesbian persons.  From which some of them never come out, since they see no exit from the dead-end street.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: