Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Remembering the Pulse Massacre: Or Why I'm Still Not Feeling the Love from Christians in Donald Trump's America

From the day that the massacre of 49 LGBTQ people (most of them Hispanic and African-American) happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, I began blogging my heart out. I wrote, in particular, about the roots of violent homophobia in the attitudes of many people of faith. I wrote about the lethal tendency of people of faith to erase LGBTQ people and refuse to speak the names of LGBTQ people even as something like the Pulse massacre took place.

I'm going to append a list of some of the postings in which I wrote about these themes last year, in light of the Pulse massacre.

Did any of this blogging my heart out make a real difference, a dint in the religion-based homophobia? It's hard to see that it did so: Pulse happened, and then in the fall elections, a majority of America's white Christians marched to the polls and placed Donald Trump in the White House,  electing a Republican Congress at the same time. For LGBTQ Americans, the results have been horrific. 

If you followed the Twitter hashtag #EqualityMarch two days ago when equality marches were taking places at cities across the U.S., and if you clicked for an unfiltered (the "latest" label on Twitter) view of what everyone was saying at that hashtag page as the marches were going on, you would have encountered a steady stream of vile hate, as self-identified Christian people tweeted hate towards LGBTQ human beings, African Americans, women, Muslims: hate conflating various groups of targeted others whom white Christians in the U.S. love to vilify these days. One big ball of hate devised by America's Christian majority.

Hate using the occasion of pride marches for LGBTQ people one year after the Pulse massacre to attack not only LGBTQ people, but other groups of despised others who are now in the center of the target in Trump's America. Hate that has burgeoned in Donald Trump's America and will keep burgeoning.

Hate that — I say it again — emanates right from the white Christian community in the U.S., which placed Donald Trump in the White House.

This is why I am extremely dubious about the loose talk now being offered to us regarding "bridge-building" between the Catholic community and the LGBTQ community. What can such talk mean concretely when, following the Pulse massacre, 60 percent of white Catholics in the U.S. went to the polls and pulled the lever for Donald Trump? Having every reason in the world to know full well what his party stands for when it comes to decent treatment and respect for the rights of LGBTQ human beings . . . . It's right there in the party platform, for God's sake.

Has there been any real change after the Pulse massacre in how the Catholic church in the U.S. treats LGBTQ human beings? If that change is not apparent in the votes of a majority of white Catholics for Trump, where is it apparent? What Catholic authority figure either of right or of left, someone with the power to make this happen, is asking in a respectful way that the stories of LGBTQ people be heard by the Catholic community in some official listening space designated for this purpose?

If such a space exists, if such a dialogue is really taking place, I have somehow not been informed about it. I have not been invited to take part in it. The Catholic community has not asked to hear my story — though some other non-Catholic religious and secular communities have been eager to do so.

In the absence of any real-life signs of such an opening to the LGBTQ community by Catholics in the America of Donald Trump, talk about building bridges is cheap. It's also deceptive and a cover for what should not be covered over in this way, when 60 percent of white Catholics in the U.S. elected Donald Trump and when #EqualityMarch, a hashtag set up to permit people to follow news about the pride marches across the U.S., turned into a hatefest — because this is what Christians logging into it chose to make of it on Sunday.

And this sobering p.s.: two days ago, a friend of mine who is a retired Catholic theologian emails to tell me that a friend of his in New Hampshire has written to tell him of a Catholic priest in that state who totes guns ("YES REAL GUNS," my friend writes), and who issues hateful statements about LGBTQ people online. His bishop apparently approves of all of this and rewards this priest by giving him youth ministry opportunities.

Here are some of the things I posted about the Pulse massacre last year that appear to have made very little difference at all:

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