There’s no mo­nop­oly on faith

Si­mon Wil­liamson lives with his hus­band in het­eronor­ma­tively-as­sim­ila­tive fash­ion in Athens, af­ter a year of sur­viv­ing ru­ral Ge­or­gia.

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By Si­mon Wil­liamson

One of the things I de­test even more than dev­iled eggs is the im­plicit per­cep­tion in religious and political cir­cles that LGBT peo­ple are on one side of a bi­nary and religious peo­ple are on the other. It is ax­iomat­i­cally false to sep­a­rate the two cat­e­gories, as many of our kin­folk and many of the peo­ple who sup­port us be­lieve in a range of deities.

While my data may be anec­do­tal, there is enough of it that I per­son­ally know mul­ti­ple gay Mus­lims, Bud­dhists, Hin­dus and Chris­tians, along with a matrix of ag­nos­tics and athe­ists. There’s an army of us in the LGBT com­mu­nity who have been pushed out of our religious back­grounds. A large por­tion of our com­mu­nity prays ev­ery day (not just on flights), at­tends church reg­u­larly, doesn’t blas­pheme, asks for for­give­ness, spends time with the com­mu­nity that is in­volved with their place of wor­ship, sings in those places, and are com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing the golden rule.

De­spite be­ing shat on by the sort of religious peo­ple who be­lieve our civil right to marry robs them of some priv­i­lege, we for­get that when we group religious peo­ple as one thing, we some­times end up crap­ping all over our friends and fam­ily.

It is an easy trap to fall into, what with a Repub­li­can pri­mary cur­rently on the go, Kim Davis be­ing in­vited to the State of the Union, and our pres­ence in the most religious parts of the na­tion. We take a lot of flak from religious peo­ple, some of whom have made their en­tire ca­reers ben­e­fit­ing from anti-LGBT prej­u­dice. We see waves of peo­ple com­ing to­gether in al­liances against our ba­sic hu­man rights, with re­li­gion com­monly form­ing a part of their bond. For ex­am­ple, in Hous­ton at the end of last year, the Hous­ton Equal Rights Or­di­nance (HERO), which in­cluded civil rights pro­tec­tions for LGBT peo­ple, failed. One of “HERO’s” most vo­cal sup­port­ers, Pas­tor Steve Rig­gle of Hous­ton’s Grace Com­mu­nity Church, said he hoped lead­ers would “step up and stand against this thing that’s en­croach­ing across the na­tion with in­tim­i­da­tion and fear and telling peo­ple who just be­lieve in com­mon moral de­cency that they have no voice.” What a con­temptible ass—as if we have no com­mon moral de­cency.

Th­ese peo­ple piss us off. But they are not the same as our rel­a­tives, spouses and friends who main­tain a re­la­tion­ship with their gods.

We’re ex­pe­ri­enced in be­ing treated as a bloc, and we’d be do­ing many of our own peo­ple a dis­ser­vice if we didn’t re­spect their de­ci­sions to do with their faith what they will.

There are Robert­sons and Fal­wells, Davises and Cruzes and Ru­bios in the world, but there is also Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu, whose daugh­ter just mar­ried her part­ner, and churches along Peachtree Street that hang Pride flags out of their win­dows ev­ery Oc­to­ber. There’s also a DC imam named Daayiee Ab­dul­lah, who has gone out of his way to per­form se­cret cer­e­monies for LGBT peo­ple.

Like the hot­ness of Chan­ning Ta­tum, there are some things we all agree on, like ba­sic civil rights. On other sub­jects, we have to ac­cept that there is var­ied opin­ion, and we would do well to not spear our own com­mu­nity. We get enough of that from the out­side.

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