Thursday, February 26, 2009

Christianity and Homosexuality: the major issue of our time

It is clear that all of the problems homosexual Americans have in gaining equal/civil rights come directly from religion—all religions.

So in most cases thinking homosexuals have left religion, since “religion” left/rejects them. But there are those who do not leave their religion. And so there is a conflict in the community/movement in how to deal with the opposition coming from religious institutions and people.

It is time that homosexuals stop doing to each other what bigots in religions have done to s: refuse to listen to other views, possible methods/tactics.

A resource to start this dialogue is found in such a book as Christianity and Homosexuality—some Seventh Day Adventists Perspectives, edited by David Ferguson, Fritz Guy and David Larson, published in 2008 by Adventist Forum, in Roseville, California.

The problem, as usual, is getting such an excellent tool to the very people who need it—not only members of the Seventh day Adventist Church, but all people dealing with religious issues. For while there are a few small sections that deal with specifically Seventh Day Adventist issues, over 90% of this book has material—facts and views—that are not only useful to everyone but in a few cases have not seen print anywhere else.

Since religious problems are a personal issue, the first section is from personal experience as a LGBT Adventist, and most of the writers came from a deep SDA background.

Then there is a remarkably good “history” of the biomedical history in dealing with homosexuality. The major people are covered, such as Hooker, Kinsey, and Bergler and Bieber, etc. Then there is the behavioral aspect, sociology talking. Then a scriptural discussion, overwhelming in a sense, and as is later pointed out, irrelevant to most people since logic is not a good argument to people who have a fixed view, pro or con. Then there is the question of how the church should handle the issue, how it should act over making laws—a very special issue for SDA people since the church has suffered greatly s a church that worships on Saturday and thus its members have been punished for not being like “normal” Christians.

While some homosexuals will not understand the homosexuals who insist on staying in their church, there is a good thought presented, some of us are incurably homosexual and incurably religious.

The book is mainly a product of the LGBT group of SDA members, Seventh Day Adventist Kinship International. They have been active since the1970, incorporating as a group in1981, and later had to fight a legal battle with the church over the use of the church name, which they won.

A type of thinking toward the Bible and history is called “present truth” which means having beliefs that are based on study and revelation as well as word for word use of the Bible.

There can be no doubt, as is covered in the book, that the behavior of the church has harmed young people. A good use for the book is to show to young people that there have been other SDA people who have overcome the terrible injustice of the church.

As an aside, I thought the issue of having a partner was handled well when it is said that if you can't find a good Adventist partner, it is better to have a good Methodist than settle for a bad Adventist.

One problem I have with the coverage, which is excellent on how the world has looked at homosexuality, is the complete failure, with only the usual exception, to acknowledge that the advance made in our area has been the result of the civil rights movement for homosexual citizens started mainly in Southern California in 1950 with early Mattachine, moving onward with ONE, Inc./Homosexual Information Center, later Mattachine, the Daughters of Bilits, SIR, etc. It is hard to understand why all of the writers seem to ignore or not know of this history and only think this movement started a virgin birth at Stonewall in 1969-it will not make those people happy to know that the one mention calls it a riot, since those there constantly point out that it was a revolution, a big difference.

This is relevant since there might not have been a Dr. (Evelyn) Hooker, or even a good Dr. (Alfred) Kinsey had therefore not been the help of Mattachine and ONE. Yet their work is presented in a good timeline of events and people in the long procession toward today.

The writers do accept the relationship among the various civil rights movements—black, women, etc. So it is clear that the people who then (and now) rejected homosexuals, also rejected blacks, poor, etc. (Which again makes it hard to understand why so many blacks stayed in the church that supported slavery, or women stayed as major supporters in a church that kept them as second class members, and also why homosexuals stay.

The book discuses the ex-gay movement, especially how the church accepted a fraud, Colin Cook, and it also points out that, as some relatives kept saying to those who came out as gay, you know what the Bible says, and you know the devil knows how to use it, and that applies to our movement, which seems to worry about letting our work be known—in both cases the fact is that “Satan knows the Bible better than we do” and our enemies know what is going on in our movement faster than we do.

The ideas come forth that having companionship is important, both as a support group and as a partner, and thus comes up the issue faced in the very first public discussion of gay marriage, in ONE Magazine in 1953, it may lead ot an idea that there are good/moral homosexuals, who are monogamous, and the rest who are bad and NOT monogamous.

The point is made that giving long factual arguments does not always work, and I want to say people should have read this issue a long time ago in such books as In Defense of Homosexuality, by R.O.D. Benson. Logic doesn't work with bigots or fanatics. And the more “religious” someone is, the more judgemental—an example being that relatives often constantly harassed a gay person who said he or she was homosexual.

Another aside, some of the people writing in this book should be the type of guests Ophrah has, and not all the suddenly outed celebrities, who have never suffered the loss not only of a job, but of a family, church, etc.

One of the better chapters is by the mother of a gay son. She covers all the usual stereotypes and dismisses them, and gives a list of resources.

I also found it interesting to know that the daughter of H.M.S. Richards, a radio preacher, has two gay children. So, being a leader of a church does not mean your children will not be homosexual. (I had listened to him, but don't recall him discussing this issue.)

In a list after each chapter there are resources and references, and I see some, such as Wayne Bensen, and wonder if he and others have seen this book.

An issue is raised by one writer about wondering if the church should be encouraged to start discussing homosexuality. At first thought the answer today would be no since it would be a negative one. That is like what Don Slater and ONE said about having sex courses in school: don’t, as none of them would allow the homosexual viewpoint, so it would be more harmful, and of course we see— think of the daughter of the governor of Alaska— that abstinence-only classes have proved worthless.

I don’t recall hearing before a term used, but it is used wisely. It seems in years past many people were classed as social degenerates, meaning those who were not white men mostly—and that was racism. slavery, anti-semitism, anti-homosexual, anti-poor, etc. Medicine often did not correct this anti-human view, and the writing makes it clear that while Freud did not consider homosexuality a problem, later Jewish physicians did and often caused harm, and the problems was that their views were not based on medicine or research but on their religion, and that often to try to prove that Jewish doctors were just as good as non-Jewish. Only later did sociologists etc. understand that it is not homosexuals who are ill, but society. And it is to the same of what should be a great medical school, Loma Linda, which works to make people healthy, would use medicine to harm homosexuals. And like too many medical schools, a person could graduate without ever having talked about homosexuality.

In this regard, the change in the view of the psychiatrists and psychologists is discussed, and it is pointed out that it was NOT politics that made them change their views, and in fact it was politics that had made homosexuality an illness in the first place.

The point is made that in medicine the issue of homosexuality should not be a theological or moral issue. It is past time to allow prejudice to become evidence. And no matter what the view a school can not allow bullies to harm a child, and the schollsmust be attacked legally if they do.

In the discussion of “change,” it is pointed out that if someone claims no longer be homosexual, the claim is disproved when it is admitted that when they have sex in a dream, it is still homosexual.

The church claims to be a caring church, but it turns out on this subject to be like President Bush’s compassionate conservatism: nonexistent.

A question being asked today is where in a church’s priorities is the issue of homosexuality. This church has spent much money on Colin Cook and his Homosexuals Anonymous and Quest, and lately against gay marriage. This is in direct violation of the history of the church, which suffered greatly from laws against it. It promoted separation of church and stage, as of course did early Baptists.

This church often talked about freedom. Yet has fought gay marriage. And much of the religious discussion seems to deal with Paul,strange that Christians ignore Jesus and push Paul. If the church is not ready for gay marriage, the church may not be ready for Jesus. Certainly the early religious practiced incest and polygamy, and no one talks about David and Jonathan.

But the worst sin of this church is that it is not using these wonderful resources, these fine men and women who seek to join and serve.

Certain phrases stand out: the gospel is first, the law is second. We can be “correct” and still be wrong. And the closing pages go directly to what seems irrelevant, but is pure Jesus. Rethink what is said in the story of the Good Samaritan-lawyers and preachers passed the hurt man by, the outsider did the right thing. Others would seek to call a conference to deal with the generic issue of criminals, set up a committee, find any excuse, but talk rather than act and take responsibility.

And then finally there is the return of the prodigal Son, who returns. He is given equality, which doesn't make the son who stayed happy.

The church today, has to face reality: if Ellen White could allow members to accept racial segregation if they lived in the south, and not try to end prayer in school, then it is past time for the church to deal with the fact that a Bible that accepted slavery is not a Bible that should be used to make homosexuals outcasts, and the future of our nation will not have a place for a church that is less Christ-like than the government.

This book is almost a one stop history of all issues of homosexuality. Every library should have it, and every young person should be able to read it. It gives no false hopes, but it gives a honest view of the past and present and perhaps the future, and considering the world of a President Obama, that is a good start.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Discussion on Sullivan's Blog sound like discussion in book on muckraker Lincoln Steffens, in early 1900s

As I see discussion on Andrew Sullivan's blog, of the current financial crisis, etc., I find words sounding the same in a glance at Justin Kaplan's biography, Lincoln Steffens (1974, Simon & Schuster).

In discussing financial problems of the President T. Roosevelt era, I see words such as (Page 161) Steffens saying to Roosevelt, “Fighting dishonesty as you are, you are doing more than all the rest of us so-called muckrakers put together to show the American people that the cause of graft and the result of all our corruption is simply misrepresentation in government, and that the cure is to regulate, to control, or if these fail, to own those businesses which find it necessary to their success to corrupt men and cities and states and the United States....You ask men in office to be honest, I ask them to serve the public.”

Although Steffens had been wrong about some people and events, such as Mussolini, Hitler, Spain, in the Afterword we are told that Steffesn had predicted the arrival of a time when the government would give way to a consortium of special interests.

In saying that muckraking is still needed, and this is in the time of Ralph Nader, My Lai and Watergate, the author closes the book with what sounds like a comment for today. “Never before, perhaps, has there been quite so much to expose or so strong a resistance to exposure. Never before has muckraking had to contend with such elaborate safeguards and such an advanced state of moral numbness on the one side and, on the other, so high a threshold of moral outrage in the public sensibility. Never before has muckraking-‘the letting in of light and air’-been so nakedly recriminated and menaced by men in power. Lincoln Steffens’ bold thrust and Theodore Roosevelts's seemngly operatic party prefigured a conflict of as yet unsettled dimension and outcome.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Outing, still an issue, and two examples in Windy City Times

It is sort of frustrating that our community/movement still has to deal with issues we had to worry about over the past 50 or so years. And in the pages of the Windy City Times we have how the more things change the issue is the same.

Does someone deserve to be outed? You I think are right in saying: only if they are being anti-gay. And so we have Tracy Baim and (Rev) Irene Monroek giving us two examples to think about.

Baim says also there is a question of how someone who has been “protected” by the glbt community and media owes it to us to “come out” in our arena, when too many celebrities come out for the publicity—a great change of course—they get from doing it on tv or on the cover of People Magazine, etc. Yet here is a public official who comes out to preempt the bigots from his being “outed” as he is about to head education, which is really bringing our movement up from the very first, to my knowledge, attack we faced, when Mattachine tried to involve itself in a school board issue—and of course children are the first thing bigots scream about—us tring to recruit the children. Yet he does come out, but not in LGBT media. Yet he is a good guy so it is not an issue, and so even if he doesn't do it, say, in Windy City Times, you can say, Thanks for coming out of the closet.

But how do we deal with a (Rev) Ted Haggard, as Monroe covers. He is not out yet. He still preaches one thing and does another. And still, even after being outed because he has acted against our community, in some ways we feel sorry for him-he sure doesn't fit the word gay. But is he exploiting the issue, trying to have it both ways? And he is only one of many religious bigots who have beedn outed.

The first person (Rob Huberman, heading the Chicago Public Schools) is a good model that young homosexuals can respect. The second person (Haggard) is the opposite, he is still deceiving himself, his family, his fellow church people, etc and watching his “story” on tv will only hopefully warn young homosexuals to NOT follow his example. Maybe both can be used as educational material.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama is the answer to the same sex and interracial marriage "discussions"

I believe in the years to come people will look back at this time as having ended what has for centuries been social issues of sexism and racism. And it will be President Obama who is the final answer.

The more ignorant black preachers quote the Bible incorrectly to fight same sex marriage, the more Obama proves them wrong. For ignorant white preachers have quoted that same Bible to not only approve of slavery, but until the 1960s to oppose interracial marriage. The more a few blacks complain about gays using "their" civil rights movement, the more clear it is that ALL civil rights movements are the same and work together.

I thought of this as I reread a book, Nebraska, by George Whitmore (wonder where he is today, the novel was published in 1987 but about events in 1956) and wondered if any young person reading it today would be able to “feel” the story. It is of a boy who feels guilty for having lied to another boy that his uncle had said he had sex with men, and this was later used to legally put the uncle in a mental institution after he was arrested for public sex and it was discovered that he had been kicked out of the navy, dishonorably, and loved another man.

Hopefully in a few years no one will have to deal with such a situation, and even today there are agencies to help someone in such a situation. I was kicked out of the army, so perhaps I could understand and feel the story even more than most people.

If few homosexuals can even “feel” such a situation, since they will never have such a terrible experience, either being rejected by or being kicked out by the military it is easy to understand why most Americans can not feel the problems homosexuals or people of other races, or religions, have, being in a minority.

This should have been discussed at The Task Force's Creating Change conference in Denver and the meeting of the “leaders” of the community/movement who met in Los Angeles to try to deal with the loss of Proposition 8. How do we let the aveage heterosexual person understand/feel the real issue when too many homosexuals don't even know the real issues.

How “gay” for some young leftwing homosexual to say, well, we shouldn't be in the military anyway, as if his or her choice should be forced on everyone, making them just like the rightwing bigots.

It may seem a reach, but this is exactly what an interracial couple dealt with when they fell in love. Interracial dating and marriage was opposed by the vast majority of white citizens and black citizens, and there are probably still a few people who oppose it. If they don’t want to marry someone of a different race, then they shouldn’t. But they have no right to make that choice for others. Yet they did, by law. And it was based on religion and the Bible was used to preach that such marriages were wrong.

One of the many “logical” arguments against interracial marriage was how it would hurt the children, who would be of mixed race and suffer rejection from both races.

Obama is the answer to that stupid argument. And if interracial marriage is now accepted, so should same sex marriage be accepted. And the children of same sex marriage are doing fine, just as Obama and many children from interracial marriages have.

But go back and read the terrible accusations, claims, sermons against interracial marriage even after the U S Supreme Court—making law as rightwingers always charge when they don't like a decision—ended laws against interracial marriage. The same lies are used against same sex marriage today, often by interracial black preachers.

Then let us figure out how we got from such evil beliefs to a President Obama. And see if that journey can lead to acceptance of same sex marriage.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Words and actions that don't promote the goals of an organization

I want to say something about the work in a group that is different, yet in a sense the same issue-worrying about the wrong issues or projects.

Specifically, it has been my experience in the one (ONE/HIC) organization I have worked with for over 30 years, now mostly by email, that too many people join an organization and want to participate, but when you get them to a planning meeting, board meeting, whatever, instead of ADDING something to the work, they, as the phrase goes, try to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titantic. It doesn't apply only because other people didn't allow the diversion and constant arguing to “tank” the organization.

One of the main purposes of someone coming on a board is to try to add money and energy, etc. But in at least half of the cases we have had, the new person did not donate any more money than they did before, AND made no effort to get others to donate. They did not do any more work than they did before. What they did do was to try to rearrange how we spent the money and energy we did have. In several cases we tried their new ideas and it did more harm than good, AND shortly, they left.

I am not saying these were bad people, all were (with one exception, another story since he was still a Mattachine person — J J Belanger, as he had been a lover of Hal Call — and not really a ONE/HIC person, so had conflicts and loyalty to one group made him harm our group) and they all were sincere, but merely took what was already done and tried to redo it instead of adding ideas and material.

One example was that one man (David Kennedy) thought that our financial problems could be “helped” if we changed the branch of our bank to one nearer our office—the one we had was near our first (of 3) office. He was treasurer, so almost without a discussion went and moved the account. Soon we started having troubles at the new branch, not anti-gay but just that the people didn’t understand our work. So eventually we had to move the account back to the original branch (a wonderful branch, Bank of America, Universal City, which knew how to deal with non-conforming people and groups as they deal daily with movie stars, etc.)

But David was a good worker, like all of our co-workers, and was the one who got us the attorney who sued Pacific Telephone when they screwed up our phone number, and even though technically PT&T did not lose, they paid us an out of court settlement, something they did NOT do for several other lawsuits at the time, when they had actually harmed a few businesses, etc.

That is another story of prjeudice-after several letters trying to solve the issue, we realized that two people were casing our problems at Pacific Telephone, one a bigoted Mexican American woman, then she was backed up by a black officer. What others at PT&T later admitted was that these two were so stupid that they had actually in writing and in phone conversations said prejudicial things about our work. The wise attorney said to take the settlement they offered, even though we had written proof they had made a mistake dealing with our phone when we moved from Cahuenga Blvd West to Hollywood Blvd, and to win you had to prove financial harm, and even though the sum was small, I think about $10,000, we would have a hard time winning in court. I should point out that it was PT&T that had said our use of the name "homosexual" was good as their operators got calls for such a service and had no idea who to refer the callers to, and we were the first to use the word homosexual in the phone book.

So possible generic problems in any organization should be explained to new members before it is a personal issue.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

John Burnside honored in RFD Magazine as it announces changes, new address

The Winter 09 issue of RFD Magazine (#136, started in 1974) illustrates both the honored past of our community/movement and the hopeful future, as it leaves (Short Mountain) Tennessee and moves again to Massachusetts. (It has also been in Iowa, Oregon.) So best wishes as the new people take up the work.

But after a glance at the beautiful cover (a special point as it has an older man on the front cover and a younger man on the back cover) and the announcement of the new address (SMS will still be involved as the printer is in Nashville and they will do the mailing) and the picture of a group includng John Burnside and Harry Hay, 1978, Running Water, if we read nothing more, this issue is worth the work s it has the wonderful obituary of John Burnside by Robert Cronquist.

The memories are what gives us evidence of a community, even though many of us keep sayhing there is no community. Here is a loving portrait of John, and the contrast with Harry. Often we ask what got some of us into the movement, and John's path is explained, and I know its true as I and others were there at ONE when John and Harry found each other—in fact some of us helped move material from John's house below the Hollywood Freeway, and later from their place in Laguna Beach, and visited them in San Juan Pueblo.

By the way, although I personally have said that with limited ability, we need to concentrate on one issue, as is pointed out, Harry and John were took the time to work on avery important non-gay issue in helping the people of New Mexico, Indians and non-Indian, save the Rio Grande from an unneeded dam.

Harry of course co-founded (the main impetus) the first continuing homosexual organization, Mattachine. Internal troubles with Mattachine and later the faerie group caused them pain, but they kept going, to found the Circle of Loving Companions, which may yet be important in our fight for recognition of our loving relationships in marriage equality. The fact that the group members supported Harry and John is evidence of a community-something you would think the Mormons would respect as that is one of their “selling points,” what they are famous for (as well as their choir, which we have several of also).

It is inspirational to know the life of John Burnside and how he "balanced' Harry Hay as a couple, personally and in the movement. RFD deserves thanks for this personal and honest rememberance of a good person and this part of our community/movement history. And thanks to Robert Cronquist for sharing, and the others in the Circle of Loving Companions for their devotion to these two and our community.