Sunday, January 25, 2009

Religion and Morals, and other good articles, Seattle Gay News 1 & 9-09

I know editor don't need their inboxes filled, but I do feel the need to say how much I like some aspects of the Seattle Gay News, which has articles and view I don't see elsewhere, partly, of course, because other g/l publications aim at different aspects of homosexuality.

But I believe, as a good example, that several columns by Wayne Besen say things that a lot of us believe, and say them in words that, although perhaps said elsewhere that I don't know about and usually in such theological and legalistic language that most of us would not grasp, that his words need to be heard by everyone-gay and non-gay.

The issue of some right-wingers claiming/believing that you need a religious background to have morals-usually of course meaning Christian religious basics-is answered by much of what is said in the columns. And with timely examples of how “religious” people are often more un-Christian and un-American than people who do not claim to be religious. Many people who lost money in the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff were misled by his claims of being religious-in his case Jewish. That made people, who hopefully have now learned better, know that just claiming to be religious does not mean someone IS, or that they would thus be more trustworhy than someone who does not talk religion when asking for others to trust him, either when asking for money for investment, politics, or to “protect them from the gay agenda,” etc.

So Besen is right when he says that 2008 taught wise people that religious people are not morally superior to those who are non-religious. And in fact to be doubly cautious when someone sanctimoniously asks you to trust them.

But the issue is a generic one, and certainly has been used to attack not only communists (and those falsely accused of being communist, such as early black and gay civil rights leaders) but Democrats who questioned President Bush' policies in Iraq, etc. Even Christian ministers have been accused of being traitors if they asked questions or spoke against some of the policies. But usually the argument is that you can't be "good" if you don't have religion-meaning the religion of the person making the assertion.

This is hard for homosexuals to deal with, as we try to support g/l organizations formed to change the policies in various churches, yet have to point out that those churches have been wrong not only on homosexual issues, but were violently wrong on supporting slavery, etc. The example Besen gives should be read by every black, hetero, male preacher: “As escaped slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass noted in his tome, Autobiography, the most devout Christians made tghe most brutal slave owners.” That is devastating to anyone who seeks to say “religion” is what ended slavery.

I also think it is true when Jim Toevs says. “We have changed the world forever” (same issue, l-2-09). He quotes (LA native, as I am) Tony Kushner as saying much of what Wayne Besen said recently, “Gay perestroika: a movement succeeds when so much has changed that there’s no going back.” When most people do NOT approve of anti-gay speech and actions, the religious bigots have lost and when people stop giving them money and approval, they will suddenly find a new pro-gay interpretation in whatever translation of the Bible they are currently using-as the Mormons have done with their book and chief twice, first giving up overnight polygamy and then suddenly accepting black priests as ok. And as even the Southern Baptists had to do when confessing their error when they supported slavery and racial segregation, quoting the Bible.

He rightly points out also that “Racism still exists, but the African-American civil rights movement changed the world forever. Sexism still exists, but feminism changed the world forever. Homophobia still exists, but we have changed the world forever....A movement succeeds not when everything is perfect but when so much has changed that there’s no going back.”

But to remind us of what we still need to do, you give us Diane Silver (Political IQ) with her list of things still needing to be done, such as gay marirage, and will members of our community/movement keep working for change or will “Stonewall 2.0” just slowly die of apathy?

But the next example, of dealing with personal issues of sexuality, shows that SGN covers issues few other publications do. I refer to Dave Tangent’s article talking about how to deal with ourselves (and others) when we do what we think is wrong-cheat on our spouse/partner/mate.

And next is the old issue of words/terms. Gerald Libonati wants to know why we call heteros “straight.” I would point out, by the way, that while Toevs is good, he has done what PC people do, changed the term for black Americans, since obviously when the civil rights movement was going full speed African-American was NOT the term most people used. It is almost disrespectful to those brave men and women, of all races, who risked their lives and didn’t spend a moment’s time arguing over the right term, negro or colored was irrelevant to the demand that all Americans have equal rights.

And I wonder how your readers think about the sad coverage given to a sick person threatening some gay bars in Seattle (with ricin). The generic question is, do we give “him/her” publicity, which may be what they seek, by covering the threat, and maybe keep people from bars, or do we NOT cover it and risk people complain later that they had no warning? But it seems that today the law enforcement people are trying to protect the community where in years past they would have ignored the threat and even made fun of us asking for protection.

Along that same thought, should the gay leaders having a meeting to prepare for future projects keep their meeting secret, as Rex Wockner discusses (these are articles from the l-9-09 issue)? I assume the thought was to keep our enemies from knowing the plans. Sadly, it seems, for our nation too, that enemies spend more time thinking about us that we do ourselves, so they will probably learn before we do what ideas are talked about. It seems some gays have a need to pump themselves up-like many politicians-by leaking the news and getting on the nightly tv news, etc.

And it is good to mention that Campbell Soup deserves our support for not backing away from ads in gay publications because of right-wing religious nuts attacking them.

And another generic issue is Gerald Libonti’s question about if “Hollywood shapes public opinion.” Psychologist and media experts have been asking this question for years. The hope is that “good” characters and story lines will lead the public to accept a black president and gay equality, but then what if “bad” characters will lead our youth to be criminals, if they see glamorous stars portray bad people.

But on a personal note, probably one I'm not alone in discussing, I understand Leslie Robinson’s pain when she says she doesn't know how to do a website, and perhaps use the internet to full advantage, yet may get some help from some 7 year old, who seem to know the system very well.

Then there’s another article/column that touches on a sort of hidden side of our community, the people who seek dangerous sex, with hustlers, as discussed by Simon Sheppard.

Then Madelyn Arnold again reminds us of how painful some religious people can be when she remembers her 15th year and Bible Camp and hatred coming from the preacher against homosexuality. It is somewhat less painful today as she sees the general good will coming at Obama’s presidency.

And hopefully some people are still interested in reading books, so will find Richard Labonte and Jesse Monteagudo's columns of interest.

Are there such discussion of all of these topics on gay TV, such as LOGO?

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