June 17, 2012
Drag Queens, ostentatious, over the top displays of sexuality and militant protest actions are an undeniable part of early gay history in the United States. Those that took part in the Stonewall riots in New York as well as members of the progressive Mattachine Society are recognized by the gay community today for their brave actions in standing up for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The American government was not, and certainly today is not, quickly recognizing the equality of its gay and lesbian citizens. Rights were fought for by our gay forefathers and today gay people are joined in this struggle by straight allies. While I am not a big fan of gay pride parades which take place all over the world, I understand their place and the importance of displaying the variety and diversity of gay people everywhere. From Dykes on Bikes to Log Cabin Gay Republicans, there is a place for everyone.
In many churches of this country, there is no place for gays and lesbians. One Protestant pastor wants gay men and lesbians to be walled off from the rest of society in high fenced containment areas complete with barbed wire. Another pastor counseled the fathers in his congregation to beat their sons if they “seemed gay”. A North Carolina congregation joyously applauded a very young child for signing a song that included the words “ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.” A Baptist preacher called upon the US government to “kill gay people.” A leader in the Christian conservative movement recently compared gay people to cannibals, who eat the faces of homeless people. Truly, I could not make this stuff up and so the links to the stories are included at the end of this reflection. While the media is certainly focusing more on these types of sensational stories in light of the current gay marriage debate in this country, is there any doubt that the level of hyperbole has reached a new level? All of this at a time when an increased in the number of murders, triggered by anti-gay bias has been reported. (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) Is there a correlation between anti-gay violence and anti-gay messages from the pulpits of Christian congregations?
The Orthodox Church also has its zealots in this area. In Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, Gay Pride celebrations have had tremendous difficulty recently. The organizers of pride celebrations have met with heavy opposition from government forces as well as the Russian Orthodox Church. The pride celebration in Kiev, Ukraine was cancelled after violent actions from the “far right”. In Moscow gay pride participants were arrested for simply unfurling a gay rainbow flag while others were brutally knocked to the ground and beaten for holding up gay pride posters. On several of the video reports one can see Orthodox priests speaking to the assembled, not calling for calm, but condoning the actions of those committing the violence. In another video one can find members of a Cossack group, holding crosses and icons, marching with church banners while sprinkling the gay pride participants with holy water. Orthodox priests were seen throwing punches at gay rights activists in Tbilisi, Georgia. Instead of urging respect for human life and beginning a dialogue with the gay sons and daughters of the Church, the “official” Church remains silent. By its silence, the Orthodox Church in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and other predominant Orthodox countries is complicit in these illegal acts.
Outing can be a dangerous practice that involves publically proclaiming that an individual, who has kept his or her sexual orientation a secret, is gay or lesbian. It has been used particularly on politicians who while voting against legislation that would protect or grant equal rights to members of the LGBT community, are gay themselves and lead double lives. The hypocrisy of their actions is brought to the attention of others, especially the voting public. Perhaps it is time to practice this in the Orthodox Church. If you spend any significant amount of time among bishops and clergy of the Church you soon discover their personal faults and frailties. While we all “miss the mark” and are guilty of sin, detestable are those leaders of the church who with their voices speak out against the very actions that they themselves indulge in. There are those bishops and priests who condemn gay pride celebrations and yet carry on secretive gay relationships. What hypocrisy! I am not sure if Jesus would march in a gay pride parade, but I am fairly certain what He would say about those who condone and encourage the violence committed in His name, especially about those promoting the violence are gay themselves. If those Patriarchs, Archbishops, Metropolitans, Bishops and Priests continue to speak out and act against gay and lesbians, it might be time to out them.