by Courtney Harvey
I’ve been trying to write this piece for some time now. I’ve blamed work and travel and a lack of creative energy for my tardiness but the truth of the matter is I don’t have anything nice to say. Just for the record I find the adage - if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all – to be very compelling. In fact I tried my best to channel my inner Obama and write a hopeful and persuasive article about being an ally. Perhaps it’s the hour of the evening or the fact that I am way past the original deadline but I’m disregarding that good advice and going with – sometimes the truth hurts. Consider yourself forewarned.
So why don’t I have anything nice to say? Well for starters I’m over the whole queer thing. I know that sounds callous so let me clarify. I’m not over queer folk or queer issues. To the contrary I love them like I love ice cream, the more scoops the merrier. What I am over is the debate about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, the debate over whether or not to legalize gay marriage, the debate over whether or not it’s okay for Spongebob to be more than just friends with Patrick. I’m over it. In fact, the majority of my generation is over it too. We felt the same way about the “debate” over global warming. We didn’t wait for President Bush or Fox news or the guy from the 700 Club to utter the words global warming for it to become a reality. We didn’t wait for that and we aren’t going to wait for this. Case closed, it’s okay to be gay.
I’m so over it that I couldn’t even bring myself to write a nice story about being an ally because it felt a little too much like justifying once again why I am. Why do I need to justify being an ally? Shouldn’t they have to justify why they are homophobic? Shouldn’t they have to justify why they choose to translate some parts of the Bible literally but they still eat shellfish and wear polyester-cotton blends? Shouldn’t they have to justify their slurs or hushed whispers or disapproving glances or beatings? Shouldn’t they have to justify why it’s okay to support a gay bashing culture that terrifies the parents of gay children, that shames the little boy who loves to dance, that pushes the gay teen to suicide and that impedes the transgender woman from fulfilling her call to ministry? Why do I have to convince them, isn’t more love always better than less? In fact when Christ came I’m pretty sure his central message wasn’t to love less and identify people to ostracize.
So, I’m done and many in my generation are done too. We’re done with the gay debate because it’s not our debate. We’re done with the debate because engaging it gives credence to the debate itself. We may talk about the problems of racism today but we certainly don’t debate if it’s okay to be racist. Why then should we debate if it’s okay to be homophobic? The Bible argument doesn’t fly with us so don’t waste your time on it…especially if you’re a shrimp eater. Sinner! And the argument that it’s unnatural also doesn’t work for us because we know that it happens all the time in other animals. At this point I think the remaining argument is that it makes some people feel icky. Well, mullets make me feel icky but I still support the rights of people with mullets to get married.
I’m sure at some point throughout this rant you thought to yourself that in all my angry youth I have missed the value of those gentle conversations and nudging that has brought many people to the ally side. I have not. I believe there is great value in this but I do not think that it is my particular calling. In any social movement you have those great saints who work on the movable middle, the people that may be influenced by reason or compassion to shed their prejudices and join the struggle. To these people I pay my deep respects, but there is another group of people to which I belong. They are the ones who demand a new social climate simply by refusing to tolerate the current one, refusing to accept that this is the way it should be.
I can’t tell you when the tide will turn on queer issues in the U.S. or the world but I know I have history on my side when I say it is coming. And between now and then I don’t plan to spend much time in debate. My energy will be spent strengthening our queer/ally base, supporting those coming out and working with young people as they envision a new world. And I’m going to do this with the confidence that this too shall pass. Because just as a storm always passes so too will those currently in power in the government and in the church, and when they do, we’ll be ready.
So, in the meantime, in the space between today and tomorrow, I want to leave you with these words from Henri Nouwen, may they help to carry you as many of you have carried me. All I want to say to you is “You are the Beloved,” and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being—“You are the Beloved."