It’s 2019 and I would like to say I’m surprised to still be having this conversation, but I’m not. This year alone, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to have this conversation with religious folks, especially Christians. Now, I grew up a practicing Christian so I know all about blindly using my own belief system to judge others who are living or “sinning” differently than me. This is a strong part of Christianity in Liberia.
A colleague of mine recently published a piece on LGBTQ+ folks where he made an all too basic stance about the lives of millions of people around the world- “I don’t hate it, but I don’t support that lifestyle”. Now for me personally, words like that are triggering. Most of my experiences with homophobia have either been deeply personal, both online and in person, or in public places where I have been able to remove myself from the toxicity. I understand how incredibly blessed I have been. So I personally can’t relate to the queer people who have been violently ripped from this earth by homophobes, or the queer people who are living with the most gruesome scars inflicted based on hate.
But what I can relate to is the fear. It is constant, and cuts across a lot of intersections like gender and socio economic status. Fear for our lives and safety, fear of losing employment, fear of getting assaulted, raped, arrested, bullied….this list is endless! You go out everyday knowing that to express your love for whatever sexual preferences you have, or to express your own gender identity or lack thereof, is to put your life in actual danger. To be yourself, to exist as you are, is an act of defiant revolution that could either kill you or leave you broken. That fear, coupled with the weight of blackness in places off the continent, and you have panic attacks waiting to happen.
You have people who would rather die than exist in the lives that should really only belong to them. People who are clinically depressed, heavily self medicating, and/or risking their lives in unthinkable ways, in an attempt to at least fit one box society has built for them. People who are literally living in war zones where their trauma don’t even cause a ripple in the tide of the world’s everyday life. You have people nobody show up for, people whose lives and bodies are seen as invisible, disposable, their very existence like a game of tee-tah-toe, all because people “don’t agree with that lifestyle”.
That right there is the problem for me.
Asserting yourself in a space of dominion, of self righteousness, standing on your god complex to render judgement on actual human lives based on your own interpretation of the Holy Books. How sway?
If I remember correctly, the 10 commandments mention nothing about Christians being the gatekeepers to heaven, or loving someone of the same sex being the best 1 way ticket to hell. It’s not even on there. But what is, are the instructions to not kill, and to love and treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated.
To the passively homophobic Christians, do you understand how much damage you cause? How much fuel you add to the hate fire? The middle class haters are the voters, the leaders, the law makers, the church people; they are the family members of people whose true selves will never see the light of day; they are the coworkers outing their colleagues; they are the people gutting queer bodies and lives to appease what they believe to be the gods in them. You saying “I just don’t support it” gives power to the people devilish enough to use violence as the way to heaven and I believe most of them will be shook on whatever day the rapture happens. The Bible does say that on that day each person will answer for themselves and not the lives or “sins” of the people who they judged. And while I understand the appeal, if I was someone trying to be a righteous Christian, I’d spend more time trying to tailor my life according to the teachings and instructions of the Bible, than on making sure everyone else is sinning and living exactly like me.
On the issue of support, how many of us buy tickets to games where teams we don’t support are playing? How many of us buy tickets to go see artists we hate? How many of us will go on a shopping spree and buy shoes all 2-3 sizes smaller? Not many. Because the average person should understand that their time, money and energy is their currency, and generally spend them on things they like to do, things that bring them some kind of comfort. So I am always struck by how much time and energy people spend expressing negative opinions about things they claim to not care about or support.
Why do you think it’s your place to “give your blessings” or dub someone else’s entire existence worthy or not of support? Or judge others based on your own preferences? I personally prefer for my sexual and romantic partners to be women and with skin color like mine. I do not concern myself with women who prefer men, or men who prefer men. I don’t feel the need to tell them, or anyone for that matter, that I don’t support their choices and their freedom to love because it simply doesn’t concern me. It’s one thing when the issue being discussed is something as nuanced as white supremacy or xenophobia, where the actions and choice of expression bring actual harm to others, and it’s a whole other ball game when people are up in arms about how two consenting adults choose to have sex.
Where in history has queer love destroyed lives and property or brought about violence? What is the threat? How does the sex life of consenting adults affect the general Christian population? What are people so afraid of? I think we all need to have honest conversations with ourselves regularly because many of us are out of touch with reality. We need to address our own biases and internalized hate instead of relying on the Bible to justify it. Ask yourself, “Where does the need to judge and/or control the lives of others come from?” and you just may be confronted with the hard truth, it’s simply not your place!
Authored by Fanoraine Dohr
Featured Picture by ADL