More than a gay Christian
October 28, 2011 | 10:56 am
(Updated: January 17, 2013 | 2:37 pm)
Everyone knows the boyish face of Hal Sparks – that geeky, quirky, Queer-as-Folky icon famous for his role as a subdued bottom boy on HBO, and as the animated host of Talk Soup. These days he’s busy touring the country on a laugh track. In case anyone doubted his opinionated, outspoken personality, watch him bowl through a litany of jokes about race, sexuality and gender. Very funny. Very politically incorrect.
And yet, often right on target.
In a recent performance, he went off on a tirade about the objectification of women. It’s wrong, he quipped, but let’s not pretend that women don’t participate. They buy into the objectification and keep it going, he said.
Though he never took the tirade past gender, it struck me that his bold social commentary has application in the LGBT community – and, for that matter – in Christian communities.
Homosexuals of the 21st century are generally not subdued a lot. Our voices are loud and proud, shouting out a self-evident truth: “We are gay!”
And why shouldn’t we proclaim it to the world? It’s a step forward from previous generations that languished in silence, pretending away their sexuality so that it wouldn’t become a personal or professional stumbling block. No more: we’re out, and we’re proud – for the most part.
Yet, it’s deeply ironic that our plea to be equal citizens is stunted by our insistence on continuing to declare our sexuality to the world – even after large pockets of society have embraced it. Where once we kept it painfully hidden, we now shout it loud and clear, hesitant to embrace our uniqueness within the context of being integrated members of society.
Which is where Sparks comes in. I think his point on objectification has some bearing for the LGBT community. That is – we bemoan our treatment in society as “separate but sometimes equal” while also insisting that we remain “separate.” In other words, we participate in the segregations we seek to destroy. While I would never advocate a dismissal of what makes us who we are, I ask: is our sexuality too much of our identity?
Lest anyone believes that this is unique to the gay community, it’s worth pointing out that many a Christian community suffers the same irony. Christians are not always just good citizens, driven by morality and good-natured kindness; we often make it abundantly clear that we are Christians first and foremost. Then we turn around and complain that all society can do is pigeon-hole us into some unfair, one-dimensional religious profile.
While I dare not dismiss the complexities of either community’s history, I can observe tendencies. They are worth being aware of if we’re going to successfully implement social change and enjoy true acceptance. And how do we do that? By living well-rounded lives inclusive of our sexuality and faith, investing ourselves in our individual passions and skills. It’s not about doing away with sexuality, but embracing it as part of who we are.
All this talk about objectification and pigeon-holing is really about identity. Too often we respond to those who curse our religion or our sexuality by shouting back in their faces. What often follows is an argument that defines us solely by who we fall in love with or where we go to church.
Does it really matter what ignorants say about our sexuality or religion, though? Better to live our lives fully, and remember that we are human beings above all else. In living full, rich, well-rounded lives, we show society that yes, we are gay and yes, we are Christian – but a great deal more than that. We love and believe as strongly, as powerfully and as honestly as anybody else. And we are more integral to the growth and flourishing of society than society itself will sometimes admit.
Though that, too, will someday change.