Yesterday, Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain clashed with Piers Morgan about whether or not people are born gay. Here's the video:
The important thing to know is that Cain sets out saying that "homosexuality is a sin" because of his "Biblical beliefs," but Morgan quickly steers the conversation into "born this way" territory, outraged that Cain won't concede his point. Cain's response: "What does science show? You show me evidence other than opinion, and you might cause me to reconsider that... Where's the evidence?"
I have a confession to make. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, and when I was much much younger... I was a fan of contemporary Christian music (CCM). Oh, yes. I reailzed just how much of an affront to music it is almost half of my life ago, but lately, I've been thinking about just how entrenched it is in the ideology of the Christian Right. Consider this awful 1995 track by Twila Paris called "Rescue the Prisoner." (The "prisoner," it turns out, is a member of the LGBTQ community who is said to be "demanding rights" and "defending wrong.")
In May, Religion Dispatches published my first interview with former darling of the Christian contemporary music scene, lesbian singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp. Then over the summer, I got to meet and interview Knapp in person while covering the Wild Goose Festival, an event that celebrated (predominantly Christian) spirituality, justice, and art. We talked a bit about the limitations of Christian music, feminism and sexuality on the same day she filmed the "It Gets Better" video below. I'll be critiquing some evangelical Christian music later in the series, so I'm very excited to share unpublished parts of our interview with you here today:
One of the first squares I always fill in "Hateful Conservative Press Release Bingo" is the one devoted to references to child abuse or to the claim that queers are more likely to abuse children. This perpetually debunked claim is almost always trotted out in national debates about providing queer-inclusive sex education. It is a disgusting lie that puts children in danger by preparing them to be wary of a mincing stereotype instead of real sexual predators, most of whom identify as heterosexuals. It is unclear at what age the Traditional Values Coalition would think mentioning that queer people exist would be appropriate, but my guess is their answer would be "never" and "shut up about it."
Now that the confetti has settled, the media is starting to move on from the modern fairytale. But there are some people for whom the royal wedding was an experience they'll never forget, in all the wrong ways.
June is LGBT pride month, commemorating the multi-day standoff at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, 1969. When I've marched through the sticky heat of Washington, DC's pride festivities, I find myself wishing we were commemorating something in April, but the Stonewall riots are probably the best touchstone to choose, so June it is.
As commercialized as Pride festivals are these days—and here I note the full inclusion of a Frito-Lay truck having an actual float in this year's DC parade—it's easy to forget the moments that have been hard fought in the last 41 years. When I first came out in 1991, I thought gay marriage would never happen in my lifetime, and as of today, it is legal in five states and the DC. We have progressed further than I thought possible, and in other ways, we have barely moved an inch. [More]
After the National Equality March wended its way through the nation's capital this past October, the New York Times ran coverage of the event under the headline "Gay Rights Marchers Press Cause in Washington." A year earlier, in the midst of California's Prop 8 battle, American Apparel debuted its "Legalize Gay" t-shirts, which were scooped up by supporters of gay rights, gay marriage, gay adoption, and gays in the military. After Prop 8 passed, comedienne Wanda Sykes came out. She was very proud, she said, to be "gay."
At the risk of seeming pedantic or quibbling, one might pause to wonder what ever happened to the word that once seemed to march so firmly hand-in-hand with "gay." Whither "lesbian"?
Believe it: pro sports just got more inclusive. Laura Ricketts is now an owner of the Chicago Cubs. She is also an out lesbian who serves on the board of Lambda Legal, which is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
This means that the Cubs have the first openly gay owner in Major League Baseball's 140-year history. What's more: Ricketts is the first openly gay owner of any professional sports team in the United States--football, basketball, hockey, and soccer included.
For at least the last thirty years (and probably more) my mom has been a faithful viewer of The Young and the Restless. For several years in there I was too - my earliest memories involve eating the peel from her apple while watching the show. Without fail, my mother has taped every episode, even if she's watching it live, in case she is called away. Great woe awaited the daughter of hers who accidentally interfered with its taping on the VCR every once in awhile - though always the result of a mistake my mother acted as if I had deliberately planned the ruin of her day. Vacations are organized with an eye to how my mother will get to catch up on her show. Nowadays I'll only see glimpses of it when I'm home, and not much has changed: Victor is still endlessly remarrying and divorcing Nikki, Jack Abbott still has an abundance of sandy blond hair, and there is always, always, a rhinestone somewhere in the frame.
I'll admit that despite all the wooden acting, the stilted dialogue, the unbelievable marriages and remarriages and devil possession plots, I did, for a while, succumb to the hypnotic power of the soap opera. There is something reassuring about them, the same people there every day, without fail, missing only a few major holidays a year, never changing and always predictable. And I can see, very well, that they broke up the monotony of housewivery for many women. Moreover, soap operas have occasionally displayed a penchant for progressivism: most recently, they've been introducing gay and lesbian characters with little judgment, and more than a little reverence.