*Disclaimer This Will Be A Long Post*
The other day I wrote that I would dedicate the next 7 days addressing homophobia, queerphobia essentially lgbtq phobia and reactionary gun laws etc and the Stanford rape case. Especially addressing the rape culture of this country. I couldn’t meet that personal demand, I found the writing to be to hard. So here it is one day later, I will follow up with part 2 in a day or so, who knows. Here’s the post, enjoy!
How would I go about this endeavor, I’m thinking? I’ve really never did this till today. I’m thinking that I only write when I’m overwhelmingly compelled to write. I look for excuses to write at times. Then Saturday happened and I read the news on Sunday morning. Now I’m writing and now I’m searching…What can I do, can I do anything?
The one outlet I have always had was writing. I love writing. I never loved it enough (or thought that I loved it enough) to take classes for it. Well, that’s not entirely true, I took a creative writing class when I was at Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2003. That was a powerful class. I remember reading the poem of Claude McKay “If We Must Die” and being compelled to write like him. His poem read like a declaration a voice to say toward white racisim and the race riots that were happening, we are not going away, we are not going away silent. Here’s the poem,
If We Must Die
BY CLAUDE MCKAY
If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursèd lot. If we must die, O let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
This poem was powerful because it marked the stance, a tough stance that McKay and others like him took, as far as choosing to fight back against racial segregation, rather than continue to wait and hope for the white folks to empathize. This was in 1919 during a wave of massive race riots and lynchings. McKay’s response toward taking the offensive and fighting back, was rooted in his background. McKay was born in Jamaica and grew up knowing of the stories of Paul Bogle and Sam Sharp and how they led a 13 day rebellion against the slave owners, who showed their resistance and internal organization to be free, but they were crushed. Having only farming equipment etc to fight, they were shutdown by the landowners and slave masters weapons. McKay, then and now today gives us a message that is poignant for our times. We have to fight back.
How should we fight back? I think fighting back would be for everyone absolutely everyone to come out and support their gay brother, sister, father, mother, etc family members and friends this Pride in NYC. I am in New York/New Jersey so I’m encouraging support here in the city. But, by all means support where you are at. Also, I believe there is power in conversation and story telling. So I’m going to use the remainder of this post, to reflect on my experiences in queerness such as the queering of JP Ross.
Let’s go! From the time I was ten years old I have wrestled with the fact that I was sexually abused and actually enjoyed oral sex from a man, I enjoyed oral sex from a woman as well, but there terrifying reality was, the being into the man thing. It was absolutely a death sentence to say out loud that you had an experience, you were a little boy but it was another older boy/young man and you enjoyed it, meanwhile your whole world view is fucked because initially it was not consensual.
I’ve wrestled with that for years and years and years…In 2003 I had a brief relationship with another man. I felt that I needed to come to grips with this whole sexuality thing. You know I had a great time, when I was with him. But, I could not maintain the relationship, I was scared so scared. I wanted to be in a heterosexual relationship and yet I was happy with him. I have beat myself up for that for years. There were nights that I would stay up with him and we would travel far away from Brooklyn where no one knew us and be “safe”. He would share with me that in his country he would be killed for being gay. I felt like such a jerk, that I had freedom of choice it seemed. I too wanted him to be happy but hearing that he would be killed for being gay, was awful, where did my christian beliefs come into this. I really didn’t know. I felt that he was a great man, and that his sexuality is his own. I was so much in denial meanwhile engaged in a relationship with a man and thinking I”m still straight. That I’m only “bent” because of my abuse, but I’ll get “normal” and all of this will be over.
See that’s the thing for many people and including myself its never over, because your sexuality is your sexuality, your beliefs are your beliefs. I’m older now and don’t care who thinks what about my individual beliefs in liberation theology and queer theology. I’m a christian yes. I’m not straight but queer yes. I’m wrestling with it everyday yes. I still believe in God yes. I don’t go and hurt people because I’m struggling. In your very own family there maybe people who are in the closet, there maybe people who are scared to embrace all of themselves. I’m here to say yea. It’s so hard. I don’t want to embrace all of myself for sure. I’m scared of what I’ll see.
Maybe what I will see will not be gay, or bi, or straight it might be a ? Being queer to me is political its a political stance to blur the binary mentality of this country and anthropocentric, androcentric male driven identity. It’s the political action of getting messy and dirty and allowing everyone to embrace love and fun in their own way. I say I’m queer because I’m not exclusively bi and I’m not sold out on being straight and I’m open other expressions. I think for me, queer is empowering and helps me to think I don’t need to know, but I do need to love and be loved. I never really found comfort in absolutes. I thought I did and then I fell in love with expressions of anarchism and how liberation theology can lead us to dismantling paradigms of violence and exclusion. The world we live in is blurry, it’s not all all clear. It’s not a straight or gay world its actually a queer world. A world of unknown’s and uncertainties. It’s beautiful and I love it, and I want to embrace it more and make it my own. I want to do it, for those who lost their lives in Orlando and for my friends that risk safety by just being themselves. I want to embrace it for those in the middle east who are living in fear of death for being themselves. The authentic self God created them to be.
You may disagree with me, and please do. But, don’t neglect someone don’t use your power or status to nullify someone else, don’t use your fear to hurt someone else who is fearless. Don’t for the love of God, act on your own internal homophobia etc. It’s so hard and even harder, it’s hard to love yourself in this system and society but it’s time. Come out live! Let your self hatred go, embrace yourself and I will do the same. We are all on a journey we might as well be free. Ultimately, as a christian and future pastor, the teachings of Jesus Christ were intended to be liberating, the perichorasis or trinity of God in the christian tradition to a love relationship between the three. It’s wild, the bible is crazy, let’s not take it more serious then we need to.
But, when something like the Orlando shooting happens and these innocent 50 plus human beings are killed and 50 plus injured because of internal homophobia and denial and ideology that supports violence over reconciliation and laws on gun ownership that make it easier to get a xbox 1 and a assault rifle at the same time and walk out of Wallmart. There is a massive problem.
I love God, I love the church. We are broken. We need help. But I am where I am. I thank God there are spaces for folks to go to where they can feel honored and accepted. I wish that every church was like that but it’s just not that way. The church has such a shadow side. But, we are trying and there are ministers that do relate and there are queer churches for you. Like the one I was in, I never shared really about my sexuality because man, that’s like a journey and I only share this now, because my extended human community in Orlando that lost their lives, gives me courage and some balls to say, I need to embrace all of me. I need to preach love, acceptance, civic responsibility and social accountability for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, classism, xenophobia, I have to do all I can.
So I wrote this post because on June 26th in New York City will be the PRIDE parade and I want to believe that this year wil be the biggest yet, this year will be the most queer amazing beutiful one yet. this year will be the one that brings out straight allies and men and women who stand in solidarity with their other sexed neighbors and says you are my family, please forgive me for allowing shittiness to happen to you, can I be a part. Can I stand with you? I apologize since I myself am still learning about me, I tend to have a worldview from a cis straight white male perspective. I’m trying though to open the conversation or at least give others some ideas including myself on what questions to ask. Or maybe, it’s just that people need to be kind and stop thinking about where you pray or if you pray, or where you lay at night or who and with whom you lie with. We need to get over ourselves and “mourn with those that mourn and celebrate with those that celebrate”.