Tuesday, November 13, 2007

READ IT AND WEEP

Please see the following post on Pam's House Blend, entitled, "Black pastor, comes out, is tossed out, and moves on," that brings into sharp relief the malignant hatred in most of the institutional Church and, in this case, the "Black Church," that shows the trememdous disconnect between claiming to be an agent of Christ's love and the figurative stoning to death of a heroic pastor who came out to his congregation.

It is noteworthy that the main reason for the founding and continued existence of the Black Church is the racism that has historically and continually been visited upon Afro-Americans and, in turn, those very same Afro-Americans, claiming to be Christians, turn around and discriminate against Gay people.

I wrote the following comment on my friend Don Charles' blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr in regard to his post entitled, "The Miseducation of Donny McClurkin," that I commended to you on my post of November 5th. The following is an edited version of my comment that I think speaks to much of the strident homophobia that infects the Black Community.

Most of the institutional Church not only inculcates shame, but handsomely profits from it as it is that very shame, that very feeling of unworthiness, that it promises to expiate if it deems appropriate (as occurs in the RC Church), and that shame enables most of the institutional Church to control the very thoughts and self-worth of people, linking them with their "spirituality" as they define that term, thereby helping to maintain its own control over the "spiritual" and emotional lives of people.

I think a large part of the reason for the perceived (and the need for their perceiving) gender polarity and their discrimination against those who exhibit, or are thought to exhibit, some elements of both genders as (although not exclusively) seen among many Gay people, is that due to a history of discrimination and a history of humiliation visited upon Black men in the U.S., there is an excruciating sensitivity to the belief that those who have been so humiliated and discriminated against must assert that they are, in fact, "real men," and not in any way Gay, which in their minds can vicariously feminize them in their own minds and in the minds of others (so they fear); that mind-set, born of their history of humiliation, and their often current unappealing life-circumstances, further feeds into the reality of their actual and perceived humiliation, and, thereby, feeds into their belief that to be Gay (for males), or even affirming Gay people, is to not be a "real man."

Since so many homophobic Black men can't vent their rage against those who have humiliated, and are humiliating, them they vent it on those who hammer home to them and to others, by their very existence and by their being "out of the closet," the fact that many Black (and other) men can be "real men" and still have aspects of both "male" and "female" within them, which is certainly not restrlcted to Gay people, although from most people's point of view those obvious traits are brought into sharp relief by Gay men (and Gay women, although lesbians aren't perceived as much of a threat to one's masculinity).

Hence, Reaction Formation occurs where those who are the most insecure about their own masculinity, and anything that they perceive poses a threat to it, are the ones who are the most homophobic, as Gay men bring to their consciousness their lack of feeling like "a real man" who can have control over his and his family's life and life-chances in society; their history of being the recipients of discrimination, humiliation, and oppression has left them a legacy where they must prove themselves to be "real men" and affirm to others and to themselves that they are, in fact, "real men," and not like "those people" who aren't "real men" like they are.

Hence, their need to vilify Gay people! And, that vilification is provided "justification," as in most of the institutional Church, by appeal to the Bible; an appeal that rings hollow when one, in fact, reads and understands the Bible!

Most of the institutional Church, and most Black churches, feed into the need to be "a real man" so as to affirm one's dignity as a Black man in a society that has shown African-Americans appallingly little of that dignity in both the socioeconomic and the personal aspects of many of their lives.

And since it is in the Black churches that such affirmation is largely received, and is expected to be received, their rampant homophobia is seen as being consistent with that affirmation; their blindness to the fact that homophobia is diametrically opposed to Jesus' life, work, teachings, and ministry serves them all too well.

Anyone who is a professing Christian and puts Jesus on the back burner by his/her condemnation of LGBT people, or anyone else for that matter, has truly shown what god he/she actually worships!
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4 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

A very sad story . . . one I was somewhat familiar with . . . but not surprising. I harbor no illusions about the vicious nature of heterosexism in Black communities. Any pastor who'd have the integrity Benjamin Reynolds did would be ousted just as he was. In my opinion, he's better off not shepherding a nest of hardened bigots, but I'm sure he doesn't feel that way. Well, the Savior said the way of the true Christian would be thorny at times, didn't he?

Pam's post has a response from "Radical Russ", one of her regular contributors. He expounds on the shocking and offensive comebacks he lobs at Bible bigots. Maybe that kind of exchange makes him feel clever, but it does nothing to encourage tolerance or combat ignorance. His attitude, I suspect, is typical among self-described "queer activists" . . . you can't change the hetero-fascists' minds about Gay identity, so just have fun giving them the nasty finger. Well, it's not about changing their minds. It's about making them respect us as human beings. That's what the African-American Civil Rights movement was all about . . . demanding respect. Do crass jokes about cunnilingus generate respect? I don't think so.

Jerry Maneker said...

I totally agree! Giving the proverbial finger to homophobes does nothing to win hearts and minds of civilized people who are sitting on the fence regarding full and equal civil rights for LGBT people; only provides fuel for the fire of the hatred directed against LGBT people; does nothing to coordinate and motivate meaningful activism that will garner social and political support for those rights; merely gives many LGBT people opportunities to vent, but keeps them in the public mind as being, and representing, "outsiders" who are not like "regular people."

Vitriol is no substitute for activism, and many LGBT people and allies make the mistake of equating the two. Psychological immaturity, political apathy, and settling for incrementalism will continue to retard the acquisition of rights, rather than further those rights being realized!

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry, you can't help yourself . . . I start a conversation with you, and the next thing I know, you've written an outline for a future blogpost! This point you make about venting as a substitute for meaningful activism . . . you simply must elaborate on that, both on your blog and Pam Spaulding's. It's a criticism that's sorely needed, and that's the unvarnished truth!

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Don Charles. I'll try to work on such a post.