Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Kill yourself for Jeeeeeeeezus!
This is beautiful. Well, not exactly beautiful, but powerful and undeniable.
JesuslandI don't know nothin' 'bout Jeeeeeezus, but I can't believe he'd want anyone preaching hate in his name. I especially can't imagine he'd want anyone committing suicide because they were being hated in his name.
By Max Gordon
There is a thirteen-year-old boy in America who walks to school this morning. He believes he is a pervert because he is sexually attracted to a boy in his class. Undressing in the locker room for gym, he is terrified he will get an erection or his friends will notice him staring at the other boys and call him a homo.
At night, he lies in bed. He promised God he wouldn't look at pictures of naked men having sex anymore, but he did it again after school. As a punishment, he pinches his penis between his fingernails until he breaks the skin. He believes the pain is good for him. It is only a fraction of the pain that sinners feel when they go to hell, or what Jesus must have felt on the cross.
He sits in church on Sunday and knows the priest is referring to him: deviants whose unnatural desire will keep them from entering the Kingdom of God. When he takes communion, he prays that God will heal the sickness inside him and make him clean and perfect like his Son. He promises to try even harder not to sin than he's ever tried before.
After failing again, he decides he has no more tries left in him. He cannot stop the thoughts or change them. He believes God is disgusted with him and that He refuses to help. He stands looking in the bathroom mirror and wonders if he is what a homo looks like. He thinks of his youngest sister coming home from kindergarten with school papers tucked under her arm, and wonders if the boy from his class is in bed sleeping. He lifts his father's gun and shoots himself in the head.
On January 2, 1997, 14-year-old Robbie Kirkland committed suicide after struggling with his homosexuality for four years. His mother said at the time, "Our family loved, supported and accepted him but could not protect him from the rejection and harassment he experienced at his Catholic schools." On May 8, 1995, Bill Clayton, 17, took a fatal overdose after being hospitalized for depression. He'd been assaulted by a group of boys in his community because of his sexual orientation. Jacob Lawrence Orosco, 17, hanged himself on September 3, 1997, in his mother's home. When Jacob and nine of his friends tried to form a Gay/Straight student alliance at his school, a group of students at a nearby high school formed SAFE - Students Against Fags Everywhere.
Anna Wakefield, a lesbian in her 20's from Virginia, hanged herself on February 27, 1997, after being rejected and estranged from her family; Private First Class Barry Winchell, 21, of Kansas City, Missouri, was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat on July 5, 1999 after rumors that he was gay spread around the post; Steen Fenrich, 19, was killed and dismembered by his stepfather in a homophobic rage, his body found March 21, 2000; Juana Vega, 36, shot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 11, 2001 by her girlfriend's brother, for "turning his sister gay"; Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old transgender woman from Newark, California, savagely beaten to death on October 3, 2002 by a group of boys at a party; Sakia Gunn, 15, fatally stabbed at a bus stop in Newark, New Jersey, May 11, 2003 after her assailant was told she was a lesbian; Fred Martinez, Jr., a 16-year-old Native American high school student from Cortez, Colorado, found beaten to death, June 21, 2001, his skull crushed with a rock. His 19-year-old killer was heard to have said proudly, "I bug-smashed a fag."
I marvel at the vogue of hate today in this country; who you can freely hate these days and who you can't. You can hate women, and gays, and fat people. You can hate poor people, and the homeless. You can't, however, hate black people or Jews anymore, at least not on television or in print. (You can still hate blacks privately, but Jews are harder; some have blonde hair and it isn't easy to tell if they are in the room.)
Jesusland, can you honestly say, with all that is wrong in the world today, with millions of people infected with HIV and thousands of new infections each year, with record unemployment, families with no healthcare and billions spent on war, that the greatest moral challenge we face in America today is symbolized by a wedding cake figurine of two grooms?
Is homosexuality contagious or reaching epidemic proportions? How else can the sexuality of one section of the American population singly decide the outcome of an entire presidential election? Only one conclusion can be drawn: Gay people in the heartland are doing some serious fucking. I only wish someone had let me in on it. I thought we were supporting Kerry by voting for him. If gay sex is really that powerful, screw the oil in Iraq, Halliburton should be hooking us up to generators.
Is homosexuality so irresistible that straight men and women are leaving their homes, mesmerized and in droves, to join the gay ranks? The few straight friends I tried to seduce in my post-coming-out insecurity remained politely, but resolutely, straight. To all those who tried to manipulate me into being heterosexual to further their agendas (my mother), I remained resolutely, sometimes impolitely, gay. One might conclude from this that people are what they say they are and we can all get on with things.
Not in Jesusland. Three little words, one tiny sentence, and the best friend's face closes forever, the child is lifted from the lap of the favorite aunt, a mother sends her son his baby pictures with a note saying she no longer has a child, a girl runs away from home to escape her parents' attempts to "beat the devil out of her", a boy is forced see a psychiatrist and take medication to fix his "problem", a transgender teen hangs herself to avoid being ridiculed at a school assembly the next day.
America: you do not have the right to throw your lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in the garbage. You have a responsibility to protect us whether you like us or not. If you do not approve of gay marriage, do not attend gay weddings. It is not your prerogative to decide who is worthy of your care, or to deny protection to anyone. As American citizens our protection is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
We are in a holy war, a fundamentalist Christian jihad, where the possibility exists as never before that Jesusland will finally become Jesusworld. (I wonder what the rides will look like.) With a faith-based president who doesn't respect the Constitution as separate from his belief in God, there is no difference between extending democracy and extending Christianity. Once you free a citizen for elections, you have to free a soul for salvation.
Because my homosexuality, however, is dictated not by fashion or trend, but biology and DNA, I couldn't warp or mutilate myself into the desired new result. My naughtiness eventually outweighed my niceness and I was in deep shit. I wasn't told to leave, exactly, but knew that if I wanted to, I could stick around for a sort of exalted pervert status; the old "God loves you, homosexual, because He loves us all - even child molesters, rapists, and serial killers" line that some Christians think is generous.
There isn't an oppressed person alive who at one point or another hasn't felt the seductive gravity of capitulation. The decision to resist always means thrusting oneself into the vast, unknown and dangerous wilderness of truly being free. One is tormented, at the same time, by the grim suspicion that while a secure existence may never be found in self-determination, a designated place always awaits one who will succumb to the State.
The violence against gay people, religious, emotional, physical or political, has done what social violence is supposed to; it's driven us underground, afraid to demand our rights or protect them when they are threatened. One good, well-publicized, gay murder can do wonders. Those of us who aren't brutalized or obliterated in elaborate campaigns by strangers or our families, are perpetually trapped in nets of chronic shame; our internalized hatred simplifying the work of the bashers by beating them to it.
I was a thirteen-year-old boy in East Lansing, Michigan on his way to school in 1983, attracted to a boy in my class, and flooded with the shame and terror that I was gay. My father also kept a Smith & Wesson in his closet. I don't believe I would have used it on myself, but a gun in any house has an aura of potential, waiting for the fatal chemistry of an escalating argument or a very, very bad day. What I did have was a lesbian friend in high school, who, one could say, "died for my sins." She came out of the closet first and when I saw that the coast was clear, I came out after her.
She was humiliated daily by notes shoved in her locker or jokes made as she walked down the hallway. Girls came up to her in groups during lunch and asked, "Are you gay?" to which she replied, "Why, are you interested?" Leaving a gas station one night, a boy, spurned by her refusals, called her a dyke and punched her in the face. She didn't allow the violence to derail her. I don't think Jesusland would have approved of her - a sassy, courageous, I'm-scared-to-death-but-you'll-never-know-it, 17-year-old black lesbian - but Jesus himself might have.
If Jesus is with us, I think he stands beside the black man who faces the lynch mob, the midwife who is brought before the church for being a witch, the bewildered and naked prisoner cowering against his cell wall in Abu Ghraib, the transgender teenager who has decided to dress as herself, no matter what her parents or the kids at school do or say. Jesus stands with all of us, but He especially knows what it's like to be innocent, to be violated and murdered for telling the truth, to face a violent mob and be alone.
America. If only you would purify your hate. When we walk into someone's country and wish to take what they have, let's just take it. Why call it liberating the Iraqi people or Operation Iraqi Freedom? Call it stealing and steal it. If you want to kill someone, don't refer to pre-emptive strikes or wars on terror. Kill them.
And if you want to hate homosexuals, Jesusland, just hate us. But don’t call it a "moral" or "family" issue, or try to legislate it and say, "I still support civil unions." And for Christ's sake, please stop dragging Jesus into it. Hasn't that poor man been through enough? Whether we believe He was the Savior or not, I think we probably all agree that He was a pretty nice guy that loved all kinds of people and never meant harm to anyone.
If He were alive to see this land today, I don't think He'd claim it.
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