When religious leaders preach their damaging interpretations of their sacred texts on issues of same-sex relationships or identities and gender non-conformity within and outside their respective houses of worship, they must be held accountable and responsible for aiding and abetting those who target and harass, bully, physically assault, and murder people perceived as LGBT. In addition, they must be held accountable as accomplices in the suicides of those who are the targets of these abusive actions.
We are seeing individuals and entire denominations framing themselves as the true victims whenever we challenge their religious justifications in their attempts to perpetuate their already pervasive Christian hegemony and social privileges, and their characterizations of others. Some proponents of the newest wave of so-called “Restoration of Religious Freedom Acts” characterize those who protest against these unnecessary and sham statutes as “religiously intolerant” and as “religious bigots.”
In the final analysis, our challenge remains in no way “religious intolerance” or “religious bigotry,” but rather, it amounts to our standing up to correct a devastating social injustice. It is not “religious prejudice” to challenge offensive, demeaning, degrading, marginalizing, persecution-resulting, violence-provoking, suicide-inducing characterizations of us.
So, to all of you who wish to debate the issues, go ahead. I personally, however, refuse to debate my existence on religious grounds ever again with anyone, since there is no “debate,” for to quote Rene Descartes, “I think therefore I am,” period, the end.
Possibly in the future we may see some real change in some of the more conservative religious institutions around the country. For me, though, I would like to see genuine support, nurturance, celebration of difference, and not mere “tolerance” or “acceptance,” which implies there is something to accept, as if a superior being deigned to regard an inferior being. This feels extremely condescending and patronizing. It seems very nobless oblige.
I understand that we as a society have come a long way even from the time I was a young person, and we still have far to travel. What can never be forgotten, however, is that as racism is white peoples’ (my) problem and obligation to eliminate, heterosexism is a heterosexual problem, and cissexism is a cisgender problem. The dominant group has the responsibility to dismantle the forms of oppression that bestow upon itself the multiple array of unearned privileges not accorded to those outside, who are often viewed as the “other.”
One day, maybe, we can truly and fully forgive you, but I can never forget.