That guy on the streetcorner cooking stew and hanging out with his boyfriend isn’t homeless: he’s the performance art activist grandson of famous (or infamous) televangelist Oral Roberts:
It’s a vaguely subversive idea—the antithesis of the “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” ethos, a strategic divorcing of homosexuality from sexuality, a tent-revival effort to de-fabulize gay stereotypes. Yet the subversiveness extends far deeper than that. If any of the onlookers look closely enough, they’ll notice a black-and-white portrait on the coffee table. Some might recognize the man in the frame: the late Oral Roberts, America’s original celebrity televangelist and faith healer, the Oklahoma preacher who rammed Pentecostalism into the American mainstream and the taproot out of which bloomed Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jim Bakker. No doubt those keen-eyed onlookers will presume this to be a cheeky jibe, an ironic detail tucked mischievously into this Ozzie-and-Harriet tableau. But it’s not. That’s Randy’s grandfather in that photo, the man whose influence on American life and politics Randy is quietly—and often painfully—trying to upend.
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