President Clinton was hailed by the liberal media as “the first black president”–on the basis of his soulfulness, sexual appetites, and other racist stereotypes–even though there would be an actual black president a few years later. Now Newsweek is hailing President Obama as “the first gay president” with a cover story by Andrew Sullivan about alleged affinities between being biracial and being gay. (Never mind that gays had been disillusioned with the president for not doing anything for them until his recent announcement that he support gay marriage.)
I think this is ridiculous journalism and unfair to President Obama. What gets me, though, is the cover. In an extreme version of media hagiography, both of Obama and of gays, the president is adorned with a halo. A rainbow-colored halo.
In what has to be one of the most dramatic turnarounds in moral and cultural history, gays have acquired the status of sainthood, while those who oppose homosexuality have acquired the status of evil villain. Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness; now homophobia is considered the mental illness. Gay sex used to be considered a vice; now it is assuming the status of a virtue, while disapproving of gay sex is considered a vice. Conservative Christians have liked to think of themselves as “good” (despite their own theology); but now they (or we) are demonized. Gays, though, wear a halo. Not that everyone believes this, but this is the projection of both the elite and the popular cultures, whose influence is permeating everywhere.
How do you account for this turn-around? How did it happen? Why? Are there lessons that Christians can learn from this before the persecutions begin in earnest? And, to play the Newsweek game, might Christians someday become the “new gays”?