The Christian Left and the Christian right who disliked my last article cursed it (and me) for the same reasons. Many of those in this union didn’t read the article, but that never gets in the way of a comment on a blog, social media or my in box.
A few days ago I published an article about how the Methodists will not affirm LGBTQIA people. The article went on to become the most read in TransParent Expedition’s history and one of the most read in Patheos the day of release. Having been a columnist since 2004 I knew that with greater readership would come greater criticism. What I did not expect was the two most critical of the article were people from the Christian right and the Christian left. Furthermore, they were mad at the same things.
In 2011 I once had a meeting with one of the people from the Christian Left. She had influence in the organization back then. I told her my concerns about the tactics they use and how in some ways they are the opposite side of the same corrupt coin. She agreed with virtually every point I made. I was so relieved. In excitement I asked her,”So are you gonna move for change?” She told me no. She said they have crafted an identity which is resonating and growing. To change the “brand” would hurt the brand, but thanked me for my concerns.
What I said to her in 2011 has shown itself to be even more true in 2019. The following were the concerns regarding my column.
Why Are There So Many Letters in LGBTQIA+ ?
Progressive and fundamental Christians both complained vehemently about this issue. The general themes of this could be summed up in the following paraphrases of so many.
- All of these new letters! Who can keep up? They need to stop this! Also, I identify as a banana because I think I am clever.
- How dare you use LGBTQIA+! You should use queer or gay or abomination! You are an idiot.
This came from multiple sides of multiple streams of Christianity. The pro gay and the anti gay to be specific. No one who made these complaints addressed any of the content in thc article. The article is about a great many things and covers important topics regarding religious harm and inclusion. It even covers life and death issues of suicide and murder. There was zero commentary about the content, just the initials.
I have multiple reasons for using LGBTQIA+ as my go to in referring to the community. Michael Gold of the New York Times explains far better than I could the ABC’s of LGBTQIA+ and why he choose that term.
There are many media style guides that address writing about the queer community. Some of these include the AP Stylebook, National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, GLAAD Media Reference Guide (10th Edition) and The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. There are many acceptable ways to refer to the greater queer community as well as unacceptable ways.
The terminology I use is not the most popular one, but it is the one I have elected to use for a variety of reasons. If someone uses any of the accepted terms in these slightly differing sources, I do not bat an eyelash. However, should an unacceptable term be used, then I will write a letter to the editor or question their journalistic or editorial ethics and integrity.
If you want to criticize me for using the wrong term, please have a legitimate resource showing me I am using the wrong term. If you cannot, you are merely doubling down on your favorite acceptable terminology based on nothing more than your opinion. Finally, if you are just not comfortable with new letter or terminology because you think the terms are moving too fast for you to “keep up”, you are often either a poor ally who wants all queer people and their families to behave on your terms or merely a spiteful person who found yet another thing to be sarcastic and willfully ignorant about.
That Horrible Picture of Happy People!
The headline photo I chose and was given gracious permission of the photographer (Russell Reno) was from the 2012 Pride Parade in San Francisco. I chose it because it is a celebration of colorful people who are judged for being their fabulous selves marching right by a Methodist church. The reason for this photo was that it shows the queer community does not need the approval or support of the church and they will move forward regardless of the choices the Methodist church makes. Life is outside the walls of their church. Acceptance and celebration already exist and it is arrogant for the UMC to not only deny but to accept. The UMC has no right to vote on the dignity, beauty and rights of people.
Now to the complaints. The people in the above picture have been called bad stereotypes, freaks, and other things. My favorite was DRAG QUEENS has been used in all caps by both a Christian Left person and a Christian Right person. I have been told by people on both sides that I should not use imagery that is so flamboyant or sexually charged.
The complaints I received about the use of this photo says a lot more about the people complaining than it says about me. They also either do not realize or do not care that they are also insulting the beautiful people in the above phot0.
I went through all 190 articles in TransParent Expedition. In just the headline pictures, 89 (46%) feature queer people. 8 pictures (4%) feature original art from LGBTQIA+ people. Of all of these only 3 photos (1.5%)show people in parade style regalia. Those who want to levy the claim that I am highlighting stereotypes are not only wrong, but they are doing three things.
- Making a baseless accusation on me without researching the body of my work.
- Denying that this is a part of the queer community and just because Christians do not like it does not mean we should shove this expression back in this closet.
- As already pointed out, your discomfort says more about you than it does about me, the photographer or the lovely people on the float.Again. The people who levied this complaint so viscerally made no mention of the content of the article. One person, who has since apologized, seemed to celebrate that fact by starting their assault with the words “Even without reading the article…” and ends with the command to “GROW UP!!” That is a direct quote, I did not use the all caps.
Today’s photo are people paying homage at the “St George” Mural dedicated to the memory of George Michael. This mural has been vandalized and complained about by Christians of many different stripes numerous times. Despite that, people keep cleaning it up and keep leaving flowers, paying homage, and writing messages of hope and beauty with chalk. The community will march on, write on, and dress as they will in spite of what Christians say. This is a photo of resilience, beauty and bravery despite what Christians say and do.
Other Complaints and Insults
The rest were mostly the usual array of complaints and insults. From the right there is misgendering, accusing queer people of having mental illnesses, saying I am guilty of child abuse for affirming my child and wishing me a painful death with the occasional offer to assist in said painful death. On the left is is the usual array from slacktivist faux allies who run about criticizing everyone for how they support or fight for equality while doing nothing other than making inflammatory comments on social media. They say I am doing this allyship wrong and I am a danger to not only my child but the entire queer community. They sometimes wish me a painful death with the occasional offer to…..wait a minute! How about that! Another thing the Christian Right and Christian Left have in common.
My Faux Thoughts On Christian Labels
I need to express some faux concerns over Christians. Christian Left, Christian Right, Progressive Christian, Methodist, Progressive Methodist, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Catholic and so forth. Who can keep up with all these labels? Everytime I turn around they are telling me how to address them and there is a new term. Why can’t they all just say Christian?
Have you seen all the infighting? We need to talk about Christian on Christian crime. They hate each other so much.
And so many articles with someone wearing a clergy collar or a group of them in prayer at churches or at protests. What about all the Christian firefighters, librarians and everyday people? Why do you have to stereotype them this way? Why flaunt them in front of me and my child like that? How immature!
On a serious note of closing. I used 7 letters and one symbol. Depending on what study you read, there are anywhere from 9,000 to 33,000 to over 50,000 different denominations and expressions of Christianity. Each of these are theologically and philosophically opposed to one another in some way. Most of them speak as if they have all the answers even if the answers are there are no answers.
What I said about the Christian Left in 2011 was once a concern for a beautiful group that could be better. Now I can barely bring myself to read their commentary. Not just commentary on my content, but the content of queer and black columnists/authors that I am dear friends with.
My child is trans and a young adult now. They used to identify as a pastor’s kid until I got better and quit. Dave (my child), has often told me the wounds from the progressive and mainline Christians were more profound than the evangelical and fundamental Christians. The profound takeaway from that is the people who hurt my child and their peers most are Christians.
Saying not all Christians will not be a good way to start a comment. Saying we should go to your church is also not a good way to start a comment.
Listen to the people you claim to an ally for and read the columns you comment on.
I tire of Christians infused with keyboard courage seeped in anonymity. It is those people who ironically call me a coward when I say I am not going to discuss a matter with them.
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