Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NALT and Re-Centralizing Christianity in Queer Discourse (Part II?)

I lovingly consider this a part II because I already wrote about Christian privilege in queer spaces back in January when I talked about the annoying number of God and Bible related workshops at the queer events I was going to.  Workshops and groups pleading with people to understand that (Christian) God doesn't really hate us are absolutely nothing new, yet time and time again some queer Christian [or group of queer Christians (or, even worse, ally Christians)] decides more of us need a good education on the finer points of the Bible.

So now we have "NALT," or "Not All Like That," a "new" project by Dan Savage and some less-famous people which is pretty much the "It Gets Better" campaign but with Christians.  The point, as Laura Bradley decided I didn't already know for some reason, is to "counter the myth that one can't be LGBT and Christian."
What if a queer is Christian?  Then that queer is Christian.  You'd think this question had never been posed before the way people involved in NALT talk about it, but seriously.  This is not a new and original topic.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard a queer Christian say something like "I'm a gay Christian which is NOT an oxymoron!" I would have enough to at least buy a nice sushi meal or something (if I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody say "holy shit you mean that's NOT an oxymoron?" I'd be broke).

Even then, those "blah blah not an oxymoron" comments are up there with "I'm like the only gay man looking for a monogamous relationship and not just hookups!!!1" where people make bizarre assumptions that something incredibly mundane and common about them is unique.

As an intermission, you can watch this commercial for the United Church of Christ that came out years ago that is ridiculously unsubtle.

NALT didn't start this.  It's been a common conversation for years.  It's been common because Christianity is a majority faith that is already talked about ad nauseum in minority communities.  This is one of those times when I just want to yell out "You are a member of an oppressive majority.  We don't need more discussions about your needs."

Is there a place for Bible-based discourse among queer people?  Sure.  Queer Christians need affirming places and discourse.  The problem is, that sort of thing already exists in great abundance because Christianity is already such an overrepresented topic.  Queer people put on workshops, build websites and blogs, and tweet about this all the time.  Although regionally there are issues finding local people, there are plenty of resources out there if you want them without staging a huge resource-sucking campaign (and this wouldn't solve the problem of local antagonism anyway).

But it's not just because this isn't a new and original topic that this grates on me so much.  It's that it centralizes Christianity's self-identified universality, sucks up resources specifically to aid privilege, and shames people who do choose to convert because Christianity or Christians have hurt them.

There are lots of people who left due to emotional pain.  Ironically perhaps, I wasn't one of them.  I converted from Christianity to Paganism for no reason other than Paganism resonated with me.  But having been a Pagan over half my life I have certainly met many who converted because they were seriously hurt by Christians who wouldn't accept them for being bisexual, lesbian, trans, or gay; as well as people who have been denied faith services by their former churches or important social services.

There's nothing wrong with that.  Nothing.

You know what the gist of this campaign is to me?  It strikes me as a bunch of Christians who are more upset about the fact that queer people leave Christianity than they are that Christians hurt queer people.  If this weren't the case, why are they targeting their audience the way they are?  Why is the entire focus of their campaign on proving that not all Christians are dicks and not calling out straight Christian bigots who give that impression?  Is there any other reason other than some creepy queer Christian missionary project stressing out that maybe their religion isn't hot shit?

I'll let you in on a secret that's not a secret:  Converting religions because the one you were raised in made you feel like shit is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  It doesn't matter that they're "not all like that."  You are not obligated to be Christian.  If you are uncomfortable with Christianity because you have had really bad experience with it, then leave.  Leave for a different religion, leave for a different Christian denomination, it's your choice.  That is your right and something that should be affirmed, not treated like it's something so very, very sad and regrettable that we have to create a campaign to end it.