The Father, the Son, and the semi-automatic assault rifle

I’ve been struggling with what to say about Orlando. I have so much sadness but it’s mixed with so much anger that I can’t tell them apart. They taste the same in my mouth. I need a word for that. A word that means, “sorrowful rage.”

I hear this massacre isn’t an LGBTQ thing. It’s about mental illness or religious radicalism or easy access to firearms in a country awash in them, but it could have happened anywhere. A movie theater or a coffee house or a sports arena. It’s distasteful for gays to make this about them. But it didn’t happen in any of those places. It happened in a gay nightclub because it was a gay nightclub. Of course, this event is about mental illness and religious radicalism and too many guns, but it’s also very much about being LGBTQ. The hatred for LGBTQ people is the thread that ties all those other things together in this case. No, not thread. Rainbow ribbon.

The shooter, it is now reported, frequented the club and was active on gay hook-up apps like Grindr. He liked the boys and liked dick. Maybe not to the exclusion of women, but he was definitely on the Kinsey scale above a one. And he hated himself for it. Hated himself so much. Why? Where does that come from? My kids don’t hate gay people. They don’t fear them. One of my kids identifies as bisexual and does so in a very open and heathy way. Why are my kids well-adjusted about sexuality while the shooter in Orlando was as unadjusted as possible?

Religion.

His faith teaches that gays are an abomination. Subhuman. He was raised being told that by his clergy and his dad. By his friends. But it’s what he was. This kind of cognitive dissonance will make some people kill themselves. Some others will live sad, stunted, hateful lives. Others, the fortunate few, will come out from under the spell and build a life of freedom from religious bullshit filled with love and friends. A few buy assault rifles and walk into gay nightclubs to kill as many people they can. Literally killing the part of them they’ve been taught to hate. To abhor. There is a grim logic in their actions.

Impossibly, I find myself feeling sorry for the shooter. For the pain he endured and the pain he caused as a result. I didn’t think it possible. I don’t know where it comes from. But there it is. The fact that he clumsily associated himself with those who personify on earth the extreme intolerance for things like homosexuality was nothing more than an attempt to find a fire hot enough to burn it out of himself. But this isn’t about ISIS. They’re a bit player in the drama and are accidentally benefiting from the kind of publicity they crave.

So I am not actually mad at the shooter. But I am mad. Furious. Seething. At who?


On Saturday, Mike Huckabee and those like him, if asked, would have told you gay people are going to burn in hell for their perversion. That their push for marriage equity would destroy the family and a trans person’s need to urinate  would lead to children being molested and woman attacked. On Sunday, though, he was praying for them as victims. In the fucked up algebra of a far-right shitbag, the only thing that’s worse than a club full of happy faggots is a radicalized Muslim shooting at them. Good to know.

While the good governor was running for US President last year, he and fellow governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Ted Cruz shared a stage with a man named Kevin Swanson who literally called for gays to be put to death. Today. In America. He didn’t say it at some fuzzy distant time. He said it that fucking day just before inviting the three of them onstage to share in the limelight. And they just let him. Because political points are worth more than the lives of LGBTQ people. Because pandering to a hateful audience of zealots, calling for innocent people to be killed for how they were born, is the course of action most expedient to gain their support.

And then these sons of bitches have the fucking nerve to PRAY for the victims. The shooter was Muslim, but he was playing their tune. And so they prayed. For the victims. The ones they either explicitly or implicitly called for. Mike gets the spotlight here, but he’s hardly alone. Any moralistic asshole in government who grovels for votes and campaign contributions from radical Christians and then decries the very acts their benefactors called for the day before is a sad, disgusting son of a bitch. The blood of the victims in Orlando is on their hands. It’s on their clothes and fills their shoes. It’s soaked through their very souls.

And it’s not a fringe thing with the Christians. Today, Pat Robertson on The 700 Club said, “The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.” Someone’s going to need to give me a decoder ring or something because I can’t tell the radical Christians from the supposed “normal” ones.

But, you might say to me, I’m a Christian. I’m not like that. We’re not all radical nut jobs. Problem is, as a person with many Christian friends and who’s active on social media, I never see one of them calling these bastards out. I never see them say they’re perverting the word of Christ. I see Muslims dragged out before cameras every time one of theirs loses his shit or ISIS or whoever bombs a plane or shoots a passerby. That’s expected and required, though many non-Muslims will still try and frame Islam as a religion of hate and violence. As if their holy hands are clean, which they are not. Not even a little. But the only time my Christian friends come out and say anything is when they’re afraid of being lumped in with those who are damaging their holy brand. And they do it without any self-awareness that it’s the exact same fucking thing they do to Muslims every goddamned day.

Jon Stewart once said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” And we laughed. But it’s true. It’s fucking crystal truth. Our love of imaginary sky friends and the things we invented for them to say outweighs our own humanity. Our human decency. Our fear of death causes us to make a deal with the proverbial devil to despise and distrust and dehumanize others whose holy texts tell them to hate and distrust and do violence in only slightly different ways. I’m sick to death of it. Almost literally to death. Had I been in that nightclub, it could have meant my death.

There are 49 dead people in Orlando who were in their safe place. The place where they could be themselves and celebrate that and each other. And a religious nut job came in and slaughtered them. And he did it for his god. The same way Pat Robertson and Kevin Swanson think it should happen. The very same. They are the same.

Sin

I’ve been told that in polite conversation you should avoid discussion of religion and politics. Well, we’ve already breached the religion thing (and besides, how polite can this conversation be since I’ve shown you maybe a hundred pictures of my privates and told you about the things that’ve ended up my butthole).

A reader calling themselves Purple left a lengthy riposte to my entry from the other day where I went off on Amy the bigoted homophobe. Purple, it seems, is using me and this blog to research a bisexual alien character in some fiction they’re writing. Yes.

Their comment starts out well…

I’m a Christian, though I’m starting to prefer follower of Christ because I don’t want to be lumped in with idiots like Amy. People like her piss me off to no end. She may claim Christianity, but she does NOT behave as we’re instructed to behave. She is an embarrassment to my faith. People like her have done so much harm to the LGBT community, and to many other people groups, and heaped more pain and hurt on a group of people who are already going through more pain and hurt than any person should have to deal with.

Yes, fantastic. Go on…

It’s easier to hate someone because they’re different than show Christ’s love to them.

Um, OK. I get that. Good on you for sticking to your teachings. The best Christians are those who take the “Christ’s love” angel rather than those who get so much attention nowadays. You were saying…?

Do I believe homosexuality is a sin? Yes, I do. But it’s between you and God. Not you and me.

Oh. It was going so well, too.

To be fair, they said a lot more and you are free to read it all yourself. In fact, please do. I’m in no hurry.

Indeed, Purple was saying many things that seemed more in keeping with the Christian ideals I admire than Amy was by a long shot (as far as I can tell not being one), but I have to stop and say something about sin. Because it makes my brain boil.

Homosexuality is supposedly a sin. Supposedly. The Ten Commandments don’t mention it, but the Bible is full of stuff we’re not supposed to do. So let’s pretend it calls homosexuality a sin, too (even though there’s ample room for debate on that). It seems to me that most of the things the Bible calls out as sins are choices. Adultery, stealing, getting tattoos, eating pork and shellfish, wearing clothes with tears in them or made of cotton-poly blends, trimming your beard, being uncircumcised, working on the sabbath, and — my personal favorite — being raped if you’re a virgin. There are lots of these things. All choices (like that being raped thing). All bad. Apparently.

Two points I’d make.

First of all, as I said in the post to which Purple was commenting and pretty much every person on Earth knows about the the Bible if they know anything at all, good Christians do things all the fucking time that are disallowed by the Bible (like eating cheeseburgers). They have made choices to ignore those rules. Ever had a part-time job on a Sunday? Making cheeseburgers? At a place that disallowed facial hair? Triple whammy. And why not? Because they’re stupid, right? I mean, what creator of the known and unknown universe worth his/her/its salt would give a flying fuck if I decided not to look like a guy from Duck Dynasty? He/Her/It has nothing better to do? So, if it’s the case that we already pick and choose the things we want to follow from the Bible (and the biggest one we’ve chucked overboard is the whole remarrying after adultery and divorce thing), why not homosexuality? Why not? I want an answer to that.

Second thing is, of course, homosexuality is not a fucking choice. If it is, and you’re a straight dude, go suck a dick. Show me what a choice it is by spreading your legs and getting to know the joys of anal sex. We do not have choices in what we find sexually appealing. Zero. We can choose to bury those feelings and let them build and fester and gnaw away at ourselves and our wellbeing, but that’s not the same thing at all. No matter how hard he tries, Marcus Bachmann will always be a giant queen. Nothing he can do about it.

Personally, I think the “homosexulality is a choice” thing is rooted in the experience of bisexuality. If you’re a bisexual, you actually do sometimes have a choice. Not the kind I am, of course. I could only be happy married to Belle (or, to be technical, some other woman, but Belle’s my favorite). But they’re not all like me. And even if they were, they might easily confuse their sexual attraction to men (if they’re men) to be akin to what a true homosexual feels toward other men. As if sex acts and who we have them with are the only axis to the sexuality spectrum. A good boy growing up in a good Christian house goes out for the football team and enthusiastically dates a cheerleader (oral and anal only so they can stay virginal) but, when he’s alone in his bed and jacking off, suddenly finds himself thinking about his coach or the team captain or how the wide receiver’s ass looks in his uniform or all those guys in the shower and all of a sudden BAM! homosexuallity is a choice. Bullshit.

What kind of god creates people to be a way that is sinful? By default? So they they can never know happiness in their lives unless they “choose” to be sinful? What kind of bullshit is that? This isn’t the same as cutting your beard or eating bacon. This is deep, soul-filling stuff. Not just fucking. Emotional fulfillment of the highest order. I want an answer to that, too. How can living as you were created be, in itself, sinful in the eyes of a just and worthy god? You may as well call left-handed redheads sinful. It’d make as much sense.

The real problem with the line “homosexuality is a sin but between you and god” is that it’s a slippery slope to other kinds of evil. Gay parent? Teacher? Doctor? Child? What’s off limits in how those people are treated by good Christians? Thankfully, we’re moving past the point where simply being gay was enough to deny someone custody or visitation rights to their children or the right to work, but it’s not like that everywhere in this country. Not yet. Not by a long shot. And if you’re the good Christian parent of a gay or trans child, there’s nearly nothing you can’t do to “fix” them. All because homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of a god. That’s where it starts. It is the root of all that evil. All that pain and misery.

We are not ignorant people. We have science that tells us things that were previously heresy. The earth is not the center of the universe. It is not 6,000 years old. Humans are not the only “people” who have lived upon it. Homosexuality is not a choice. The genitles we are both with do not define the gender we are.

We have outgrown the need for sin.

The only thing we should take from the Bible is the best part of what Purple talked about in their comment. Love. Mutual respect. You know, the Golden Rule. If we just followed that and let consenting adults doing no harm to others live as they need and want to, then the world would be a much better place.