Immersion based reporting has exploded in recent years with authors like A.J. Jacobs, but for one new author the immersion experience took him on an unprecedented journey, and it all began with two words: “I’m Gay.” In his new book, “Jesus in Drag,” Timothy Kurek dared to go where no conservative Christian has ever gone before, attempting to test years of teaching within the conservative denomination of his youth. The book releases Oct. 11.
Timothy, just how far did you go for the research of this book? Who did you “come out” to and what was their response?
I came out to everybody! My friends, family, everyone. When it all began I wasn’t even doing it for a book. I just knew that I needed to understand, as realistically as possible, how the label of gay might change my life. The social experiment itself demanded all or nothing. I knew I’d have to fully engage in order to understand, so there were only a few people that knew what I was doing.
Every coming out story I’ve ever read or heard share one common trait: fear. Fear of the reactions and the great what-ifs. With that in mind, it was essential that I experience the same realistic fear and apprehension that comes with making the declaration that I was a gay man. In all of my life I’ve never been more nervous, or physically and emotionally shaken than I was standing in front of my family when I came out.
A trio of recent videos has shown anti-gay bigotry on full display with American churches. First, there was pastor Sean Harris in North Carolina who counseled his congregation to “punch” the gay out of any children who show what he characterized as gay traits. Then a second pastor in North Carolina, pastor Charles Worley, was shown suggesting that gays and lesbians be rounded up into camps and put behind electrified fences where they will die out because they can’t pro-create. Finally, yesterday, there emerged a video of a child in an Indiana church singing that there are no “homos” in heaven.
I feel no responsibility for the actions of Protestant pastors and the odious bile they spew in Christ’s name. I suspect the Master will have something to say to them at the judgment seat. But, these episodes do display the need for the Catholic Church to differentiate itself from such hateful bigotry as clearly as possible.
It is less than fifty years since the Stonewall riot, which was to the gay rights movement what the storming of the Bastille was to the French Revolution. Fifty years is a long time, but in the life of the Church, it is a drop in the bucket. The bark of Peter is a big boat and big boats can only turn slowly. But, the bark of Peter has a long reach. In the article by Ambassador Melady and Rev. Cizik, regarding the need for Christians to fight anti-gay bigotry in Uganda, we can see the value of cultivating better relations between the Catholic Church and gays: The Church can influence events around the globe, in places where it is more difficult to be gay than in lower Manhattan or San Francisco. Even if gays look at the Catholic Church and see nothing but a huge impediment in their struggle for equality and societal acceptance, a bit of prudence combined with a sense of solidarity with gays in other parts of the world, might suggest a less hostile posture.
This could be any other courtroom scene from a mainstream Indian drama except that the heroine the audience is cheering for is a hijra, or eunuch, named Anu (based on the real-life transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi), demanding to know why hijras aren’t allowed ration cards, even voting rights, merely because the government can’t decide which gender they belong to.
CHENNAI: Recently, transgender activist Anil Sadanandan, also known as Mariya, was murdered in Kerala. Fellow activists say it was a hate crime. Two years ago, trans-woman Sowmiya from Chennai committed suicide. Unable to complete her education, she had turned to sex work and begging to eke out a living and was dependent on alcohol.
Short documentaries on the lives of Sowmiya and Mariya will be screened at Colors of Sexuality: Chennai Queer Film Festival 2012 to be held from June 1 to 17. The festival is part of the Pride Month celebrations to be organised by Chennai Rainbow Coalition, a collective of groups that work for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
“Films help us take our concerns to a wider audience,” said Kalki Subramaniam, founder, Sahodari Foundation, which works for the transgender community, at a press meet on Friday. “I had spent time with Sowmiya and Mariya and had video footage of them. So I thought of making films on their lives.”
Apparent White House division over gay marriage – with Vice President Joe Biden saying Sunday that he is “absolutely comfortable” with the idea, going further than President Obama has on the issue – mirrors a nation that is evenly divided on the matter. Recent polls show that about half of Americans favor legalized gay marriage, while half oppose it, with support for the idea gaining significant ground over the past 15 years.
Pew’s latest polling on the issue, conducted late last year, found that 46% of Americans support favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 44% are opposed. Support for gay civil unions is substantially higher, with a clear majority of Americans supporting such arrangements.
Almost one fifth of Taiwan’s gay and lesbian population have attempted suicide, a new study claims.
Taiwan may be considered relatively accepting of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents, but a new study suggests many in the community continue to feel heavily stigmatized.
A new survey co-sponsored by the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association of Taiwan found that 18 percent of the nation’s gay population has attempted suicide due to discrimination, while 30 percent have considered taking their own lives,according to the AFP.
Among the other surprising statistics found by researchers: 68 percent of 2,785 LGBT people said they felt pressured by family expectations that they will enter into heterosexual marriages, while 58 percent said they had been targets of verbal harassment, physical violence and sexual abuse. According to Focus Taiwan, other pressures result from negative media reporting of gay issues (57 percent), the public’s expectations regarding gender roles (49 percent), the expectations of older generations and company bosses (44 percent), and verbal and physical abuse (39 percent), the poll found.
Wang Ping of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association criticized the nation’s Ministry of Education for failing to follow through with a decision to include gay issues in school curriculums. “Taiwan’s lack of education on homosexuality has led to the aforementioned results,” Wang told the Taipei Times. “To build a multicultural and equal society, gay-friendly education and legislation are very important, as fair treatment is not a privilege, but a basic human right.”
Minn. State Rep Steve Simon brought the Legislature to a pause this week with these remarks about God and gay life that have gone viral on video.
According to the Associated Press, Simon, a Democrat, spoke out against Republican efforts to set up a vote next year to lock a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.
In the recording of a Capitol hearing on Monday, the St. Louis Park Democrat asked, “How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?”
That line brings applause and once order is restored, Simon continues to say that, as he sees it, sexuality and sexual orientation are not a choice but an innate “gift from God.”
CAPTIONBy Glen Stubbe, AP
So, if humans are sometimes, as Lady Gaga would say (Simon didn’t) “born this way” — then what? Simon suggests to his colleagues that they go home and think harder on another question:
How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether people living their lives as they wish, as long as they don’t harm others, is a Godly and holy and happy and glorious thing…I’m comfortable with a society and a tradition that bends toward justice, fairness, openness and compassion…
Simon concluded that generations in the future will view anti-gay legislation harshly.