About Kate Kane

Former PHC student, pansexual and genderqueer. I’ll take my mask off someday.

Baskerville’s Homosexual Activist Nazi Comments in Context

Patrick Henry College grad David Sessions just published the entire text of the lecture on Scribd.

Read the entire lecture for yourself. A common complaint that PHC dissenters hear is that we’re “taking things out of context” or being “uncharitable.” In what real-world context do PHC Professor Stephen Baskerville’s comments about “homosexual activists” being “integral” to the rise of Nazism make any sort of sense? Baskerville barely provides any context within the text of the lecture, resorting instead to badly-sourced paranoid propaganda.

Suggesting that gay activists enjoyed power in the NSDAP precisely because they were gay is outrageous. If homosexuality was a ticket to political power within the NSDAP, why were 100,000 gay men arrested for homosexuality in Nazi Germany? About 50,000 of those served prison sentences, an estimated 5,000-15,000 went to concentration camps, and an unknown number went to mental hospitals.

I assume Baskerville can look these facts up for himself. But instead, he chooses to ignore history so that he can make bogus connections between queer activism and Nazism. Not only does he fail to back up these claims with any sort of credible evidence, but comparing people he disagrees with to Nazis is the worst sort of intellectual laziness.

The Faith & Reason lecture is advertised as being the scholarly event of the semester. Who approved this lecture? Because there were no dissenting voices on the panel following the lecture, should we assume that this is now the official position of Patrick Henry College? PHC leaders, please feel free to respond in the comments.

Patrick Henry College Professor Says ‘Homosexual Activists’ Were ‘Integral’ to Rise of Nazism

In a so-called Faith & Reason lecture delivered to the entire student body today, Patrick Henry College Professor Stephen Baskerville claimed that “homosexual activists” played an integral role in the rise of Nazism.

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I find it hard to understand how any academic could retain any shred of self-respect after implying that the Nazis and queer people were bosom buddies. This chart, for example, lays out the various triangular Nazi concentration camp badges that were used to categorize Jews, sexual offenders (which were primarily gay men), the Romani people, and those who were mentally ill, among many others.

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This quote was only one of many similarly inaccurate and deeply offensive statements delivered in the course of the lecture, the text of which is about 25 pages. Baskerville, who has made a career of railing against the “divorce regime” after a messy divorce in his own past, warned the student body against adopting a “theology of resentment.”

He also said that the AIDS epidemic has been exacerbated by “sexual ideologues, who sabotage effective campaigns for abstinence and fidelity in favor of ideologically inspired but useless condom distributions, resulting in further spread of the disease and millions of needless deaths.”

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Yes, you read that correctly. Distributing condoms spreads AIDS.

This sort of lying and misinformation is malicious and irresponsible. If someone chooses to be abstinent, that’s their business, but they shouldn’t be made to feel as though they invite death if they choose to be sexually active. In addition, calling safe sex campaigns a form of “sabotage” is ridiculous. The ability to know about and practice safe sex does not take away your ability to practice abstinence if you so choose. Instead, it provides you with more options.

Baskerville spews classic MRA and queer panic rhetoric for much of the lecture. He puts words like “rape” and domestic “violence” and “child abuse” in quotation marks, to suggest that straight cis men and fathers are being persecuted in a witch hunt full of supposedly false accusations.

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I’d like to say that I’m surprised that these sorts of comments are coming from a PHC leader, but I went to school there for four years. I heard rape victims referred to as manipulating liars, I was told that children’s rights was a ploy to take children away from their parents, and feminists were dismissed as ugly people who couldn’t get dates. So no, it doesn’t surprise me that a PHC professor would say these things, or that he would be met with thunderous applause.

But I do wish that Patrick Henry College valued reputable academic research and healthy discourse over demagoguery and targeted attacks. That Baskerville is even employed at PHC, given the poor quality of his research and rhetoric, let alone allowed to represent the college in a campus-wide lecture given to the entire student body, shows how little the school respects academic disciplines and its own students.

‘A Peculiar Synchrony of Message and Method and Timing’

I recently shared the full text of a letter that Dr. Graham Walker sent to Patrick Henry College Alumni about QueerPHC and the recent media attention. For the sake of brevity, I won’t quote the full text below. All text in italics is from Walker’s letter. Note: I use the term “homosexuality” because PHC rhetoric about LGBTQ issues is usually limited to the LG portion of the spectrum.

It seems that many of [the journalists reporting on QueerPHC] can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality. But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution.  Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.

Yes, thanks to the PHC Handbook, we’re well aware of where PHC stands as an institution. However, apart from such documentation (and the many, many verbal statements that PHC leaders have made about sexuality), the college’s position on homosexuality would be far less clear.

Walker and other PHC leaders would like to reduce the conflict about homosexuality to a fight between Christians and non-Christians, in which the non-Christians support “deviant lifestyles” and the harried Christians attempt to defend traditional marriage against the onslaught of abuse, divorce, adultery, marital rape — oh, I’m sorry, against the onslaught of the homosexual agenda.

The homosexual agenda.

Unfortunately, liberal Christians and queer Christians complicate matters.

Failing that, Walker attempts to explain this conflict as a struggle between those who take the Bible seriously, and those who don’t. In this mindset, taking the Bible seriously means believing in the inerrancy of the Bible, and believing in the inerrancy of the Bible leads to an immediate and obvious condemnation of homosexuality, also translated as “all that weird butt sex stuff.”

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that taking the Bible seriously means believing in its inerrancy. Plenty of Christians wouldn’t equate the two, but we’ll leave them out of this round. However, even after we’ve excised this portion of the Body of Christ, we still have a deeply divided group.

Pro-LGBTQ Christians who still believe in an inerrant Bible believe that culture and context are important to understanding the Bible’s “clobber” verses about homosexuality, and usually believe that those verses actually refer to temple prostitution or pederasty or (in the case of Sodom) gang rape. PHC leaders commonly use the rhetorical tactic of claiming that the anti-LGBTQ side is the only side that takes the Bible seriously, and that the Bible’s position against homosexuality is self-evident. As a queer Christian, I don’t believe the Bible is the sole property of anti-LGBTQ fundamentalists. I take it seriously, too! I just interpret those verses differently.

As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines.  Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now.  There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy.  All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.

When I first read this paragraph, I burst out laughing. “A peculiar synchrony”? What are we, the League of Extraordinary Queer Pajama Bloggers? (We’re printing the T-shirts now!) QueerPHC was not part of some vast queer conspiracy. We started the blog on our own, hoping only to encourage the LGBTQ students and alumni of PHC. Now we’re in contact with leaders of LGBTQ groups at other Christian colleges and universities. The support and encouragement we receive is phenomenal.

If there is any synchrony, it’s because many LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Christian colleges and universities realize that the time to speak out is now. We’re not conspiring; we’re organizing!

I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.  

The threat of a lawsuit, the denial of our existence, the accusation that LGBTQ students or alumni are liars because they signed an honor code — none of this is newsworthy in Walker’s eyes. This is erasure. Walker doesn’t think the school’s treatment of LGBTQ students and alumni matters.

But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles.  I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies.  I think of them as potential friends.

I’m just gonna leave this here.

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We’re Back!

Sorry to disappear on you for awhile. After the lawsuit threat and the ensuing round of media about the blog, the three of us decided to take an emotional health break to enjoy the holidays.

But we’re back! And we have a lot to catch up on. For example, a few weeks ago, the BBC interviewed us, and they also interviewed Michael Farris.

“There’s no doubt that people are in patterns of living and patterns of thinking that is generally described as a homosexual orientation,” Farris said. “There’s no doubt that some students will come through here that are tempted in that direction. But you can’t tell the truth in the admissions process, and can’t tell the truth relative to the student covenant and the statement of faith that we require of all students, and also believe that homosexuality is anything other than a sin.”

Listen to the rest of it here. We’ll be posting the full transcript and a response later.

And in the December update of the alumni newsletter, PHC President Graham Walker wrote this:

Dear PHC Alumni,

It’s always interesting and sometimes disturbing when your alma mater is much in the news.  What with articles in the Loudoun Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post, all characterized by a generally hostile tone, it’s hard not to be a little concerned.

It seems that many of the writers can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality.  But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution.  Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.

As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines.  Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now.  There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy.  All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.

I’m keeping in touch with your incoming Alumni Association President, Daniel Noa, to keep him informed and get his advice.  I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.  But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles.  I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies.  I think of them as potential friends.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Graham Walker
President, Patrick Henry College

In related news, Patrick Henry College’s Marvin Olasky recently interviewed Dr. Rosaria Butterfield, a pastor’s wife and Purcellville resident who identifies as a former lesbian. The interview is part of Olasky’s Newsmakers Interview Series. David Weintraub at Equality Loudoun had a few good thoughts to share about orientation and individual choices in light of Butterfield’s interview.

You can watch the full interview here. We are mulling over our response now.

Homosexuality: It’s an Orientation, Not an Action

When the story of Patrick Henry College Chancellor Michael Farris’ threatened lawsuit was picked up by various news outlets and blogs in the past week, we at QueerPHC braced ourselves for the inevitable response from the Patrick Henry College community telling us that we were unnatural, immoral, unbiblical, you name it.

Instead, the response from Farris was far more disturbing. He said we don’t exist.

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Like Queer Patrick Henry College on Facebook

First, a big welcome to our new readers. We had quite a spike in traffic yesterday. If you’d like to learn more about Queer PHC, please check out the About, Contributor, and FAQ tabs at the top of the page.

We now have a Facebook page, and you can click “like” to be updated every time we share a new link. You can also follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

Bishop Gene Robinson Reaches Out to Closeted PHC Students

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, of the Diocese of New Hampshire, recently visited the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with former congressman Pat Murphy about Robinson’s new book, God Believes in Love.

Robinson spoke with Queer Patrick Henry College after the presentation, and offered some encouragement to closeted students at the college. He’s used to such appeals for encouragement, and said he receives several emails a week from “some kid in podunk Idaho who thinks they’re the only gay person besides me in the world.”

“What I usually say to them is there’s just a big, wide, wonderful world out here, and it can be wonderful for gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender people,” he said. “And you may have to stay where you are, you may have to be quiet about who you are for awhile, but find a few people that you can be open with, that you can be yourself with, because it will feel like an oasis in an awfully dry desert. And then when it’s possible, get out into this big wide world and meet some of us who are having the time of our lives and are not held back by being openly gay.”

Robinson said LGBTQ people who grew up in conservative environments as he did, and as many PHC students did, can do a great deal of damage to themselves.

“The hardest person to come out to is yourself, right?” he said.  “We learned all the things that everybody else was learning, and we became alienated from ourselves, not to mention our parents and our families, and so on. I think it’s a really tough row to hoe, but find some oases to feed yourself along the way, and then join this community that’s waiting to embrace you.”

As a queer Christian, it’s hard to overstate the impact that Bishop Robinson has had on the lives of people like me. To see someone who is both openly gay and openly Christian take on a bold leadership role in the church is nothing short of inspiring. At Patrick Henry College, there’s quite a bit of talk about “leading the nation and shaping the culture,” and Bishop Robinson is doing exactly that, with his ongoing role in transforming the cultural conversation on queer people of faith.

Robinson is retiring on Jan. 5 and leaving New Hampshire to move to D.C., where he hopes to assist St. Thomas’ Parish in Dupont Circle in founding a new Center for Non-Violent Communication, with the goal of changing “the nature of the debate” in the highly political city. Color me excited.

The Rainbow Feelings Playlist

I survived Patrick Henry College with a pastel iPod shuffle and a pair of earbuds that I rescued from the lost and found bin, after waiting the requisite week to make sure no one else wanted them. Was that one of the more unhygienic choices of my life? Yes, but it was also transgressive in another way — it was the first time my music was both portable and private. For the first time, I could listen to whatever I wanted. And what I wanted was to feel all the feels, without judgment from someone else.

Growing up in a fundamentalist family, I learned five emotions: joy, contentment, godly sorrow, righteous indignation, and fear. By the time I got to school, I was somewhat emotionally stunted. Just as I did not have the words to express my sexuality until I got to college, I also had not learned the proper emotions. Through music, I learned to feel and desire things beyond the narrow scope of my childhood limitations. I learned to feel romantic love, giddy happiness, heartbreak, anger, and attraction.

As a child, I thought of “diversity” as a bad word. As I left my segment of the fundamentalist movement, I learned that not only did they fear everyone who was different from themselves, but they also feared the diverse emotions of a nuanced human soul. I had learned to assign one note to those I feared. But now I’ve joined the ranks of those I was once taught to fear, and I allow myself my own range of emotions, in a quiet rebellion.

I do much of that through music. And when I began coming out to myself a couple of years ago, I did that with the help of a soundtrack of queer artists. They helped me put words to deep longings and old hurts. One of my favorite bands is Tegan and Sara (yes, I am aware that I am a walking queer cliche), and I was ecstatic when I heard they were releasing a new album in the next few weeks. I particularly love the single “Closer,” in all its flirtatious danceability.

I think sometimes in all our arguments back and forth about gay marriage and the “homosexual lifestyle,” people forget that LGBTQ people enjoy playful moonlit tumbles on trampolines and making out in magical fantasy tents festooned with streamers just as much as the next hetero. In other words, we don’t always fit neatly into the categories that others have created for us, such as “staid married couple grows oregano in their window container garden,” or “glittery slutty homo seeks same.”

Our emotions and our love lives can be messy and beautiful and heartbreaking and full of flirtation and frustration and longing and caught breaths and skipped hearts, and we really want you to listen to us, but maybe it would be better if we just made you a mix tape.

Patrick Henry College Herald Tackles Homosexuality

The Patrick Henry College Herald, a student-run publication, recently published this article on out friends and family members of current students [PDF], which also features the story of a current student who describes her former relationship with a woman.

It’s worth a read, not because I agree with what is said, but because it’s one of the first times that PHC students have openly wrestled with this issue as a student body. While the article was upsetting for me to read for reasons that I will explain in just a bit, it is also a relief to have the LGBTQ community acknowledged, and in a way that does not simply make the queer community into a faceless, vaguely threatening entity. And while I disagree strongly with the tone of the article, I commend writer Elizabeth Stinnette for taking on this project and pushing the PHC student body out of the comfortable silence that they have maintained on this issue.

Nevertheless, I wanted to highlight two of the major misconceptions in this article.

1. Being straight is part of the Christian gospel message

PHC students tend to discuss homosexuality in relation to marriage amendments and as signs of a decaying culture. However, gays and lesbians cannot be painted with a single rainbow-colored brush. A sizeable minority of students has [sic] experienced the complexity of the situation—their relatives and friends are publicly or privately homosexual. Additionally, a few students have struggled with same-sex attraction themselves. While all of these students acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, they realize that they need to extend grace to their relatives and show them the light of the Gospel.

I just have two questions: how does one paint with a rainbow-colored brush? And where can I find one?

On a more serious note, it would be a good idea for PHC students to move beyond only acknowledging the LGBTQ community when talking about marriage amendments or the supposedly decaying culture. The first is dehumanizing, the second is demonizing.

But I still take issue with the more “loving” approach that is outlined. When a relative is gay or lesbian (the article doesn’t really acknowledge the bisexual or trans* communities), the suggested solution is extending grace and showing them the light of the gospel.

As a Christian who also happens to be a member of the queer community, I am all for grace and the light of the gospel. I want to extend it to others, and I want others to extend it to me. But when did sexual orientation become an integral part of the gospel?

I guess I must have missed that verse in Romans 10 where it says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and promise to be straight forever and ever, you will be saved.” I must have been sleeping in Sunday School when we studied John 3:16, where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, and turns away from their homosexual desires, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now I know that some Christians don’t see sexual orientation as an integral part of the gospel. To them, homosexuality is a sin just like a bunch of other sins, and they believe that the gospel promises that God’s love has the cleansing power to get rid of all sins.

But other Christians take that idea and run with it, and preach the damaging message that you can’t be gay and a Christian, or that if you are gay, you have to be celibate if you want to go to heaven.

There is no room in this paradigm for the out, proud gay Christian who is in or looking for a gay relationship. In this mentality, you can be out if you’re celibate, or you can be out as a “former gay.”

2. Being gay or lesbian is synonymous with having emotional and/or psychological issues

And now we get to the part of the article that really broke my heart. A student with the pseudonym “Marie” tells the story of her longterm lesbian relationship with a girl named “Donna.”

Marie and Donna both grew close after dealing with incredible tragedy and hardship in their personal lives, including Donna’s abusive mother, the deaths of several of Marie’s close family members, and the death of Donna’s cousin “Trent”, who was “the only person who loved Donna.”

Marie’s parents forced her to attend PHC; neither they nor anyone at school knew about her lesbian relationship at the time. Meanwhile, Marie dreamed of getting a job at a law office so she could take Donna out of her abusive situation.

“Things were bad between me and Donna,” Marie said. “I felt like I had abandoned her.”

Marie didn’t realize how separated they had become until a high school quarterback took Donna out on a date, got her
drunk, and raped her. Donna called Marie while she was working on her second Spinney paper.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Marie said. Both girls sobbed over the phone.

Donna became pregnant, but she lost the baby a couple of weeks later. She and Marie had always talked about having children together and had even picked out names.

“I felt that I had lost my own child,” Marie said. They named the baby Jasper. He would have had blonde hair, blue eyes, and Donna’s smile.

After a student at PHC witnessed to Marie, she “gave up the dross and took the gold,” and now considers herself straight. Donna is still trapped in her abusive home situation.

“I think about this woman who I loved, who I was engaged to for five years …. I have to look at her and know she will go to hell because no one loved her enough to show Christ’s love for her. And it breaks my heart beyond all bearing,” Marie said.

I can’t even begin to fathom the pain and personal tragedy that Marie has had to deal with. And it’s not up to me to decide whether Marie is straight, lesbian, bisexual, or some other orientation. But if Marie reads this post, I want her to know this:

Marie,

You and Donna had to deal with an overwhelming burden of pain that would have put strain on any relationship, especially one between two young girls who had to weather a long-distance relationship. Death, abuse, rape, a baby that you both loved and then lost — your strength and courage in loving each other through all of that is astounding. Such painful events would cause emotional and psychological trauma for anyone. If you had been a man, you might have still had to break up with Donna anyway. No one can be superhuman forever.

But you should know that loving another woman is not the problem. Loving another woman does not make you broken. You’ve decided that you want to be with a man someday and that you want to live as a straight woman. I don’t know you, and I don’t know the details of your situation. Maybe you will find lasting happiness with a man.

But you should know that if you are still attracted to women, that is OK. You can lead a full, happy, meaningful, moral life as a lesbian or bisexual woman. And if you remain a woman of faith, you can maintain a relationship with God that will only enrich your friendships and relationships with people of any gender and orientation.

If you fall in love with another woman, a woman with whom you could see yourself building a long and happy life, a woman with whom you could see yourself raising children, don’t run away from that because you’re afraid of losing God’s love. Not only does Romans 8 remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but a love that beautiful (even if it’s with someone of your own gender) brings us closer to God.

Whoever you are, Marie, my heart goes out to you.

On Destroying the Fabric of Society

When we’re not charging up our giant Gay Ray to incinerate traditional marriage, happiness, and kittens, Alan and I are plotting to destroy the fabric of society.

A short transcript of one of these sessions, presented without comment:

Kate: society’s fabric is SO last season

Alan: more like last century

I had to cut the conversation short because I had an appointment to ruin the newlywed happiness of a heterosexual couple at noon.