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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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.

Our Criticism of Your Bigotry Does Not Count as Oppression

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A straight person or a white person or an able-bodied person or a cisgender person or a man says that gay people or people of color or disabled people or trans* people or women are the true oppressors, because somehow

  • a gay person reacting angrily to homophobia
  • or a person of color reacting angrily to racism
  • or a disabled person reacting angrily to ableism
  • or a trans* person reacting angrily to transphobia
  • or a woman reacting angrily to sexism

is, first of all, a problem, and second of all, a problem that is equal to or greater than homophobia, racism, ableism, transphobia or sexism.

The main complaint of these privileged persons seems to be some variation of “We can’t criticize them without getting in trouble!” or “They’re taking away our freedom of speech.”

The latest iteration I’ve seen is a quote attributed to Voltaire currently circulating on Facebook in the form of meme-style text on a sketch of a giant hand crushing a tiny crowd of tiny people. The quote says, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

I agree with this sentiment, but I was disappointed by the comments on one of these Voltaire quotes. Apparently, some of my fellow PHC family members believe that, according to this standard, women, people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ people “rule over” them.

I sincerely hope that these comments were not meant seriously, though even as a “joke,” they are not funny.

If these commenters are correct, then black lesbians with disabilities should hold more clout in this country, proportionally, than any other demographic.

Of course, that isn’t true. And neither is the implied statement that men or white people or able-bodied people or straight people are not allowed to criticize women, black people, disabled people, and LGBTQ people.

These commenters think that an angry response to oppression counts as actual oppression.

If you make a negative comment about gay people, and someone tells you that you are being hateful or inaccurate or ignorant or oppressive, you aren’t being oppressed. You aren’t being deprived of your freedom of speech. The other party is merely using their freedom of speech to respond to you.

If you are a straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender man, you possess immense privilege. There’s nothing wrong with being straight or white or able-bodied or cisgender or a man, and the vast majority of the world will happily affirm you in your identity as all of these things. But there is something wrong with feeling entitled to your privilege, as if you deserve  special treatment because you are any or all of these identities. And when someone who is not straight or not white or not able-bodied or not cisgender or not a man complains about the inequality in society, you are a jerk if you claim that that person complaining about inequality is the one perpetuating it.

You have the right to squander your freedom of speech on hateful, inaccurate, ignorant, oppressive statements. And we have the right to call you on your bullshit. It’s how free speech works.

Welcome to America.

Fabulous Friday: 08/24

Happy Friday, baby queermos! I’m proud of myself for posting this on time.

Erin Lynnelle

Book Recommendation: I just finished Ash, a YA version of the classic Cinderella story, retold with a lesbian twist by former AfterEllen.com editor Malinda Lo. It’s an enjoyable read, although I found the ending a bit rushed and contrived, and the character development a tad shallow. Still, if you like your fantasy with a side of lesbian romance, you’ll love Ash. If you’re a queer girl looking to meet like-minded fantasy-loving queer girls, I recommend reading this in your favorite vegan coffeeshop, or maybe in that used bookstore where the cute clerk with the alternative lifestyle haircut makes feeble attempts to straighten the topsy-turvy stacks of books before diving back into Promethea.

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Here and Queer

You guys, I fail at writing Fabulous Friday posts on time. I’m skipping it this week, but I promise it’ll be back next week.

Ezra Miller

Photo by Lauren Charlea Nolting

I love Out Magazine’s interview with Ezra Miller, in which he identifies himself as queer.

“I’m queer. I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular.”

He goes on to use the term “zefriend” in addition to “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” in describing who he might date or be attracted to. I love this kid!

Miller’s choice to use the word “queer” is an important one. When we first started QueerPHC, we had a conversation about what we would call the site. We batted around the idea of calling it “LGBT PHC” but decided that it was too acronym-heavy. “Queer” is also used regularly in academia, in the context of classes on “queer studies,” something we very much lacked at Patrick Henry College. We also didn’t want to inadvertently leave out any group of people that fell under the queer umbrella but were not covered under the LGBT acronym.

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Worth Sharing: Transgender Housing Network

The recently founded Transgender Housing Network was created to assist trans*-identified people in finding temporary housing. Trans* people can post a submission if they have a need for housing, and those who are able to host trans* people can also post to the network.

This project is worth your time. If you can’t host someone, please consider reblogging, Tweeting, and otherwise putting this site out there so that those who need to find it, will.

Read an interview with THN founder Dylan at Autostraddle.com to find out more.