There is always a place at the table

As I prepare to journey to Rome and Barcelona next Tuesday with the S.I. choir, I am thinking how to keep everyone updated on the goings on while do my thing. So depending on the availability of internet connectivity, I will schlep my laptop with me and post daily goings on in the evening, which should be late afternoon for those of you on the West Coast. I am not sure what this has to do with Gay Pride Month but that’s just the way my mind works. OK?

Speaking of GPM, if they are to be believed, there are a lot of statistics out there which indicate, that LBGT teens are targeted for bullying. While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teenager, lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender teens additionally have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis. They hear anti-gay slurs such as “homo”, “faggot” and “sissy” about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes. Even more troubling, a study found that thirty-one percent of gay youth had been threatened or injured at school in the last year alone. Unless you live under a rock, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

Much of this harassment comes from boys who are fearful of their own sexuality and need to express this fear in a “manly” way, by being a bully. Sometimes they hide this fear behind scripture or “norms.” There is a new word which began to creep into our vocabulary in the ’90’s trying to distinguish or put a label on what gender identity is and that word is heteronormativity. Simply speaking, heteronormativity is a term for a set of lifestyle norms that hold that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (male and female) with natural roles in life. It also holds that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between a man and a woman. Consequently, a “heteronormative” view is one that promotes alignment of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles to what is now called “the gender binary.” We like nice tidy cubbies to put our knowledge in don’t we. So this type of belief gives me the power to say, “You are wrong.” “You are acting contrary to your gender.” “I have a natural right to beat the shit out of you.” Can you see where this is going?

Not that we really need any classy term to fuel our self-righteousness, we’ve been quoting Leviticus for millennia to justify actions against “the gay.” But this isn’t about the right or wrong of “gayness” or “the gay.” No this is really about power over another. Jesus H. Christ, it is hard enough for a kid to go through adolescence without the judgmental fury of a group of kids who pound on another kid through word or action because that kid “doesn’t act normal.” Finding your way in life is different for everyone, and finding your identity vis-à-vis whatever is considered “normal” is sometimes a life-long task.

Not knowing if actually happened to them, I’ve always asked my students “if your friend had the courage to come out to you would he/she still be your friend”? That was a tough question for them and worthy of serious thought. They usually responded in the affirmative which gives one hope. We can change the world by changing our mind. Loving one’s friend is a manly thing to do. So when the outrageous parades begin to take place this month across the country, remember it’s supposed to be fun, it isn’t a recruiting day. And remember “the gay” is not a lifestyle, it is a life.

and so it goes…see you Monday