Yesterday I was interviewed by WYFF News Channel 4 regarding an apology from Bob Jones III for comments he made in 1980 where he stated:
“I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”
Here is a the news story.
I am proud of the piece and for the opportunity to stand up for my community. However, since this was a three minute story, much of what I said was edited out.
Bob Jones III made his horrid comments in March 1980. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. However, Bob Jones III is not the only religious leader that needs to make an apology.
Let’s take a look at “Reverend” Stephen Anderson in Tempe Arizona. This man of god proudly claimed from the pulpit:
Here’s what the Bible says, Leviticus 20:13, ‘If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.’ And that, my friend, is the cure for AIDS. It was right there in the Bible all along. Because if you executed the homos, like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all this AIDS running rampant.
Let’s also travel further North to New York where “Reverend” James David Manning had the following on his church’s sign:
Jesus would stone homos
Why is it important that we bring attention to these religious men and the hate speech they spew as leaders in their churches? The answer is simple. Because queer people are being killed everyday by people who are buoyed by these types of scripture-based calls for violence against queer , or perceived to be queer, men and women. Matthew Shepard and Sean Kennedy (from my own city of Greenville, SC) were killed because they were gay. Last week Devin Norman, a gay man in Mississippi, was severely beaten while his attacker called him a “fucking faggot”. Mollie Olgin and Mary Christine Chapa were a lesbian couple killed because of their sexuality. In 2015 alone, nine trans-individual were killed in the United States for being different than the “norm”: Lamar “Goddess” Edwards, Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Yazmin Vash Payne, Taja DeJesus, Penny Proud, Bri Golec, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, and Sumaya Ysl. We should never forget those who commit suicide due to bullying, gay or otherwise.
All of these people have died as a result of Othering. This is a process where the dominant group of a society begin identifying those who do not fit into the group’s idea of “normal”. In the process, the Othered are put into a category of less-than-human. This is one facet of slavery that allowed slaves to be beaten, raped, and killed. Since the Othered are not viewed as fully human, they are not afforded the same respect as the non-Othered and their lives are not prescribed the same value and worth. The persecution of the Othered is not seen as wholly bad and is sometimes celebrated. This is why it is of the utmost important to know which hate preachers are spreading this type of vile hate and to counter them at every turn.
The anti-gay preachers of the past and of today aggressively Other queer people from the Pulpit in the name of god. They continue to call for the deaths of these people. Sometimes it is not as blatant as the good Reverends listed above, but comes through subtlety by claiming that queer people should not be provided protections by law, either on the federal level or local level. In some congregations, the Othering is so complete that the faithful even stand against anti-bullying regulations in the schools. This has to be counteracted in order to end queer violence and death.
The only way to end the Othering of queer individuals is to normalize our place in society and raise us up to full citizenship and humanity. This can be done through enacting broad equal protections legislation on the federal level to prevent the consequences of Othering. Also, marriage equality has to be the law in each and every state in the Union.
Marriage is an important step in ending Othering because it raises the most fundamental and important relationships of queer individuals to equal status with heterosexual couples. A few years ago I wrote a blog regarding Prop 8 in California. In this blog, I stated that marriage is important but it didn’t change the day to day lives for Mark and me. However, I was wrong. July 18th, 2013, Mark and I were legally wed in Manhattan. It was a day that changed my life.
On that day, Mark and I become husbands. Our relationship changed on a fundamental level, because our relationship was normalized. We were the same as our straight counterparts. By having the same federal rights as other married couples, our marriage is no longer less than. No, it has the same respectability and honor as all other marriages.
When all queer people are allowed the freedom to marry the person of their choice, it will be the norm in all states. At that point, it will not be the easy target of scorn. While this is not the silver bullet, it is a strong step in the right direction.
The end of Othering will also require full federal protections and non-discrimination laws. This is the further development of the Black Civil Rights movement. When misogyny laws were overturned, different race marriages became the norm and those relationships were no longer Othered. When black Americans were given full citizenship and voting privileges, the Othering of blacks became less acceptable and continues to be eroded.
It is time to stop calling for, allowing for, and promoting for violence against queer people. To do this, we must end Othering of queer people. We must be normalized and humanized. Allowing us to marry and seeing that our marriages will fail and succeed just like heterosexual marriages, we will be seen in sameness. This will save lives of queer people across the country and end, hopefully once and for all, queer shaming and its accompanying violence. Luckily, this issue may be settled soon by SCOTUS. The Surpreme Court will hear oral arguments in April on same-sex marriage cases. Let us hope that they decide in favor of same-sex marriage and send a decisive blow to Othering.
In the mean time, stop calling for us to killed. Instead, let us marry. In our acts of love and devotion, you will see that were are the same and we will cease to be other.
May you all live and live freely,