Not All of Us

We’re erasing each other.

“Yeah, but not all men are rapists.”

“Not all white people are racist.”

“Not all Christians hate gays.”

It’s become so important for us to distance ourselves from those groups who these statements are about that we’re missing the point. Of course not all men are rapists. I’m a transguy, and I’m not a rapist, but I also don’t need to tell people that.

“Hi, I’m Teri. I like cats, I like to write…oh, and I’m not a rapist.” No, that’s stupid. If you have to state that you are the exception to the rule, and not the standard, something is terribly wrong.

There’s been a movement, where Christians show up at gay pride festivals across the country and apologize for the pain and suffering inflicted by the religion. They hug LGBT people and say “I’m Sorry” and wear t-shirts with the phrase emblazoned on the front. There’s other movements too, where white people have shown up to protest alongside blacks in their neighborhoods, protesting police brutality.

It’s not enough. Saying you’re a good Christian, and you’re sorry doesn’t do anything for me. Why? Because it doesn’t close the gap between the two communities. You’re sorry on behalf of those who wish to take away my rights, and in some instances, wish me dead. They’re not sorry. They most likely never will be sorry. So unfortunately, your apology, as well intentioned as it may be, is empty. At least to me. If five people at a pride event say they’re sorry, then I go home and there’s 20 people talking about how it’s the LGBT community’s fault that Nebraska had an earthquake, or a reporter is telling the story of a trans life taken much too soon…it just simply isn’t enough.

We talk of privilege. Privilege of skin, privilege of money, of education, of sexual orientation and gender identity. But what do we do with it? I’m sure there are black people who appreciate the white people standing beside them in solidarity, but that doesn’t stop black youth from dying.

A Christian telling me they’re sorry doesn’t change the fear I have using a public restroom or keep me from being fired because I’m trans.

So you’re sorry. That’s great. But don’t come to me to assuage your guilt for being Christian. Don’t tell a woman who has been raped that not all men are rapists, because clearly it doesn’t do her a damn bit of good. If you want to help, if you truly want to make a difference, get out there and change things. Engage in conversations with other Christians, tell them you know gay people, that you know transgender people, and surprise! We’re not bad or evil. Use your white privilege to change people’s attitudes. Call others out when they’re racist. Go to community meetings and stand up and tell people that police brutality is not only unacceptable, but that it needs to stop and things MUST change. When other men are being misogynist, call them out. Let them know that it’s not right.

Be that change. Don’t hug me and tell me that you’re sorry. I appreciate it, but it doesn’t help me move forward towards equality.

Yes, all lives matter, and yes, not all of us are [pick your poison]. But stop erasing the struggle because you need to clear your conscience. I know you’re a good person, but simply being a good person doesn’t create the change that’s needed to make this place safe for all of us. Stop telling me you’re a good Christian and go find out why the bad Christians feel the way they do about us.

Stop being the exception. Become the standard.

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Christianity and Homosexuality

It’s interesting to note that in most cultures outside of Europe, homosexuality was accepted and openly practiced prior to European colonization. The acceptance of homosexuality from a religious aspect has been debated throughout history.

Christian-Church33Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and is broken into three separate churches, with multiple denominations: The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Protestantism.

Because Christianity has so many different denominations, to say that Christianity as a whole does not accept homosexuality is an incorrect statement. In fact, literature exists suggesting that during the Middle Ages, some Christian communities accepted and allowed homosexuality to thrive. John Boswell, an historian and professor at Yale, wrote two books, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality and Same-sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, both arguing that the attitude of the Christian church towards homosexuality has changed throughout time, volleying from complete social acceptance, to total persecution.

Persecution against homosexuality rose during the High Middle Ages (c. 1000 – 1299). During the Medieval 1311548648-191Inquisitions, sodomy and homosexuality were major charges leveled against prominent men during the Trial of the Knights Templar. Much of this was fueled by the works of theologian Thomas Aquinas, who argued that “special sins are against nature, as, for instance, those that run counter to the intercourse of male and female natural to animals, and so are peculiarly qualified as unnatural vices.” He also stated that sodomy was second only to murder in the ranking of sins.

However, the intolerance of homosexuality was constantly fueled by decrees put out by the church. At the start of the Renaissance, homosexuality was once again accepted. Ironically, it was most practiced by those that outwardly spoke of its sin. Upon the rise of Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar turned preacher turned prophet, homosexuals were once again persecuted under religious pretenses. Savonarola spoke out against the decadences of Florence and Venice, focusing a moral persecution on homosexuality. The church began to arrest men suspected of sodomy, and with the instatement of the Officers of the Night, began a list of those men thought to practice homosexuality. Men were fined or jailed, boys were flogged, and the worst punishments included public stoning and burning at the stake. Upon the fall of Savonarola, when he was shown to be a farce, the persecution of homosexuals eased up a bit, but didn’t go away.

When the Spanish conquered the Americas, they were horrified to see that the aboriginal peoples openly practiced homosexuality, and even celebrated it. They immediately brought punishment upon those that practiced, referring to balboathem as berdaches (derived from the French bardache implying a male prostitute), and inflicting punishment that included public execution, burning at the stake, and being torn apart by dogs.

The religious persecution of homosexuality has led to legislation being passed throughout history banning homosexuality and sodomy. Laws are based on morality, and it wasn’t until 2003 that sodomy was decriminalized in the United States.

I focus on Christianity as it is the most widely practiced religion. Their scripture is the Bible, a series of books written by man but said to be ‘God-breathed’. The Old Testament of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek.

It is said that in those languages, there are no words that directly translate to homosexual or homosexuality. The Bible is the most popular book in the world, and the most translated. It has been translated into over 2000 different languages. Various versions omit various books, depending on the belief system of that particular domination.

Passages from the Bible, often from the Old Testament book Leviticus, are used to confirm a belief that homosexuality is indeed a sin. Leviticus 18-22 is the most often used verse, stating that ‘man shall not lie with man as man lies with woman’. This has been used as an argument against homosexuality. However, other interpreters maintain that the passage does not condemn homosexuality, but refers to prostitution, or ‘sex without love’. The argument for this lies in the fact that the original languages that the Old Testament was written in (Hebrew and Aramaic) did not contain words images (8)that directly translate to homosexual.

It is also argued that subsequent translations of the Bible are interpretations, and that words were changed according to a particular bias. It has been likened to a game of ‘Telephone’, where the original message gets garbled and changed according to what a particular person hears, as opposed to what was actually said.

It’s quite probable that a satisfactory explanation for religious intolerance or acceptance will never be achieved. However, as with all things, Christianity continues to change, and more and more Christians are moving toward a model of acceptance and tolerance of their homosexual brethren.

Some religions show the same model of tolerance/intolerance for homosexuality as Christianity. Other religions, like Buddhism, do not preach one way or the other about the issue of homosexuality, but basically adopt a ‘do unto others’ attitude – how do your actions affect others? – in their religious values set.

As it stands, the religious debate will continue until the end of time. To argue right or wrong will not accomplish much. Thus, I offer this post as a sort of objective look at Christianity and homosexuality.

Next, we’ll look at the psychological aspect of homosexuality, and take a peek at the possibility of a genetic explanation, and what that could mean.