My deepest hope for this blog is that whoever reads it would feel refreshed rather than attacked by the perspective I’ve gleaned over the years. That being said, I want to talk about how God transformed my perspective on gay marriage and gay relationships through media.
Growing up, I learned that attraction to the same sex was wrong and that Gay Pride was one of Satan’s great deceptions in this world.
African and Native Americans suffered physically tortuous and often life-threatening treatment that was socially acceptable for white people to administer in former years. Gay culture has not been treated this way in recent years but it has been faced with hatred and mass ostracism that has left the victims feeling notoriously unaccepted and unaffirmed for who they are. In this, I see a pattern. We are always as a culture, and unfortunately, especially as Christians searching for someone who is in the wrong. We look for that group who we can disagree with or even hate in order to feel better about our own lives and morals.
When I peruse Christian review sites, the most horrified reactions are to sexuality and expressed homosexual feelings. In a world where a massive and muscular snowman can’t play with a tiara after the credits of a kids’ movie without parents being warned about themes that may disturb their children, when this is called “sexual content”, can’t we see that we are reaching? (http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/frozen-2013)
While in Ministry School, I developed a distaste for the censoring that takes place within Christian-approved media, including the shaming of gay relationships by people who should be shouting from the rooftops with freedom and kindness. Another strange expectation of Christian media is that gay characters are never portrayed unless God “heals them”. Gay culture is, if nothing else, an inevitability of our world. Hating the people involved or choosing to never represent them as existent in our Christian media does not fix any problems. Would it really do harm to the Christian message if Christian movies included gay characters? It’s as if Christians have imagined their perfect world where there is no swearing, drinking or sex and so God can be a part of that culture. This is such a ridiculous notion. When Jesus came into the world, it was messy! Violence was rampant and sex was happening too. This idea that God can only enter into a world that is sinless is an antiquated thought that cuts many people out of experiencing the awesome message of the gospel: Come as you are. You are enough, for Jesus has made you so.
God has spoken more to me of kindness and love through TV shows than I hear in the cross-centric, pat-answering Christian movies out today. Netflix has a lovely assortment of TV shows that I had always been curious to explore but was afraid what might change in my life if I watched. It started with Glee. There’s really no way to really explain the shift I had in my heart through watching this show but a lot of it happened as we followed the gay characters. I guess you could say that I was faced with my own flawed logic. Each character at some point or another is met with animosity and unfortunately, references to the Bible (taken out of context.) Kurt Hummel is pursued by a bully named Dave Karofsky, the most climactic moment for me here was when Dave, after months of tormenting Kurt, shoved Kurt against a locker and kissed him. Then, frightened by his impulse, Karofsky runs and later is exposed as gay. His experience is of cruel comments on websites and pushing and shoving him into his own locker that reads “FAG.” He attempts suicide.
Another gay character, a girl is also exposed. When a guy comes to hit on her, he says that she just needs the right guy to turn her. The girl is instantly surrounded by her Glee teammates and they all sing “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry in his face.
I remember that song. I was so needlessly angry. I remember thinking that Katy had failed Christianity and thus failed us all and given us a bad rep. I would cover my ears and run from the premises whenever that song came on. Seeing the song presented as a defender of the victimized and brokenhearted, I had to wake up. Katy Perry had nothing against me when she decided sing that song publicly. She had nothing against me and yet I took it so personally. This is the first problem I have with our “Christian” view on homosexuality. It has literally nothing to do with me. I am simply called to love and not judge. Seriously. As a Christian, I ought to be a breath of fresh air, someone with whom people are glad to spend their time. Freaking out about Katy Perry and Glee just alienates people.
TV shows lately have been handling the situation of characters coming out with such tact. You see their pain, their parents’ struggles to understand, and the backlash of their decision to stay true to who they are. People need to understand that people are going to be gay. Whether it is a choice or a genetic coding, gay pride will abound and pretending that it doesn’t exist or that it is inherently evil is what gets in the way of Christianity making any kind of impression on the world.
What’s interesting to me as I come out of the mindset that such a lifestyle is wrong is how many things are caught up in the “scandal” of being about gay relationships these days. When Frozen hit theaters all around the world, some said that Elsa’s struggle was a metaphor for hiding her sexual orientation. Even if it was, is it so bad that the character of Elsa resonated with people who were experiencing fear for their feelings for the same sex?
When I was in internship, there was such indignation over Katy Perry’s lyric video for “Unconditionally” which showed two women with torsos uncovered, singing to each other. It was poetic. I felt like Katy Perry was saying “I will love you no matter what. No matter what you look like or how much of you you show to me.” It was beautiful. Some of my fellow interns wanted to make a different “more worshipful” music video because that one was “so offensive” and “missed what the song was really saying”. It, to me, became such a picture of how we could view each other as people. Especially if we couldn’t move past the fact that there were two girls in the lyric video, one was androgynous.
The thing I think we would benefit from realizing is that people choose these lifestyles, they’re born into this line of thinking, and we tear them down for it. It’s so unnecessary, it doesn’t affect us.
The last song that really upset the straight/conservative agenda was the empowering Sara Bareilles song “Brave”. This song taught me that being brave was the best I could do, that I needed to stand up against the stifling influences around me and recognize that I was important, that I needed to speak out for who I was. Sara Bareilles has been a voice for Pride since before it became popular, her song Brave is as much about accepting ourselves as it is about calling those afraid out of their closet. Sara Bareilles is about vibrancy, kindness, and refusing to compromise on her beliefs about people and about herself. Many people were brought out of the dark and hurtful closet of their upbringing because of her song and her fun and celebratory music video.
All this being said, I see an agenda that is suffocating the voices, shutting out love for all, and it isn’t on the Gay Pride side of things. We get so caught up in being right about “sin” as Christians that we forget that primarily we should care and try to understand. We need to stop rolling our eyes every time we hear them speak of their pain and focus not on the “scandal” of their behavior but how we can best show each person kindness and love. Sara gets it, Katy gets it. I just hope that someday I’ll truly get it and the rest of Christendom with me.