Monday, March 12, 2012
Praying for Pariahs
It seems like one of the "Jesus" people has done it again. Perusing the internet recently, I ran across an article about a Christian principal of a public high who school who resigned after making controversial comments during a school assembly. She is said to have remarked that gay students were going to hell and pregnant teens lives were over.
The principal reminds me of the mother in the film, Pariah. Audrey, a devout Christian, and devoted but strict parent is so consumed with her daughter’s budding sexuality that she is blind to her own disintegrating marriage. Pariah, a multi-faceted coming-of-age story will probably turn many potential viewers away because of its subject matter, but the story is so much bigger than Alike, the central character’s sexual preference. Alike must come to terms with all aspects of her burgeoning self while trying to please her parents, please her friends and everyone else. Isn’t that what we all struggle with as we grow into our own?
There’s a pivotal scene in the movie when Audrey learns that Alike is a lesbian and Audrey loses her self-imposed rigid control. Later when Alike attempts to reconcile and says to her mother, “I love you,” Audrey responds, “I’ll pray for you”and walks out of her daughter’s life.
Alike is a brilliant student, an excellent writer and a seemingly good daughter—her “problem”: she likes girls. Watching the scene I don’t know who I felt worst for—daughter or her mother. And even though Pariah is movie, there are so many pariahs in real life.
Once during a book club gathering, we got into this heated debate about homosexuality. So, I said to one of my friends who has children, what if one of your children were gay. And you would have thought I was in the room with Linda Blair in The Exorcist as fast as her head whipped around to tell me, “Don’t that on my children!” I quickly retreaded and used my nieces and nephews as an example instead because I don't have children. I love all of my nieces and nephews to life. I told her if one of them happened to be gay I couldn't see myself loving them any less.
Another time I was talking to a woman who was upset because her son had been looking at male-on-male pornography. During the course of the conversation I asked what if that was his preference, and she said, “I don’t believe in that.” I didn’t offer a rebuttal; I just listened. And I don’t know what ultimately happened with her son. But I wonder what will happen if is in fact gay.
“I don’t believe in that,” was the same thing my Christian co-worker and friend said when we had a situation involving two girls from our classroom. It wasn’t so up-close-and-personal, plus it was creating havoc at work, so I said to her that it wasn’t about her morals or values. We had a problem that was getting of hand and we needed to address it. We had to have a conversation with our students about respect and how to treat people period. A male student confided in me that he had been sexually propositioned by another male student,so I shared my concern with a male colleague who refused to address the issue because he said homosexuality doesn't exist in Africa.
This gay-bashing by religious zealots baffles because I have yet to figure out how homosexuality became the sin of all sins. Some many people sin on Saturday and show up to church on Sunday, but we’re not as quick to send them to hell in gasoline drawers. It’s gay people's sexuality that bothers us and I don’t understand why because heterosexuals engage in the same activities with or without spouses or sometimes with someone else's spouses. Are they going to hell as well?
Gay people didn’t fall out of the sky. They belong to us—they’re our family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. How does the the right to judge super cede the right to love? So while we’re praying for the pariahs in our midst, we need to pray that God blesses the rest of us with some compassion. Lord knows we need it.