Homophobia thrives in silence.

Content warnings: Violence, Homophobia.

As you may know, we’re a week after IDAHOBIT.
As you may also know, I grew up on the North West Coast of Tasmania.
Why are they related?  In a 2005 study, NW Tasmania was named the third most homophobic region in Australia.

I don’t talk or think a lot about the years from 1997 to 2003. They were painful and my first reaction is to bury them. I experienced homophobia before I even knew the word. Before I’d even accepted the fact that I was gay.  I was bullied at school, back before bullying was A Serious Thing.  I believe it was homophobia that made me less than human in the eyes of enough of my fellow students – and maybe even some of the teachers – that I was an acceptable target.  My friends at high school were mostly the teachers.  Thank you for keeping my high school life bearable.

But homophobia thrives in silence. So today, I’m talking about some of my experiences.

There were lots of incidents of me being called all sorts of derogatory synonyms for “gay man”, and I was nicknamed “Dildo” but the verbal assault was so commonplace I can’t recall specific incidents. I was physically assaulted twice in my high-school years – 1997 to 2000.

In 1998, in the halls at school, I had a student come up behind me at the lockers and pull a length of chain hard against my neck for what felt like minutes but could only have been seconds before they released me.  The school issued him an overnight suspension at 2:30pm.  So they were obviously *very* concerned about seriously inconveniencing him for my assault.  I don’t remember anyone from the school really checking that I was ok – I guess the teachers who might have cared never really knew.

And then, in ’99 I’d hit puberty, realised I liked boys, and continued to throw myself even harder into the fairly Evangelical/Pentecostal Baptist Church I’d been going to. As a Same-sex-attracted Pentecostal type, this meant a lot of private prayer and agony trying to pray myself straight, along with not daring to tell anyone for fear I would disappoint them.

That was also the year that when I was walking home and someone decided that it’d be hilarious to drop a lit match on my head.  They laughed as I freaked out, the incident was reported to the school, but to my recollection, nothing was ever done to the student in question as it was off school grounds.

Neither of my attackers mentioned sexuality during those attacks. They didn’t have to – I knew what I was picked on for even if I didn’t know why they thought I was gay.

By mid-99 I’d joined an art enterprise, making kiln-formed glassware.  This gave me somewhere to be that didn’t involve other students during breaks. I was early to every class, and basically made sure that everywhere I went where there were other students I was visible to a teacher.  The price of safety was the surrender of any kind of unmonitored social interaction with my peer group.

Internalised homophobia made my life even more miserable.  I spent a lifetime receiving clear messages from my parents that Gay wasn’t OK.  It turns out that while I was burying myself in bible study and prayer one of my good friends had accepted himself and was surreptitiously giving me signals. Perhaps if I’d allowed myself to admit it to anyone to even contemplate it being OK at that point, I’d have had a happier existence. But I was so focussed on “getting better”…

In 2001 College happened and I found my own little group of outcasts – who I said nothing to about being gay until I eventually accepted it myself as year 12 ended in 2002.

And now for Act II: The Church

I was moving away, so I told my trusted friends in the church. Almost all of them had negative things to say to me. I remember that out of all the people I told, there was only one who said anything even remotely supportive. She was the oldest church member I had told, and simply asked me to make sure I stayed safe – the safe sex talk and all. Another of these “trusted friends” betrayed my confidence, telling a church leader who came to my house and invited me to go for a walk and a talk, and his blunders were so spectacular I actually arrived home feeling simultaneously sick and triumphant.  Some of these people I’ve never spoken to since. The support network I had built up in this group felt like it basically evaporated over the space of about 4 weeks.

I moved away to Launceston, and landed myself at another church. I went to a youth bible study group there and was relatively open about my life, but a few months in, after about 6 weeks of “private debate” with a couple of the girls leading the group, eventually I and my (non-christian) boyfriend at the time were invited to coffee.  As they invited me, I just knew what it was.  I was told that I could either renounce my homosexuality and boyfriend then and there in front of him, or I had to stop coming to the study group.  Such amazing respect for another human being, I thought – even if I had been willing to renounce, I wouldn’t have been willing to do it in a way that would hurt someone I loved like that. Another support network, this time in my new town, was gone.

A week later, the pastor from the same church called and asked to come and see me. Again, I knew what it had to be about. I did the dutiful parishioner thing and baked.  The smell of cinnamon did, and still does make me feel safe and at home.  I had already learned to use manners as armour.  I invited him in, and gave him a slice of delicious warm cake with butter, and a cup of coffee. After we exchanged some pleasantries, he directed me to stop taking communion. I felt like I was being told that I was unworthy to be considered a Christian.  I think I used the word “excommunicated” at the time, though I know that’s not a Baptist thing.  I never darkened the doorway of that church ever again. Another support network was gone.

Whenever I post something, anywhere, where I call out Christians, I invariably have someone comment that not all Christians are like that. I know. I spent another 4 years in the Uniting Church with some absolutely wonderful accepting people before I came to the conclusion that Christianity wasn’t for me.  I really do understand that #notAllChristians.  I have to tell you though, these three incidents aren’t my only experiences of Christians’ discrimination, just the most personal.  The fact of the matter is that these days, when I discover someone is Christian, I tense up, I choose my words carefully, and I watch closely for signs of homophobia – and sadly, I discover its presence all too often.  Occasionally I discover that someone is a decent human being *despite* being Christian.

So why is all this here? Homophobia affected my life most severely while I was the most vulnerable, and I walk through my life now wearing rainbows as armour to keep bigots at bay. I’m wary of people’s motives.  Watching, waiting for them to try to hurt me.

Homophobia kills.  It’s not just the obvious maniacs who kill us outright.  It’s the constant stream of insults, the constant reminders that society thinks we’re less than. It’s the support networks that evaporate when we eventually tell people.  It’s the Christians who only ever pop up to remind us that not all Christians think like that when we post things that criticise Christians, and who won’t be openly supportive for fear of their own stigmatisation.  It’s how tiring it is just to try and stay safe. It’s the fact that homophobia is so pervasive in our society that internalised homophobia is a thing.

Worst of all, homophobia kills in such a way that almost none of the people who contribute to our deaths are made to take any responsibility for them.

Homophobia thrives in silence. Speak up when you hear it.

PS. My parents are quite the supporters these days. They changed their views.

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Coming out for the second time…

Hi!

Today's post isn't a while, which is a wonderful change!

I'm not quite sure where to begin though…

well, I've been a Christian all my life. Parents were Christian, it was All I Knew.  Then, about January or so of this year (when I was looking for The Hitchikers Guide to the Universe TV Series by the BBC) I stumbled across, and began listening to The Skeptics Guide to The Universe podcast.  It was fun, the hosts were funny and smart, and they made a heap of good points.  Awesome.  Well, one day recently I heard them interviewing Richard Saunders, who is heavily involved in Australian Skeptics.  I had no idea that there even were Australian Skeptics… well, I did, but I didn't realise that they had actually organised anything, let alone a society offering a $100,000 Challenge for Psychics and Practitioners of the Paranormal.  Upon learning of their existence, I checked out their site, and bought a subscription to The Skeptic, their quarterly publication.  I also sent an email to the Tassie branch, wondering what there was.  Nothing.  But someone up here had enquired a similar thing only a week ago, would I like to be put in touch?  Absolutely!  In fact, I'm rambling. 

After listening to the AS episode of SGU, I went back through some older ones, and stumbled across one about Immortality.  Interesting to say the least.  The panel discussed what "Immortality" (here defined as a lack of death-by-natural-causes) might mean for society, and religion in particular.  They said that a big thing about religion was the fear of death angle.  I thought "but I'm not afraid of death?".  I then wondered "am I not afraid because I'm just not, or is it my Christian belief in an afterlife kicking in?"  after some consideration, I decided that I actually don't mind whether an afterlife exists or not. If the things I do in this life are governed by the things that will happen in the next, then I need to take a serious, long look at my life and make some changes.   But they're not, so I'm happy enough. 

But this opened other things up to questioning.  I went and bought Christopher Hitchins "God Is Not Great: How Religon Poisons Everything" and devoured it.  It's a great book which I plan on reading again soon.   It makes some great points, which I'm at a loss to remember right now. (mainly because I was reading the book as a diversion from the things I should have been doing, and while it was really good, I wasn't taking things in on more than a subconscious level.)  Um, oh, yes… I started thinking about things.  I started asking "if God exists, why do all these things happen when there is no person who you could possibly say is responsible for certain atrocities?" ie Hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami, etc.  And that put me in a really awkward position.  It feels like there's something more than us just being meat, but what could it be?  Well, what about a non-intervening God? It starts off the big bang and watches.  Sure, It wants us to be happy etc, but It's not going to actually do anything about it.  OK, awesome, a God I can believe in again. 

I turn to my next topic of consideration: Jesus.  Problem.  God is a non-intervening God. Jesus came about because God intervened in Mary's life, and the lives of countless others.  Conclusion here? Jesus was probably a really, really great guy, but he was just human.  next? Holy Spirit.  Problem.  the glorious HS is the personification of God's intervention.  Damn. Well, no HS either under my definition of God.

So… I believe in a non-intervening God.  That would make me a Deist.  I'm not quite sure what to do about church and family and stuff.  I will be disappointing a whole lot of people when I come out of the theological closet.  A friend has advised me that she goes to chuch (with her partner) and views it as kind of a social club.  I sing up the front, and recently, I've had a hard time singing the songs that I'm supposed to.  Not because they're hard songs, but because I don't actually believe the words.  Then there's the guilt of being told "I love hearing you sing, because it's so obvious that you're really feeling what you're singing." I'm actually misleading these people! and that's not cool.  If I go to church and don't sing up front with the choir, then I get asked why so much that if I can't get to practice on Friday nights, I just don't bother going to church on sunday.  it's easier, pure and simple.  So viewing it as asocial club may not be for me.

But… I'm meeting with my pastor on Friday to hopefully sort this stuff out a bit more.  This is big, to really make any public statement about my Deism. Currently, hubby and one friend, who I knew was a bit of a far out Christian, know. and now you know too.  This isn't for people to feel sorry for me, or to convert people, just to say "here is where I am at the moment"

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Yesterday, the day that nobody remembered…

… me.

that's not quite true.  The Divine Miss C remembered. but it feels like she was the only one.  I asked B on Monday if I could stay at his place last night so I could go to a group for gay Christians.  I also suggested a Wine Time afterwards.  Yesterday while I was killing time between the end of uni and the group, Ben came home, and when I asked about the Wine Time, he said he "forgot" and was going to stay at his bf's place.  How hard is it to remember for one frigging day?!?!  I mean seriously.  And it's not like the bf isn't invited to wine times.  So that was bugging me.

Then I went to my gay Christians group.  This is usually a really recharging experience, and I rarely go away feeling worse than when I arrive.  But last night was one of those nights.  Right on the heels of being forgotten by B, I got basically ignored by the group.  Now, I'm sure that it wasn't intentional, but it hurts nonetheless.  To explain:  The group I go to is basically a support group for GLBTI people and their friends/family/supporters with a bit of a Christian focus.  Each meeting we have a little bit of a devotional thingy and an opening prayer, and then we go around the group talking about how our month was.  Mine has been a bit crappy, a bit hectic, a bit up and down, and just generally exhausting.  We had a quasi-new member this week, (a number of the group had met him before and knew him for his efforts in GLBTI reconciliation in his local area)  and we got him to talk to us about his life and his locale.  then we went around the table.  I was sitting next to the newbie, and the guy on the other side of me started talking about his month.  They got right around the table to the girl sitting next to Newbie, and then just broke off and started talking amongst themselves.  I said in a clear, loud voice, to no-one and everyone in particular "My month has been exhausting!" and one person said, the third time I said it, "I don't think they've noticed, so just tell me"  This was quite sweet, and I must send an email to the guy thanking him, but it highlighted that no-one else had noticed at all.  I live the furthest away out of the whole (regular) group (the newbie was from further away) and going to the group impacts 2 days out of my week. (I stay in town, which involves all the inconveniences that staying somewhere not-your-home entail) Not to mention the fact taht I worked extra-hard so I'd have time to go to it. I'm left wondering if I should send an email to those present.  On any other day, or for any other month, I'd probably be fine.  but that day, the month just gone, I needed to have my spill, and it hurt that they didn't even notice that I didn't get a chance.

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Intellectual Dishonesty, and a certain blogger

I was interested by a post I saw when I did something… added a comment perhaps?
So I looked at it, and I asked Questions.

Apparently, this is not a good thing to be doing.

The post in question was: Give me BLOOD N' Fire and I will REBUILD the World in HIS Image
I also looked at "
Overcoming Thought Control and Treading on ALL the Control Data"

As I posted responses, he would answer, and in less than 5 minutes, delete at least my question, and often his response.

He doesn't address my questions on his blog, and so I'm inviting him to address them on mine, where I'll see them, but his loyal fans don't have to.  The more I talk to him, the more I wonder about the nature of a man who dodges questions so much.

Responses to "Blood'n'Fire"

Comments

well…  fortunately, I get to decide what I post. so I'm going to keep posting the comment history in my posts.  That's -my- choice.

Interesting how you went from "young man" in your previous post to "young woman".

All I'm asking is that you actually answer my questions. and I haven't had that happen yet.

Comments

I wait with baited breath to see this Bio, and since it will also address my questions about your involvement with the group, I must assume you know the founder.

I make no claims that you shouldn't do what you choose to do, I'm simply asking for some clarification as to why you're doing them.

If your cause is just, why are you squelching my comments?  I would like to know what you expect me to see by that command. I'm already a Christian (I'm expecting that's what you mean by "You will See")

It is very interesting that you keep deleting my comments. Why are you afraid of some analytical questions appearing next to your work?

My previous comment and his response:

Comments

Friends of Blood'n'Fire…

not what I asked for.

I want to know what Blood'n'Fire actually do. What they actually believe.

If you're not involved, why are you endorsing them, especially if you can't actually tell me what they are specifically.  (And by posting about them on this blog, you -are- endorsing them.) What is your connection with this group?

I would like to point out that although you have put a lot of references in your response (so many that I feel overwhelmed just looking at the list). Your headings don't actually equate to an answer to the questions I posed.

In particular, I asked about Values (I'm willing to accept what is already in this post, although I feel they are very broad), Focus, History, and "What we do". I'm guessing you've just given me a list of "What we do" although you say they're friends of the movement, rather than members or initiatives.

You switch from "Friends of Blood'n'Fire who share our heart…" to "I am not involved directly"  Why is that?

To Close, why exactly did you add the section from Hebrews and the scripture from Micah after I made my post?

Dylan

I am trying top locate the Bio on the Founder of Blood N' Fire which willa ddress your questions.

However, what I choose to do, I choose to do.

Young man I am going to touch your eyes and you will see, RIGHT NOW.

Mark

Dylan

I only keep things that really interest me.

If you didn't interest me , young woman, I would simply let you go and your comments with you.

YOu will definitely breathe, BUT it will be the Breath of the Life of the World.

YOU have already inhaled. SO EXHALE! into that John 3:8 wind.

If your comments interest me, I will keep them if they don't then I am going to let them go.

MY CHOICE.

Your rogation and interrogation is interesting and I will answer you BUT I DECIDE which comments I keep.

Mark

——————————————————

And my responses to Mind Control:

Comments

Dylan

If free will was an illusion why did Jesus choose the Cross in Gethsemane?

Our Freewill and the prevenient Grace of God's omniscience are in perpetual and convergent simultaneity to each other.

Try Breathing….you are hitting the constraints of your worldview.

Ideology is when ideas have us, Revelation is when we have HIS ideas about US.

There are two types of Headhunters in the world - those you do see coming and those that are trying to reprogramme your thoughtlife, which need to be taken captive in submission to the LORD Jesus Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5…."We take every thought captive…"

If you have to ask, "who is programming you?" then you need the Cross. The MIND of Christ is revealed through the Cross of Christ.

Mark

Now, I'm a Christian, Baptised at 12, Church Elder @ 21, so your last statement is fairly useless.

The Mind of Christ is surely the Mind of God, and something that humanity is not equipped to deal with.

Absolutely, take every thought captive.  that's what I'm trying to do here, is take your thoughts as presented here, and process them.  I'm doing that, but without any of the evidence you obviously have available to you, I can't very well determine the validity of your statements as they apply to my life.

what thought control and programming phenomena are you talking about?

I'm actually not arguing that free will is an illusion.

What I'm saying is that according to your statement, is there a situation in which Free Will truly exists?

Free Will and God knowing what I'm going to do before I do it are always coming together at the same time. (I think I translated that right) No Problem.  I can deal with such an apparent paradox with no major difficulty.  (How does Omniscience have Grace, on a tangent)

Have I created a false dichotomy here?

If you have just said "every fallen human agency has a fallen spiritual agency motivating and directing their actions"  Then anything less than the carrying out of God's Will is indirectly, but ultimately attributable to the fallen spiritual agency doing the directing.  Much in the same way that the carrying out of God's Will is indirectly but ultimately attributable to God.  Are we attributing spiritual-realm powers and motivations to things which are simply an artefact of human free will?

I'm trying to break free of the contraints of my worldview, Help me out with that by answering the questions, perhaps by understanding what you mean, I can better understand the world.

In the meantime, you talk about the Control Data… what is that?

———————————————————

Sorry they're not more complete, but it took a couple of postings before I realised what he was doing.

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