Friday, May 24, 2013

Touch and Go

There have been a couple high-profile news stories lately. I want to briefly touch on them.

1. An NBA player came out. This is a big deal, because no one ever does that in big, straight, professional sports like basketball. This is the biggest deal since Magic Johnson said he had AIDS. So this guy's name is Jason Collins, and he is (maybe?) playing/most recently played for the Washington Wizards. I don't even know if that's State or DC, and frankly, I haven't cared about the NBA since 1997. Which explains why my reaction to the headline went no further than, "Hey! That's great!" I ended up listening to part of an over-wrought discussion of the story on Talk of the Nation, and that seemed pretty weird to me since anything related to sports on NPR is usually relegated to one of those 20-second fun spots on All Things Considered. Anyway, the bulk of the discussion seemed to revolve around the question, "What will this do to Locker Room Dynamics?!"

So I have a vague memory of one of the girls on my high school volleyball team being fairly open about being into girls. In the locker room, most of us turned our backs to her while changing—not rudely, just shyly.  Then we went on the court and kicked ass.

We were teenage girls.*

Just sayin.

This piece in Slate sparked my interest in the story a little more. It basically says that the falsely casual shrug-off that Mr. Collins' announcement garnered from some people is just homophobia from a different angle. It is often paired with some version of "Just don't shove it in my face!" Rush Limbaugh is quoted:
Folks, I grew up in a family where people's sexual orientation preferences, whatever, weren't even discussed. Why does it have to be rammed down our throats, figuratively speaking?
That was real cute, the little BJ reference there. Anyway, the article is a good read.

2. The Boy Scouts are going to let openly gay boys become scouts! Oh, but they still think gay scout leaders would molest and/or recruit, so that's a no-go so far. Because 'homosexual' is synonymous with 'pedophile'. And people decide to be gay when someone older than them convinces them.

Big conservative groups are pissed that gay boys will be scouts. See here for some laughably uninformed arguments that can be summed up by saying "We don't actually know anyone who is gay, and we are terrified." They use the phrase "boy-on-boy sexual contact". If there were to be a joint Boy/Girl Scout camping trip, would they be as vocal about the potential for boy-on-girl sexual contact?

Even my crazy fundamentalist 17-year-old self would be scratching her head over the concern of scouts' sexual orientation. Awkward camping trips? Whatever. See my above teenage thoughts on locker room/cabin dynamics.

As for the pedophile/recruitment thing. . .  I know someone—usually a real nice guy—that claims he had a friend 30 years ago who proclaimed something to the effect of "Everyone should watch their sons. We want them since we can't procreate." As though there's a threat of extinction or something. I would appreciate any insight into that dumb-founding statement.

(Aside: This same friend always mentions NAMbLA in our conversations. This is an organization that seeks to do away with statutory rape laws, which assume that below a certain age, one cannot give informed consent to sex. NAMbLA disagrees with that and thinks a 13-year-old boy is just as capable of making that decision as an 18-year-old one. They do make it clear that molestation—sexual activity without consent—is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I haven't read enough to find out if they do name a more agreeable age of consent. But as icky as I find the phrase "man-boy love" to be, I don't think it's relevant to the conversation since age-of-consent laws have nothing to do with orientation, it just so happens these particular gay men want the law changed.)

3. On a good note, Same Love has been in the top 40 for many many weeks in more than one country. Neat, huh?

* I realize this brings up a couple questions:
Q. Would you feel as comfortable changing in a co-ed locker room? A. Nope.
Q. Isn't it a bigger deal for men because they are "visual" creatures? A. It's mostly men that claim women aren't.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On being oppressed

I am stunned when I remember from time to time that there still are people that think my lack of a Y chromosome renders me unfit to even collect the offering at church.

We recently moved and had to take a few weeks to church shop. (Ugh.) I have been told that I am too critical and seem only to notice the negative things. This is patently false—well, that second part anyway—but when it comes to churches, it's totally true. In keeping with that, my requirements for a new church are a list of things I do not want. In no particular order:

1. Being the youngest people there
2. Only men up front
3. Homophobia (or the "love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin" version)
4. "Shine Jesus Shine"

Problem is, there's this draw to the Mennonite church that I haven't been able to ignore. We console/placate ourselves on #3 by saying over and over again in my head, "At least there's conversation about it."

So we went. And it was pretty great. People actually talked to us! Lots of crazy connections and "You know her TOO?" sorts of conversations. These are totally normal conversations in a Mennonite church. Anyone who's ever been remotely connected to the Mennonite community knows what I'm talking about. Being new to town, our heads were dizzy with the promise of friends. Hushed invites for going out for beer, etc.

So we went back. That's when I noticed: three men and a 15-year-old boy collected offering. Coincidence? Please please please please please. I asked the cool bearded farmers market guy after the service, "Hey, potentially sensitive question. Are women allowed to collect the offering? Or... do... anything? Besides play the piano?" The answer was basically "No, the old people would freak out, and we just sort of defer to them. [And wait for them to die.]"

It feels hopeless even though my kind makes up 50% of the population.

At the kitchen table when we got home, I said, "They let a 15-year-old boy collect offering but not a grown woman! . . . You will probably never understand."

"I won't."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Hi everyone.

It's sure has been a while.

I got distracted for a couple years there.* And there was that advocacy fatigue I mentioned a couple posts ago.

But recently, two people told me that they found themselves here, and that it was really helpful in their thinking about the issue. That was really gratifying, and certainly you who have commented should feel good too. There have also been a decent number of hits lately, much to my surprise. So hey, let's do this thing.

Do you have a story you'd like to share? A resource that has been helpful? A book review? I'd love to take submissions. Email me, and I'll post things!

*I got my master's degree to become a physician assistant, and now I am one! For any who don't know, "physician assistant" is a misnomer; PAs are licensed to practice medicine under the indirect supervision of one or more physicians. Except for the way I introduce myself, a visit with me is indistinguishable from a visit with a doctor. ( end unrelated advocacy.) _______________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, September 29, 2011


My living situation changed at the end of July. It is not entirely normal.

My husband I live in a third floor apartment. It comprises a bathroom, bedroom, and living room. In the living room is a counter across part of a wall. Under the counter is a dorm fridge. On the counter are a microwave, toaster oven, hot shot, and microscopic sink.

We rarely use these things.

We're not so much "living in a third floor apartment" as we are "sharing a whole house with some amazing people".

Like many other houses, the kitchen is where it all happens. Spontaneous (or not) meals get prepared, hilarious (or not) conversations are had. Guests (known or not) are welcomed. We put cash in an envelope for the groceries that are shared. We go halfsies on cases of beer. We crack open that new hip version of the book of common prayer and pray together.

In some ways, it feels like the closest thing to Acts 2:44 ("All the believers were together and had everything in common.") you can get without making the news.

It's probably wise to have the conversation about a big thing you don't have in common in such a context. For many reasons, you can't afford to get angry. More importantly, you no longer care to.

I don't know how it came up. I certainly wasn't about to bring it up since it felt a bit like disclosing your past to a serious boyfriend. (Feel free to suggest more apt descriptions.)

But there I was, yet again trying to explain to people much smarter than I why it's insulting to be told that people who hold my position simply don't believe in the veracity of scripture; and why I strongly suspect that while the scriptures seem clear about homosexuality, they actually may not be.

Again today, a side comment made by a friend in a conversation about Moneyball... "Did you know Brad Pitt was raised in an evangelical home? I read an interview where he said that he and his parents respect each other's differing views on homosexuality. I thought that was neat, that his parents stayed strong in their faith."

Surprise: I stew a while on the idea that conservative Christians view me as a sad case who reads the Bible humming, with fingers in her ears. "Well it can go both ways!" I want to say. "I struggle to avoid seeing you as someone who would fit in great in the 1850s! You might as well go back to using scripture to defend slavery!" I am ashamed by thoughts like that, but I am also incensed by the judgement by implication that my faith is weak because I have interpreted scripture differently.

And voilĂ ! Here comes the revelation.

My faith probably is weak. I don't think it is a result of the cause (as though trying to resolve cognitive dissonance between faith and homosexuality [since I don't experience any]), and I don't think the cause has directly resulted in my weak faith (except as a reaction to people like Fred Phelps, Rick Santorum, etc., etc.). But there is a good, good chance that perhaps I have loved the cause more than I have loved the Lord.

No matter which side you're on, that is exactly what the enemy wants.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Advocacy Burn-Out

There's this thing that happens to me sometimes. Something I care about becomes so overwhelming that it starts leaching into every thought and every other conversation. It wakes me up at night, and it keeps me up—I lie in bed replaying conversations (Why didn't I say that? How did I miss that terrible logic?)—and partly just to get some friggin sleep, I end up shutting down for a bit.

During this last bit, something pretty huge happened: California's proposition 8, which revoked the right of people who are gay to get married, was ruled unconstitutional by Judge Walker. He put a stay on that (i.e., "Let's wait a little bit before putting it into effect.") Then he took it away. Then someone else put it back. This gives the chance for that decision to get appealed. I don't know tons of details because of that shut-down I mentioned. If you want lots of details given by my side of the issue, go to If you want details given by the other side, go to

Just this past weekend, I got into what I perceived as a rather heated argument with my granddaddy about Judge Walker's decision. This is a remarkable event as I'd venture to guess that Granddaddy has had about two heated arguments in his whole life. He's pretty calm and cool. I'm not though.

Anyhow, it seems a lot of people who are conservative think the voters of California were pretty put out by this. The voters, and the democratic process in general, actually. After all, if what the voters want can be "ruled unconstitutional", what kind of democracy is that?

A fair question.

My answer: Since when can voters decide to revoke civil rights? What would have happened if white people could have voted on whether black people could vote? We don't ask our child if she'd like to invite that dorky kid to the party; we make her invite him.

And this is where Granddaddy and I diverged. Sin is not a civil right. Voting against gay marriage is akin to voting against murder. Or vandalism or car theft or female genital mutilation or having to check blow-out preventers. It's not a right. It's just wrong.

So I am freshly stirred up about all this. I'll begin posting about all the reasons my 17-year-old self used to give against being gay and gay marriage, and why I no longer believe those reasons. I'll start—naturally—at Genesis 1.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't Ask. Don't Tell. Don't Consider the Price.

It seems appropriate today to mention the portion of our armed forces who are forced to hide who they are from their fellow troops. But they may not have to much longer.

I'd like to discuss the implications the policy has had, and then I'd like to present my conservative case for its repeal.

Don't Ask Don't Tell was enacted in 1993 because some people who get weirded out by the thought of getting checked out by someone of their own sex thought that same scenario would weaken morale, unity, etc. in our military. (Slightly oversimplified, maybe.)

So here is what DADT means for people who are gay and in the military.

When other soldiers are talking about how much they miss their significant others, the ones who are gay are not allowed to commiserate. For fear of being discharged, they must hold their feelings inside. They are more apt to experience depression as a result.

DADT means that in order to ward off rumors, people sometimes go on dates with people they are not attracted to. That is not fun. It might be like wearing a costume when it is not Halloween, or being shoved onto stage when you don't consider yourself much of an actor, but you have seen the play a few times.

DADT also means there are men and women serving a country full of citizens who primarily think of them as abominations. They are offering their lives in order to protect people who hate them. Interesting concept.

Even if you understand that these implications of DADT shape the lives of some of our military personnel in odious ways, the policy may still be justifiable if its premise still stands.

But the thing is, it doesn't.

The following is a list of countries that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in their militaries:

Czech Republic
The Netherlands
New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom

I think it's reasonable to conjecture that if there were ill effects from allowing people to admit they are homosexual, this list would not be as long.

These reasons alone convince me that Don't Ask Don't Tell belongs in the trash, but if you're still not convinced, think about this:

It costs A LOT to train someone to serve in the military.

I have seen estimates that range from $150,000 to $3 million. Obviously it depends on what they are being trained to do. A private in the army costs far less to train than a navy seal or a pilot.

If you send someone home, you need to replace them.

About 12,500 people have been discharged because of DADT.

12,500 replacements were needed.

So at a minimum, tax payers have paid—wait a sec, my tiny calculator thinks a number this big must be an error... TI-85 to the rescue—$1,875,000,000 to train people to take the place of the gays and lesbians who have been discharged from the military.

Minimum. One billion, eight hundred seventy-five million dollars. (Just another waste that begs for conservatives to call themselves something more accurate.)

Hopefully on next year's Memorial Day, everyone who has served in the military will be honored.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out

While I'm busy reading up on government and how Christians ought to relate with it, I thought this juicy little news item deserved discussion.

Let me catch you up. . .

Jennifer Knapp, a singer/songwriter on a Christian label pumps out three albums. Some songs are refreshingly aggressive (to 17-year-old ears that had eschewed all secular music, anyway), and they curiously do not address romantic love. At Rebecca St. James' concerts, the audience would always hear a speech about saving yourself for marriage or becoming recycled virgins. Nothing of the sort was mentioned at Jennifer Knapp's shows.

She drops out of the CCM scene after touring for her third album. Rumours fly. She's pregnant. She's a lesbian. She's not a Christian anymore. She's fed up with the Christian music business.

Seven years later, she returns. It turns out none of those reasons are why she left. Oh, but yeah, she does have a girlfriend.

(Read the Christianity Today interview here. Scan the comments while you're at it.)

Anticlimactic, no?

I am thinking about feeling disappointed in Jennifer Knapp, and here's why: in the interview, she said she and her partner live together. I make the assumption that "living together" = "sexually active" (not that "living apart" = "inactive"), and I think that gay Christians are called to "sexual purity" just like straight ones. Being gay does not give you license here.

EDIT: I should point out though that there stands the possibility that since Knapp and her partner can't legally get married yet, perhaps they have made a commensurate commitment in another setting, just without a marriage license.

Did you read the comments though? In my last entry, I said that homosexuality is treated as worse sin, and I think some of the comments illustrated that nicely (meanly?).

"I am amazed at how many people are ignorant of the Word of God. It's clear, God's Word says, that people who engage in certain sins 'will not see the Kingdom of Heaven' and homosexuality is one of them."

"Christianity Today - A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction? I hardly think so! This article/interview with the now coming out Jennifer Knapp belongs in Rolling Stone where other Worldly, openly Gay people in the World can talk about their openly Gay stance, venting their issues with the Church, Christianity, the Bible, God & Jesus! It's obvious that Jennifer Knapp is NOT a believer and she as much as admits it when she talks about the clobber verses she doesn't like."

(Many commenters were able to remain hinged.)

I'm impressed that CT published the interview. I'm sure the reaction from their more conservative readership is not surprising them. Maybe there is even an office poll going. . . the one who most closely guesses the number of subscriptions dropped because of the interview gets a pizza.