pope francis, the catholic church, and homosexuality

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, was in Rio last week for a giant world youth rally. The man is extremely popular, and no surprise when you compare him with his predecessor.

On why people were leaving the Catholic church in droves:

Perhaps the church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas,” he said. “Perhaps the world seems to have made the church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions. Perhaps the church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.

On gay priests:Read More »

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[update] marriage equality legislation is here to stay

[UPDATE 21/5/13] Quick congrats to England and Wales for passing marriage equality legislation! Despite this Tim Loughton “wrecking amendment” regarding civil partnerships for heterosexual couples. Frig, the bill doesn’t need to be any more complicated than it already is.  So now we can consider scrapping civil partnerships altogether, as they were artificially introduced as a consolation prize to same-sex couples who were excluded from the (civil) institution of marriage.

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A quick congrats to Minnesota for passing marriage equality legislation less than an hour ago! Minnesota joins 11 other states + D.C. I am now taking bets as to how many states will pass such legislation before the federal government jumps on the bandwagon. My own bet? 50. When it comes to the US federal government I keep my expectations loooooooooow.

April 2013 was whirlwind month for marriage equality worldwide, with 3 new countries (+ 1 US state) joining the club of sanity. Current club members are the Netherlands, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, France, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa and New Zealand. Point of clarification: there is no actual club!

provocative choice

I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.

Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and the City fame, said this in an empowerment speech to a gay audience who, unsurprisingly, reacted negatively to it. While the statement itself doesn’t necessarily imply that she thinks being gay can be a choice, she explained in a recent NYT interview that being gay was, for her, in fact, a choice.

The negative reaction from people who are pro gay rights is unsurprising because Nixon’s assertion that she chooses to be gay at best implies that sexual orientation can be a choice and at worst is evidence that sexual orientation is a choice. Nixon’s response to calls for her to reword her statement is that no one else can define her gayness for her. Which is fair enough… or is it?

I support individual license to identify and define their own sexuality and sexual orientation… to others. Whether one is able to shape one’s own orientation – not the appearance of it, but the substance – is another question, and it’s the big question, the answer to which is often what draws the line separating the pro gay rights from the anti gay rights camps. Often. Not always. I think there’s at least one liberal hipster out there who thinks that believing orientation is a choice combined with being pro gay is sooo progressive and 21st century. No matter where you stand on the choice/not a choice issue, you’d probably have to admit that Nixon’s statement implies huge privilege of position. How many people do you know have said, “I chose to be gay”? I don’t know a single one. I don’t know of a single one. It’s hard enough defending one’s gayness; it must be harder still defending one’s choice to be gay.

The reason I didn’t frame the dichotomy as choice/born this way (and that does it for my monthly quota of pop cultural references) is because  I think our sexual orientations can change. We can’t change them, but they can change over the course of a lifetime. Whether and when change takes place is purely random, and there’s nothing we can do to help it along or stop it or affect it in any way.  That perhaps puts me in the minority (what else is new?!) of believing that Nixon could’ve been straight once and is gay now, while the majority sarcastically asks whether she’s heard of ‘bisexuality’. Well, she could be bisexual, but that’s definitely not for me or anyone else to say. All I’m saying is, it’s possible that she used to be straight and now she’s not. But I don’t believe it’s because of a choice she made. It just happened.

It’s a complex thing, sexual orientation, and identity, and choice. All we’ve got to go on is really just our own experiences. If you’re lucky you’ve also got honest conversations with other people to add secondhand experience to your own. I can’t be the only one having difficulty wrapping my head around the possibility of sexual orientation being a choice, simply because for me it wasn’t.

Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate.

Legitimacy is in question because it smells like a metapreference more than a preference. Her “gay is better” comment makes it sound like she prefers to prefer women, rather than preferring women. In the spirit of Butler’s Gender Trouble, though, I’ll concede it’s possible. It just seems highly improbable. Oh, and Nixon’s point about problems with our discourse and letting bigots shape the debate is well made and well taken.

confessions

I have a few things to confess today. You’re welcome to think me a worse person after reading, but do leave a comment if you have time to explain why.

1. I think some good can come out of the slaughters in Oslo and on Utøya. Hopefully it will generate discussion and debate on right wing extremism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA in creating and sustaining dangerous stereotypes, the need for more journalistic integrity, Muslims, Christians and terrorism. The silver lining is actually that these discussions will lead to a widespread social rejection of the populist right and reverse the current frightening movement rightward, especially in Europe.

2. I want the global economy to crash and burn. Capitalism does not make the world a better place, and it needs to go, or at least be altered. With the debt crises in the US and Eurozone, we are already starting to witness the inevitable collapse of the global capitalist economy. The frontpage headline on Al Jazeera today is: "Stocks collapse on global slowdown fears". My question is: "So what?" We place far too much importance on financial markets. The economy is not an end in itself, and economic growth should not be the goal of a country. Hopefully current economic woes will help people understand that.

3. Gay pride parades scare me and I’ve never been to one. On the one hand I see the need to trouble the heteronormativity of public space, which is why I support them loudly from the comfort of my home, but on the other it’s a shame that sexual orientation and identity *need* to be politicised and paraded for a greater good. I suppose, however, that all minorities face the pressure to oversimplify and commodify their culture and identity in order to gain public support, and thus, political victory. In addition, pride parades are political not only between marcher and spectator, but also within the marchers themselves; the idea that all non-heteros can march under one unified umbrella is absurd. But such marchng does wonders for publicising the fight for equal rights, so this is me being a slacktivist.

4. Work-related social media is turning me off my own Facebook (because a more lighthearted confession was called for). Sharing links, tweeting and updating statuses has literally become a job now. Hur-freaking-rah. Maybe this will free up some time, energy and material for blogging.