I can’t keep up with all the great people and amazing conversations. While in Oxford I stayed with Sally, a former math teacher who now does volunteer work to help asylum seekers. Also, dinner with Jimbo and Trevor from GCN consisted of a full English breakfast (vegetarian style) and stimulating conversation that kept me up late into the night thinking.
Yesterday I met Willie Hewes, the comic artist who created Free Z, a comic based on events at LIA this summer. In her home I saw her workspace, original sketches and some upcoming projects. She does the writing, drawing, and even grinds the special ink sticks she uses. These are handcrafted comics–expertly rendered with moving, meaningful stories.
Over dinner (Chinese food) we discussed LIA, Exodus and the religious right. I reminded myself that these groups and the people behind them are not my enemies. Currently they may be opponents, but I believe in these people, and as a Christian, believe that we are family.
I believe the folks at behind Love Won Out, Exodus and LIA mean well. They truly believe they save souls from miserable lives in this world and damnation in the next. Many even feel called to this work and make considerable sacrifices to do it. I believe if they knew the sort of damage they were doing, they would stop and seek to make things right.
Having met the folks at Courage in the UK who made those very changes, I feel more hope than ever for individual leaders in the US “ex-gay” movement.
In the queer community we have to acknowledge that we also have work to do. There is a reason why so many people each year elect to attend an “ex-gay” program. For some the queer community looms over them like a stark wasteland of promiscuity, bad relationships and shallowness. In some ways they are correct in their assessment.
Many of us had to fight our way into a healthy life, and the gay community was not always affirming of the choices we made. Gay people of faith and those who choose to be celibate before being in a committed relationship can find resistance from what seems the dominate gay culture.
We are in the midst of our own culture war (well skirmishes at least) in the gay community. Some queer folks in reaction to the hyper sexuality, the dominate white-male-driven gay media and the anger born out of hurt, are beginning to condemn their own people.
As we point out the faults and dangers of “ex-gay” groups and anti-gay conservative Christian groups, let us also turn a throughfully critical eye on ourselves. In the words of one wise teacher–
You see the sliver in your friend’s eye, but you don’t see the timber in your own eye. When you take the timber out of your own eye, then you will see well enough to remove the sliver from your friend’s eye.