God vs. Man

July 2006

by Raymond J. Aguilera

 

I had a completely different editorial in mind this month. Honestly, I'm not sure I want to write about this. I'm having a hard enough time thinking about it.

God.

Three little letters. One huge concept. Especially for me. Where I live—and I'm speaking literally and metaphorically here—the cars are far more likely to have a "Dog is my Co-Pilot" sticker on the back than that Jesus-fish thing. See! The Jesus-fish probably has a name, and I don't even know what it is.

Two things happened in the last week that left me thinking about God. First, I went to the San Francisco Pride parade.

As it happened, the "Christian" protesters were directly across the street from me, with their signs assuring me that I'd burn in hell, and that God created AIDS to cure fags. You know, nice, wholesome, family values. Honest to ... um ... God, I suppose ... that kind of rhetoric has no effect on me whatsoever. I can't even bother to get mad. I do find it incredibly fascinating however. The armchair sociologist in me would love to be inside those brains for an afternoon, just to understand how they think. In the same way that car wrecks and Martha Stewart's talk show completely suck me in, I am fascinated by disaster.

But I wasn't bothered. Mostly, I was just hoping that some big burly leather daddies would run up to the skinny, pale-looking protesters and make out with them. Not that I'm down with sexual assault. No means No, and all that, but maybe, just this once ...

Anyway, fast forward a few days, and a message comes across BENT's companion e-mail list: "'Being born gay' is like saying 'I was born to murder,' We all know murder is wrong and cannot be accepted. No one advocates that murders should be accepted as a lifestyle." This came from a disabled man who alluded to same-sex experiences in the past, and to praying that God will "shield" him in the future.

Yikes! I'm not going to re-hash the whole debate here, but a few interesting things popped up for me that I keep going over in my head. I replied with a rather gently-worded e-mail, just to let him know that his words were likely to be taken as hostile and homophobic to members of the group. The reply I got was that if we were more "enlightened," we would be able to tolerate different points of view. To me this seemed creative doublespeak. The group was being called out as intolerant for daring to disagree with someone who came into our space—our space—and told us we are all no better than murderers. Who's being intolerant here?

Others in the group had also responded, and I can honestly say that all the responses fell in the realm of "disagreement". Considering the nastiness of what had been said, I was surprised at the civility of it all. In the end, the guy did what homophobes always do. He ran away. Rather than stay and discuss what are obviously some deep-seated beliefs, he ran away. The easy way out if there ever was one. On one level, I'm prone to say "Good riddance!" and be done. I can't stop thinking about it, though. I just feel so bad for the guy. I can't fathom what it must feel like to have certain attractions, and live constantly feeling that those attractions condemn you to an eternity of suffering. Not to mention a lifetime of feeling you're no better than someone who would kill another human being.

I cannot imagine how pained someone's life must be that they feel compelled to describe themselves in those terms. In my spiritual universe, higher powers have enabled many things to exist. Among them: bacon, old Beach Boys records, roller coasters, family Thanksgivings, e-mail, Zinfandel, dogs running on the beach, reruns of "90210" and the opportunity for me to love whomever I chose, knowing that love is pure and good.

In someone else's universe, things are clearly quite different.

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© 2006 Raymond J.Aguilera
Parade photograph 2006 Matt Cohen