Today's post is from Susan Campbell, author of Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl. Campbell's writing has been recognized by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors; National Women's Political Caucus; the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, and the Connecticut chapter of Society of Professional Journalists. She was also a member of the Hartford Courant's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for breaking news. Susan blogs at the Hartford Courant and at her Dating Jesus blog, where this post originally appeared.
This past Sunday morning, for the first time in their 33-year relationship, Janet and Carol woke up within the state-sanctioned state of marriage. They got married Saturday night amid music and tears and bubbly.
And after the ceremony, the dance music started (the DJ apologized for playing “I’m Coming Out” because it was such a cliche but she said she just had to) and even though the church of my origin didn’t allow it, I have left that church and now I dance. I don’t dance well, but I dance with heart. Even swinging around out on the dance floor, people kept saying they never thought they’d live to see the day... never thought in their lifetime... and they didn’t have to finish the sentence because, well, you just knew.
Janet and Carol had to wait until the Connecticut Supreme Court said it was O.K. to marry and that august body did so last October, in a decision that bears reading. It was an emotional decision, and one that can still get an argument going, even if the relatively progressive state of Connecticut.
Believe me, I get that. Growing up in the Anita Bryant era, I was on the side of Miss Florida Sunshine. As a teenager, I occasionally joined with my fellows to park in a car outside what we thought was Joplin’s one gay bar, and we yelled… things. I guess you could call it hate speech, though at the time, I saw it strictly as a way to kill time on a Saturday night, and I didn’t give it another thought, not on Sunday morning in church, not on Monday morning at school. We just did it because, well, queers are queer.
I get where that comes from. Fear and removal. I’d been told some grossly inaccurate things about homosexuals (fear), and because I didn’t know any homosexuals (removal), it was O.K. for me to hate. Except I did know some. I just didn’t know that I did.
As I got older, I started circulating more, and met people who were out, who felt comfortable enough to tell me that. I’d stopped yelling things outside of bars, but I have to say the first time someone told me her orientation it shook me, just a bit.
I’d like to think I’ve grown up some, and I’ve studied on this, as we say in my neighborhood. This is what it is, part of God’s queendom, and the verses I used to sling around to condemn gays and lesbians I now see I was lifting out of context, and don’t even get me started with Leviticus.
I don’t see the point in parsing this if you’re taking the Christian scriptures’ message as a whole. That’s love. That’s visit the widows and orphans and keep yourself unspotted from the world. I am still massively capable of hatred — I’ve honed it to an art — but not in this realm. Using the Bible as a weapon is no longer an interesting way for me to kill time. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. I’m going to assume it wasn’t an issue for him.
Look, I know people want to throw scriptures at this and send gays and lesbians to hell, but I am convinced there are other, more pressing issues — poverty and racism, for two – at which we should throw our energies. And not parking outside of gay bars certainly frees up my Saturday nights for more intellectual pursuits.
O.K. Sermon’s over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m due back out on the dance floor.