Thursday, May 24, 2007

TGIQ

Thank God I am Queer - A Gay Christian's Journey

When : 24 May 2007, Thursday, 7.30pm
Where : Free Community Church

The Rev. Dr. Mel White is a former ghostwriter for fellow evangelicals, including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and Jerry Falwell. Inspired by the nonviolence movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., White developed a program based on their principles to address the suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In 1997, he was awarded the ACLU’s National Civil Liberties Award for his efforts to apply the “soul force” principles of Gandhi and King to the struggle for justice for sexual minorities. He is the author of over 16 books, including Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, published in 1994, and Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, published in 2006.

Not only is he a celebrated writer, he's also a powerful advocate for being Christian and gay. And he speaks from a position of authority, having been the Dean of the Cathedral of Hope MCC in Dallas (the largest gay-lesbian church in the US) and Minister of Justice of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. At the personal level, Mel White struggled with his sexuality for more than 30 years, before he finally accepted his sexual orientation as "a gift from God.

The above was what attracted me to attend his sharing earlier today.

Rev Dr Mel White started off with how he lived with his wife for 30 years and one day tried to kill himself. Even though his wife is a wonderful woman, there was always this tension behind it. They had two kids; one who is Mike White who is now a millionaire (Hmmm, all those years of suffering. But thank God I now have a millionaire son!).

After the suicide attempt, the wife said to him, "Mel, I think you're gay. I want you to be happy, and I want me to be happy. You're not coming to terms with it and I am doing it for you."

The wife gave him a coin, one side which shows the Statue of Liberty (liberation to be who you are) and the other which has a pair of eagles with two eaglets. Even though he is gay, they're still a family (the four eagles) and they still love him.

He also shared his experience of how he tried to exorcise the demons within him, the demon of homosexuality. He went to the most famous church of exorcism and they can't help him. He went to see a psychiatrist and begged to be to be electrocuted, even though it was not recommended.

Every time he turned a card and there was a picture of a hot man behind it, he would be shocked with electricity. If it was a woman, there would be a mild shock. In the end, he had a crush on the cute guy who administered the shocks! ;P

Basically, homosexuality is not something that can be erased, eradicated or exorcised. It is a desire and a longing to be with another man, to come home and be greeted by a man, to wake up beside a man everyday, to hold another man's hands and walk on the beach. Homosexuality is an orientation and it's not just all about sex.

And the Biblical authors surely did not understand the concept of sexual orientation in that era, as even many do not today.

He has so much energy and passion, even though he is 67 years old. His message is of love and acceptance of oneself. God created each and everyone of us. All of are loved by Him and has a purpose and no one should tell you otherwise. God loves all of His creations.

A lot of things he said is very logical. It doesn't make sense for the Being that created you to hate you.

And the Bible has been misused many times to support all sorts of atrocities - the Inquisition, Crusades, child labour, slavery, keeping woman inferior and "in their place", etc.

He said he loves the bumper stinker which says "Jesus is coming back and he is pissed", as the church has been fuelling bigotry and killing young gays and lesbians silently. Jesus came to spread love to everybody; he embraced and included especially the marginalised and outcasts; he served the people. The church is now doing the exact opposite.

Rev White said he knows of a famous dance photographer who donated $10,000 to his church and then killed himself because "he has been rejected by his family, friends and church".

Another 16 year old killed himself in front of the mortuary and lied on a piece of plastic so as not to give much hassle to those who would take the body away. He was valedictorian for his year.

All in all, Rev White personally knew of 23 persons who took their own lives in the last 12 years.

In addition, Rev White believes in "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance", as written from the Soulforce website. This was inspired by people like Martin King Jr and Gandhi.

Something that he did was to attend Jerry Falwell's church and everytime they say something bad about homosexuality, they will stand up in church and protest. He said to Jerry, "We will win your hearts and minds, but unfortunately he died."

As can be read from the article in Wikipedia, Rev Dr Mel White has been together with his partner Gary Nixon for 23 years.

After his sharing, he was asked a few questions. One of them was about sexual ethics.

Rev White shared with the floor about the time he was caught cheating. Gary asked him "Did you have sex with him?" and he said no. Gary then called him you lying sack of shit.

Later when they talked about it, Gary said that it was not the cheating part that hurt, but it was the lying. It starts with one lie and who knows where it would end? That thought was scarier and more hurtful than the infidelity. The foundation of trust and honest communication has been broken and a meaningful relationship cannot be built based on that.

The point being that there is no fixed sexual ethics. Monogamy, polygamy, menage-a-trois, open relationship - all these have to be based on honesty, trust, integrity and love.

Jesus mentioned something about using people as sex objects. Buddhism mentions something similar about sexual misconduct, defined as that which brings harm to oneself, to others or to both oneself and others.

If one were to "bounce, bounce, bounce and bounce from one bed to another, it could become an addiction or sickness". One night of sex based on a meaningful relationship and love is worth more than a hundred random sexual encounters.

It has been a really enjoyable evening for me. The message that being gay as a gift from God was mentioned many many times. That God created you and loves you just the way you are. The sooner one accepts that the better.

There was so much positivity in his sharing. It is seldom that I come across this, as the usual case would be more of criticism and condemnation of gays, gay lifestyle, sinful and hedonistic endeavours in the media and political speeches.

I am not a fan of religion, especially Christianity. All the violence, discrimination and killings justified by religion really gets to me. I know the religion itself is all about love, but I find it difficult to separate that from the Church.

Jesus himself was a great person, with lots of wisdom, compassion and love. If I were to look at those positives and ignore all those destroying of whole villages, killings of the young and innocent, raping of woman, I suppose it isn't such a bad religion after all ;P

P/S His long term relationship of more than 20 years does show that it is possible for gay relationships to work and it's not all doom and gloom. I really want something like that with Nyk ;P

5 comments:

Legolas said...

They lying part is really more hurting than the betraying part.

Will said...

I'm glad you're gay, Derek, because otherwise I would not have gotten to know you. And that's a pretty great gift in itself!

Ban said...

While this blog post is well written, I can't help but wonder why Derek is hung up about Christianity in particular. ;) *poke poke poke*

(If anyone should be hung up it should be moi, so there. :P )

Queer Ranter said...

Make it happen with NYK then Derek. :)

Derek said...

legolas: I never see it that way until now. I suppose the lying part is a precursor to what else is wrong in a relationship.


will: Haha ... thanks. Yup, me or you not being gay would have made things very different for us.


ban: Yeah I know it should be you ;P

When he said "One shouldn't throw away the baby with the bath" I immediately thought of you. He said we gays have bigger spirits than that.


queerranter: Yup I will *hugs*