A question of authenticity

Candorville on Monday:

Cartoonist Darrin Bell has followed this with a very funny series exposing the opponents of the hate crimes bill, here, here, here and here.

This was going to be a post about the Janet and Lisa Miller-Jenkins case, specifically about certain memes being repeated by supporters, exploiters and other assorted hangers-on who had hoped to use Bob Marshall’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” to strip a lesbian mother of her parental rights.

For instance, local parenting/social issues blogger and professing Christian Barbara Curtis posted a commentary on the case here, with the inclusion of this interesting argument:

Lisa is facing having her daughter taken away from her [for shared custody one weekend per month – Ed.] to be raised by two other mothers (Jenkins is now partnered with another woman) with no biological connection and no relationship at all for the past two years. [emphasis mine].

Not to nitpick or anything, but why exactly is it that Janet hasn’t seen her daughter for two years? Could it be because Lisa snatched the child and fled to Virginia, hoping to cut Janet out of their lives permanently? I just find it astonishing that anyone would so brazenly use a bad situation wholly engineered by one parent as an argument against the custody rights of the other parent.

At any rate, the post concluded with an I-don’t-hate-gays disclaimer and the statement “I’ve seen the lifestyle up close and personal.” Jonathan commented to that post, politely suggesting that Barbara doesn’t have a very comprehensive understanding of the GLBT community, and opening up a dialogue about being gay and Christian. Barbara responded in a new post.

“Conversation” ensued. The term “conversation” cannot be accurately used here without the quotes, since only some reader comments are being released from moderation on Barbara’s blog. Although she advertises no commenting policy, she regularly discards comments that challenge or question her statements. To her credit, she at least (sometimes) acknowledges that she does this, as in the following:

I have, btw, deleted a few comments from homosexuals who want a soapbox for their philosophy (ditto those attacking Falwell). This is my soapbox and I don’t ascribe to the idea that bloggers have an obligation to print all comments. We all get plenty of exposure to pro-gay stuff in the mainstream media, I don’t go to gay blogs to argue with their owners, and I don’t feel it’s appropriate for them to come here to argue with me.

Here is one of the comments she deleted, which was in response to both her reply to Jonathan and my comment:

What a gracious response from both of you. Thank you for being a model of how people with very different perspectives may respectfully converse.

I must add, however, that literal & fundamental reading of Biblical scriptures was never Jesus’s intention nor does it literally describe all or even accurately God’s thinking on what is good and right versus what is bad and evil.

Love, my friends, is powerful and omnipotent and godly and right and good. It comes from God Himself. Love, no matter the shape and form that it takes, if it be true and building and inspiring, is NEVER a sin.

This is the one mistake that many people make in my opinion. And we can dialogue about it all day and night, but only God may be the judge. And being 100% at peace with that loving being’s decision to bestow that love in many forms upon human souls should be a tenet of every religious denomination, but it is obviously not.

Those of you who choose to sit in judgment of others’ true loves and healthy spiritual journeys should simply take Barbara’s advice, and learn to acknowledge with an open mind, that you may not have it right.

Many of us do that. For myself, I know who it is in my soul that God chose for me to be and how He has asked me to love, in unioned sharing of body and spirit, and neighbor-to-neighbor.

I would however, NEVER dare to diminish the light and truth witnessed by others’ on their true spirit and nature, and condemn them to any less than glorious love from God above for living a good, true, loving existence.

In my opinion, that is where many of us may differ with Barbara and others.

You can see by reading the comments why she can’t allow this viewpoint to appear alongside the reality she is creating on her blog – a reality in which people who are not gay are given free rein to opine about us, our lives, our families, our motivations, our faith, who we “really” are, our inner mental states, etc, etc.

For a sampling of this discourse, just read the comments at 3:57 and 4:32 on May 17. One reader announces that GLBT people can become Christians, but that God “gives us time once we become Christians to overcome our “‘issues,'” to which Barbara replies, “Implicit in what I said about a GLBT being able to be a Christian is the assumption that he or she would be changed and leave that lifestyle behind.”

Maintaining the fiction that Barbara’s virtual community is somehow more of an authority on gay people than are gay people ourselves means that an honest, open conversation about this can’t take place there. This is a fundamentally weak position to be arguing from, demonstrated by the need to delete and then demean a perfectly reasonable, kind contribution from a gay reader as “wanting a soapbox.” This is in fact the same argument made by Patrick Henry College, in characterizing the honest sharing of personal experience by other human beings as “a manipulative form of political theater.”

Yet more irony: Barbara protests that she is a multi-dimensional person and primarily blogs about parenting, yet we only seem interested in her posts on the gay community. As a matter of fact, I often agree with and find her parenting and housekeeping advice helpful. How could that be? Here’s the irony: I’m a parent, and I have a house to clean. In fact, I have a pretty mundane lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that the statement “I’ve seen the lifestyle up close and personal” doesn’t really take into account, suggesting that the speaker doesn’t know what she’s talking about. On the one hand Barbara wants to know why we can’t assimilate (which for her seems synonymous with being closeted), but actual assimilation, in which there is no discernible difference between our lifestyles, undermines the foundation of her argument.

The bottom line is this: We are the authorities on our own identities and lives. Authentic voices from our community easily undermine and expose these inauthentic, fraudulent ones. Although she frequently speaks of her irresponsible youth as an attribute that gives her credibility, the fact that Barbara did drugs with some gay men in the seventies does not qualify her to speak with authority on GLBT people and our families.

I have now heard from several individuals whose comments were deleted from Barbara’s blog – this in spite of her own statements that she is “open to learning where I have been wrong” and “willing to grow and change,” and one reader’s comment that she hopes the dialogue will continue. Feel free to use the comment section here to repost those comments. Barbara and her readers are welcome to comment as well. We do not have the problem here of arguing from a position of weakness.

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2 Responses to A question of authenticity

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