Acceptance Strategy. Ain’t It Grand?

Well it certainly has been an interesting few weeks. First after a community meeting to find some common ground as to how to handle a belligerent homophobe in the Georgia State House, I was told point blank that I had no clue as to how to get things done with legislators. I was also told I had no idea of what it was to be a target every day at work. Huh?

Then a couple of weeks later the Georgia State House passes a resolution honoring an openly gay politician for their work in our community, and our community is no where to be found in the document except in code and the word gay just doesn’t exist. Huh?

One of the local gay news outlets “The GA Voice” has an editorial piece questioning the legitimacy of the honor if it is handed out in code.

“It’s one thing to utilize a subtle strategy to pass laws that benefit LGBT Georgians — like a general bullying bill that will help gay students, or a broader bill about hospital visitation when LGBT people are particularly vulnerable in these areas. Such an approach can be necessary to keep progress moving, even slowly, in a hostile legislature.

But I can’t help but wonder about the value of a resolution — which is designed to honor an individual — if we have to hide our heroes in the closet in order for them to get it.”

This editorial was met with an immediate response from the author of the resolution, to which the long and short of the response is this:

“Instead of a “closeting strategy,” as your paper suggests, passing this resolution might better be described as an “acceptance strategy. And ain’t it grand?” Huh?

I am sorry folks but this just strikes me as a nicer and cleaner form of “don’t ask don’t tell”!

I may not understand how all the ingredients to making sausage legislation works but I do understand it is not my job or the communities job to make those who seek to do us harm or deny us our rightful place in American society either overtly or covertly comfortable.

In fact as leaders in the community our job is more like the old saying, “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

I have been a pastor in our community since 1986, I have been married to my “husband” since 1982 and I have been out of the closet for 43 of my 56 years on this earth. Not once have I changed a pronoun, denied I was gay or allow homophobic slurs to go unchallenged. In fact when I answered the call to ministry and thereby becoming a leader in our community I took to heart the words of Jesus when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,” (Luke 4:18)

So with me it has always been, what you see is what you get. I will admit this has not gotten me a lot of invites into the “halls of power”.

A couple of years ago, I was called for jury duty in Fulton County. For those of you have been through this you know it is a huge cattle call. There are a couple of hundred people put in a room to wait to be called as potential jurists for a trial.

When they call you into a particular courtroom the vetting process begins with the attorney’s. They ask all kinds of personal questions including if you are married or not.

Teachable moment.

When asked if I was married my response was, “Not according to the State of Georgia.” Well the room of 60 or so folks got a small education in meeting a pastor who was gay and had been in a relationship longer than most of the room. The outcome? I didn’t get picked to serve but did give my card out to a half dozen people who wanted or needed a conversation about the whole “gay” thing.

When Representative Bobby Franklin says,

“we’re told in 1st Corinthians it rattled off the homosexual, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, and such were some of you, but you’ve been washed, you’ve been justified and so forth. It’s not what you were. You’re not punishing a thought. But do you want an unrepentant drug dealer in the military? Same thing.”

This cannot go unchallenged.

So when it was challenged you would have thought the world was about to end.

Had he said that about any other group of people, oh my God there would have been hell to pay! It is not enough they he went to our two openly gay representatives and allegedly apologized to them, saying, “I wasn’t talking about you darlin.”

First of all how sexist is that? Since when does one get to refer to a State Representative as “darlin”?

It also does not matter if most of his colleagues think he is nuts. What he said and what he has done since is vicious, arrogant and unacceptable. We as a community must hold him accountable. Are you reading this closely those of you who live his district? If you are in his district, time to step up and run against him and all his craziness. Your community is calling I pray to God you answer!

Our 2 representatives have faced bullying that is uncalled for in the least and would qualify as assault and sexual harassment in any other work environment. Where is the community outrage? Where is our community support? Do they not need our outrage? Do they not need our calls for dignity and decency? Calls? Hell no… demands!

Maybe that is why at least one of the representatives feels it necessary to have an “acceptance strategy”!

I have often said the folks on the “political and religious right” talk about us like we are not in the room or if they see us in the room they don’t care. They have been given a free ride, cause you know it is “just those homos who God hates.”

If I am correct even though our representatives chose to run and got elected to serve, they did not volunteer to do it alone without us to back them up when the “teachable moments” come.

I find it interesting there was a huge outrage and action on the part of our community when the Eagle was subject of a “raid”.

So now I wonder where is the outrage, the community out pouring of our time, talents and wealth, political and spiritual pressure when we are faced with:

1 in 4 black men being HIV positive

Our young people believing safe sex and relationships are passé because HIV is manageable.

1,000 plus on a waiting list for HIV meds

No shelter in the city allowing Transgender persons a place to lay their head as the gender they identify with.

It is still apparently ok to throw the Transgender community under the bus if it means the rest of the community gets what it wants.

Having no real protection from “hate crimes”.

Having no employment protection.

Having no property protection.

Having few ways of protecting our spouses with insurance.

Living in paralyzing fear our kids will be taken from us.

Allowing our relationships to be trashed in the State Constitution

Watching as immigrants in our state maybe required to show papers to prove who knows what-how far away can having a gay card requirement be? By the way some of those immigrants are GLBTQI and will be killed when they are sent back.

Allowing ourselves to be pushed out of our neighborhoods and clubs by neighborhood associations.

Allowing racism, sexism, ageism and the entire ism’s to go unattended in a meaningful way in our community.

The list goes on, but wait maybe the representative is right after all. Our non-profits are all suffering from a lack of volunteers and money and our leaders are feeling alone because we as the LGBTQIA community as a whole have become a little too comfortable with an “acceptance strategy. And ain’t it grand?”

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.