Saturday, 30 June 2012

Spiritual Death and Cookies: Pride 2012

So, Pride 2012 has been accompanied by some news stories – some that show how it’s working, and others that show why it’s still necessary.

There are plenty of inclusive, sensitive people who think that battles against –isms have largely been won. Depending on your circumstances, you might find it’s easy to forget sometimes. You learn in school that men and women are equal and that we now know black people are just as good as white, even if some people whose views do not reflect our own treated their ancestors horribly hundreds of years ago. You learn about gay rights, and the massive disparity between the bigotry-ridden past and the progressive present.  You learn that things are different now, and that even if there’s still work to be done, they're getting better and better.

There is a myth of progress afoot in schools and popular history. We are invited to remember the wrongs of our ancestors, to examine them, (believe we) understand them, and make a theatre of warning from them so as not to be repeat them. We learn little of how they are repeated all around us every day. This has the effect of placing them squarely in the past, and we are encouraged to remember them as painful chapters from a history that we use to congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come. 

Hopefully we wise up a bit as we get older and begin to understand something of how the world works. Still, if we are privileged enough, we can dismiss some of the most noxious forms of bigotry as so much background noise from a lunatic fringe that's on its way out.

Until the hard reality of this "progressive" present intrudes, of course, as it must. So you’re kind of shocked the first time you hear your disabled friend’s stories about the fucking vile shit people have said to him while he’s been out and about. You sit there nonplussed while Carol Sarler tells you what women are for (spoiler: it’s childbearing. Women who don’t want to be baby-machines are “weird”). You listen with growing depression as your younger relatives join the older in tirades of bile against Gays On the Bus, stare when the old white woman in front of you at the train station starts racially abusing the Indian ticket officer. You watch the bubble burst and think, “Have we really not come further than this?” 

Events like Pride are a mixed bag - of both progress made, and endemic bullshit yet to be conquered. Let’s start with the good. JCPenney have been in the news recently: earlier this year, they were publically called out by vigilante homophobes One Million Moms, whose actions here seem to revolve overwhelmingly around their morbid recurrent nightmares about gay sex.

Pictured: a homosexual, after corrupting your children and feeding off of their innocence.

Blogger ThemesOMM weren’t happy that the store was using openly gay Ellen Degeneres as its official spokesperson. JCPenney stood by their choice, telling OMM that Ellen reflected their values of unity and diversity, and politely insinuated that OMM could go fuck itself. Not long after this, the store followed up with a Mothers’ Day advert featuring two moms.

OMM were now really pissed off. When the gloves came off and the bigots came from far and wide to point the trembling finger of accusation, JCPenney responded to the homophobic backlash with a metaphorical finger of their own. This one took the form of a Fathers’ Day advert starring two dads, a real-life couple.

 And not a single fuck was given that day.
However sadly, JCPenney's slightly awesome trolling only tells one half of the extremely nasty story that is society's treatment of the LGBTQ community. Later on June 26th, the Oreo Facebook page posted a rainbow-filled cookie in honour of Gay Pride. And once again, while the response was reported by Oreo to have been mostly positive, it also brought out the people who remind us why Pride is still necessary when this post:

 ... spawned these responses (among others):


Meanwhile, the Salvation Army found themselves at the centre of a shit-storm that has left them tripping over themselves to passive-aggressively, sort-of-almost apologise, after an interview with Major Andrew Craibe, the Salvation Army’sTerritorial Media Relations Director, in Australia. According to the linked article, Craib made the following comments during the radio interview:

Ryan: According to the Salvation Army, [gay people] deserve death. How do you respond to that, as part of your doctrine?
Craibe:  Well, that’s a part of our belief system.
Ryan: So we should die.
Craibe: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.
Ryan: … you’re proposing in your religious doctrine and the way that you train — this is part of your training of your soldiers — that because we’re gay, that we must die... I mean, how can you stand by that? How is that Christian?
Craibe: Well, well, because that is part of our Christian doctrine –
Ryan:  But how is that Christian? Shouldn’t it be about love?
Craibe: Well, the love that we would show is about that: consideration for all human beings to come to know salvation…
Ryan Or die…
Craibe: Well, yes.

I love it when people talk about aspects of their faith that make them uncomfortable as though they have nothing to do with them. "Look man, it's not me, it's the CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE". Oh really? Well in that case, fuck you twice, for not even having your own individual reasons for being full of hate.

The SA weren’t done, though – there was still a whole world out there to salvation from its own gayness. The only thing more quease-inducing than the interview itself was the half-arsed "Love us, we're LIBRULLS!!" disclaimer they added to their FAQ afterwards, in response to the controversy Craib’s comments generated:

Do Salvation Army full members believe, as per the Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, that practising homosexuals should be put to death? Why, or why not?
Salvation Army members do not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment. The Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine does not state that practising homosexuals should be put to death and, in fact, urges all Salvationists to act with acceptance, love and respect to all people. The Salvation Army teaches that every person is of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.
Why include in your handbook the Romans text from The Bible, which indicates that God insists that homosexuals deserve to die?
This is a misunderstanding of the text referred to. The Scripture in question, viewed in its broader context, is not referring to physical death, nor is it specifically targeted at homosexual behaviour. The author is arguing that no human being is without sin, all sin leads to spiritual death (separation from God), and all people therefore need a Saviour.
Isn’t this inherently anti-Christian, to believe people should be put to death?
The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory acknowledges that the response in the interview has led to a serious misunderstanding of our teaching and that clarification should have been given during the interview.
The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and believes it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to call for anyone to be put to death. We consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.
Do you feel you owe an apology or explanation to all those gay and lesbian volunteers and people your organisation supports?
The Salvation Army sincerely apologises to all members of the GLBT community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offence caused by this miscommunication.

"Uhhh... love and respect to all... every human life a gift... *some semi-audible rambling to effect of "why y'all keep going on about butt-sex, clearly the author was referring to SPIRITUAL DEATH"*... All a huge misunderstanding... no human being without sin... apologise to the LGBT community for sounding like we want you to die when actually, we just want to save you from the SPIRITUAL DEATH of your unnatural lifestyles... so, we cool now, guys? Guys?"

Both strides and stark reminders pepper Pride, as they do all marginal movements. But although it's hard to get starry-eyed over the motives of corporations in these times, it's at least nice to know that tolerance is becoming as profitable a line to toe as bigotry. Fuck it, I'm feeling sentimental, and the colours in that cookie up there take me to a world where every food company follows JCPenney’s and Oreo’s example, and the “spiritual death” of sharing a world with PURE GAY EVIL becomes actual death from starvation on the hunger strikers’ own self-righteousness. It will be glorious: rainbows will adorn the sky, and lions will lie down with lambs, and NOT fuck them because the lambs haven’t grown into sheep yet and gay # paedophile.

Happy Pride!

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