Friday, January 30, 2009

Sound Off

Ms. Haubenstock’s review of RTP’s “Altar Boyz” showed up in the T-D today and apparently, as with “Cuckoo’s Nest” when it opened a few weeks ago, the sound quality proved to be a bit of an issue. A church can be a challenging space (just ask the folks at Richmond Shakespeare) so I hope they get whatever problems there may be worked out because otherwise the show seems pretty darn promising.

Maybe it’s fate that RTP’s show is the most recent opening to talk about because I find myself pretty het up these days about the whole issue of gay rights. I try to keep “politics” per se out of this space but they can’t help but sneak in at times. And besides, while the gay rights issue has been politicized, I don’t consider it fundamentally political. It’s about biology and privacy and humanity and acceptance and about a lot of other things, but I don’t think it should be about politics.

Anyway, I caught an interview with former pastor Larry Haggard that was kind of the tipping point. Why is this guy so terrified of admitting his homosexuality? Perhaps, as he admits, because being gay in some circles would be worse than being a murderer? That’s just wrong. (To CNN’s credit, they also interviewed someone to contradict the idiotic and damaging mythology that Haggard propagates.)

To me, Haggard’s attitude is just a symptom of the Christian arrogance and hypocrisy that bubbles under the surface of our society, something that I’ve also been a little prickly about lately. Since when did “Christian” become synonymous with “good?” Are good “Christian” values fundamentally different than good “Jewish” values or good “Muslim” values? Or even good “human” values?

What then kills me is when I overhear a conversation between some of the overtly and devoutly Christian people I work with talking about issues like immigration or social programs. The Bible has literally thousands of references and prescriptions about poverty. But even those who proclaim a Biblical basis for their prejudicial attitude about homosexuality can only find a half-dozen passages that refer to it at all. Why is it that gay issues spur their anxiety and immigrants who have the audacity to want a slice of the fat American pie get them all het up, but persistent poverty does not? During this season of "Acts of Faith" maybe this is an issue that could get talked about (as I hope it did when "Little Dog Laughed" was part of the festival last year.)

I have many gay friends and at least a couple openly gay relatives and I find it shameful that they are still discriminated against so overtly in what some people still insist on calling our “Christian” nation. (I should also add that I know many compassionate, amazing, and devout Christians who support gay rights as well. Don't mean to be hatin on all the Christians, just the hypocritical ones.)

OK, rant over. Oh, and one last confidential aside to someone named Kris who submitted a comment here a couple of days ago: your point may be totally valid but your comment falls too squarely in the category of kicking someone when they're down which is why I didn’t post it. Sorry about that.

Update: If I'm going to do such a bitchy little rant, I figure I should try to lighten it up a bit. Here's a funny little back-n-forth with Stephen Colbert and Dan Savage, talking about Prop 8. Enjoy.


Unknown said...

I think the people you're upset with are fundamentalist conservative Christians, specifically.

I believe in Christ but often don't speak of it publicly because being Christ-like (i.e. forgiving, accepting and loving the world around you and everyone in it) is not the image often associated with the term "Christian" in these our modern times. My mother is a Presbyterian minister, and I sometimes hesitate to tell people that because I'm afraid they'll immediately get the perception of a Jerry Fallwell type, condemning people to hell and all that. I assure you, she is one of the most open and accepting human beings I know, which is why she is so good at her job.

I think the reason that people often refer back to "good Christian values" is because, in reality, they are the values held by the Puritans who founded this country. And our government, when it was being constructed, used the moral ideals of its architects as a basis for its design.

It's frustrating when we realize that the old models and ideals are no longer relevant, and we see injustice happening around us to people we love and people to whom our hearts go out. But try to focus on all the goodness and change we've created so far in the relatively short time our country has even existed. Imagine how much we've accomplished and in just the last century alone.

Be the change you want to see in the world around you, and the world will eventually change with you. It takes time, but it will happen. I have the utmost faith.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Just to take a tangent off the first line and leave the rest for tomorrow, THE WORDS OF WENDY WASSERSTEIN got a GREAT review in today's RTD:

Only one performance left! Today at 2PM at the Firehouse.

Dave T said...

"Try to focus on all the goodness and change we've created so far in the relatively short time our country has even existed."

Nice sentiments, Eso. I appreciate your outlook. You give me hope!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
Why isn't Altar Boyz listed in your left hand column of NOW SHOWING?

'Rick Gray said...

With all due respect, isn't there a certain incongruity between your insistence that the gay rights issue is "about... privacy and humanity and acceptance" and then condemning Ted (not Larry) Haggard for not "admitting his homosexuality"?

After all, the man has been through some heavy counseling and reached the conclusion that he is happiest in with his wife and children.

It's a 19th century idea that people must be either "gay" or "straight". Perhaps some people are so on-the-fence that they really have an option.

At any rate, isn't Mr. Haggard entitled to define his own sexuality without our horning in. He's acknowledged a same-sex relationship, but who are we to decide what that signifies?

I would normally have let your comments pass, but I've recently had to wrestle with portraying a character of uncertain sexual orientation and the research has gotten me thinking that modern political conflicts have tended to make us all a bit simplistic about this matter of sexual identity.

JKD said...

Little Dog Laughed was not a part of "Acts of Faith"... but we did get some dialogue out of it for sure. "Doubt" was the Barksdale's official entry. "Visiting Mr. Green" at RTP was the topical Gay vs. Religion (in that case it was Judaism) entry of 2008.



Dave T said...

'Rick, I think I see your point and I appreciate you putting your thoughts out. Just to be clear, I'm not saying that Haggard has to be "gay" or "straight." I completely accept that there is a continuum that goes from totally homo to totally hetero. My problem with Haggard is that he refuses to place himself on the continuum because it would involve admitting that homosexuality is normal. His "hetero with homo urges" or whatever the hell he calls it is another way of saying I have these BAD urges that I can expunge from my psyche if I just pray real hard, which is crazy whacky bullshit and is the kind of attitude that makes confused gay Christians everywhere deny their sexuality.

Haggard's "hetero with homo urges" is like me saying I'm a vegetarian that eats meat. You can't have it both ways. If he is happy with his wife, bully for both of them. But with his sexual history and ongoing homosexual thoughts, he's gay or he's bi, or he's bi who identifing as hetero, or something. But essentially guys like Haggard are just putting a new face on an old lie, which is that homosexuality is a "lifestyle," not a perfectly fine sexual orientation.

As far your statement that "isn't Mr. Haggard entitled to define his own sexuality without our horning in. He's acknowledged a same-sex relationship, but who are we to decide what that signifies?" First, he's going on national television (and has some documentary special or something coming out as well) in which he talks about his life since being outed, so I'm not really horning in. Second, if you are going to put yourself out there and talk about your sexuality, I think it is damaging at worst and misleading at best to perpetuate bad science, bad sociology, and/or bad identity politics by saying the stuff Haggard says. And lastly, as far as I know, the only homosexual relationships he's acknowledged have been the secretive shameful kind. If he would admit to having a healthy, long-term loving relationship with another man -- the kind that millions of gay men all over the world have and should be proud of -- then I'd stand and applaud his honesty and forthrightness.

Dave T said...

Oh, and sorry about the Now Showing links and navigation. I need to update it, have needed to for a while now, will get to it as soon as my itch to edit HTML gets so strong I have to scratch it.