The sublime Ex-Gay Watch features a brilliant posting by Timothy Kincaid that tidily encapsulates my oft-hurled message to anti-queer fundamentalists. (For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll call these conservative Christians who oppose legal equality for gays and lesbians “fundies.”)
The story Kincaid addresses is about the Soulforce Equality Riders, a student offshoot of the nonviolent direct-action group. The Riders visit gay-unfriendly college campuses to spread a message of tolerance towardl GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender ) students. In March, the Riders visited Lee University in Cleveland, TN, where someone defaced the Soulforce bus with the words “fags mobile.” The activists weren’t left on their own after the incident; a number of thoughtful Lee students pitched in to help the Riders clean their vehicle. Turns out Mike Ensley of ex-gay ministry network Exodus International claims he was responsible for the fundie kids helping with the graffiti removal, something Ensley characterizes as proof that anti-GLBT hate doesn’t come from Exodus and its supporters.
OK, I’ll concede that helping the Equality Riders clean their bus was a righteous mitzvah. Good for them for helping out their fellow humans in a time of need. And I’ll even say thanks, because the helpful students earned it.
As Kincaid explains in his published comments to Ensley, busting suds for queers doesn’t mitigate all the other ways in which followers of the Religious Wrong spread the hate.
Mike, let me give you a timeline for when I’ll realize that hate doesn’t come from you: When you stop spreading malicious lies such as all gay people were molested or had a poor relationship with their same-sex parent, that gay people do not have committed monogamous loving long-term relationships, and the myriad myths you propagate about the sex lives and “health risks” of all gay people. When you stop seeking to enact laws that would deny rights to gay couples that are taken for granted by straight couples, take away gay people’s children, and – in some states – incarcerate gay people for expressing their love to their partner sexually. And finally, Mike, when you stop lying to gay people about the methods, reach, failure rates, and agenda of the Exodus International. Once you’ve done that, Mike, get right back to us and we’ll let you know whether you’ve convinced us that hate doesn’t come from you. In the meanwhile, you’ll understand why I think that your “love the sinner, but destroy his life at every opportunity in every way” type of message is more likely to result in vandalism than in clean-up.
Bingo, and bravo! Listen up, fundies and “change” proponents, and I sa this with love: This message is not for Mike Ensley alone. And though it comes from Timothy Kincaid, it goes double for me: If what you do is love, keep it. You may not call what you do to your GLBT brothers and sisters “hate,” but trust me, its effects are the same as those caused by what most would consider love’s antithesis. And God knows, it feels like hate.