Month: February 2010

Time to let it go

I’m officially over the heavy stuff. Time to move on and get back to why I started this blog – to have fun. So I’m married to a man. Um, I mean marrying…. (oops)… so be it. If you don’t like it then, oh well.

Time to get back to fabulouuuuuuuuusness and talking about all things gay like feathers and ABBA and the Queen and marriage.

I hear you sigh in relief!

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God hates you

I received a comment from someone (as I do) in response to the Ecclesia de Lange story that I had posted. I haven’t blogged about the outcome to her appeal and my response to it because, to be honest, I was quite emotional about it. I didn’t want to have an emotional or angry response – I always try to be guarded in what I put in writing but her expulsion from the Methodist ministry is very sad.

Don’t get me wrong. I know she broke the rules by marrying her partner. I know that breaking the rules has consequences. I suppose my sadness is that the response spoke volumes about the Church’s tolerance of gays. That’s what it is – tolerance.

I have therefore made personal decisions about my way forward and how I will deal with my own personal battle to reconcile being a man in love with a man and someone who wants to be actively involved in the church. Those I’m sure I will share when I feel less angry.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyyywaaaayyyy…

Getting back to the comment. It was a usual “God hates gays and all of us deviants must kneel before the cross of Christ or spend eternity in hell”. What I do find amazing about these comments is that they are left anonymously. If you’re going to tell me how to live my life and assume your scriptural right to do so at least leave a name and address where we can continue the dialogue. If you don’t want dialogue then please don’t post anything here. I have said before and I will say again – you are more than welcome to your opinions on this platform, as am I. Let’s just be mature about it.

My response to this kind of comment which is so filled with God’s hate is by quoting the words of Wesley – “your god is my devil”.

But the following comment really did blow me away and I want more people to read it. It’s written by an atheist. And that in itself is astonishing. And it’s also written by a man I love very deeply. Here was his response to this person (I have edited it slightly):

I know very many christians who love god. Who are certain that god loves them. They thrive on this love they believe they receive.

They allow themselves to give and receive love in human interactions as a spouse, parent, child, friend, neighbour and sometimes a stranger. They regularly give thanks to god that they can.

They read their scriptures and listen to the sermons of their fellow man, reminding them that god is love. That Jesus died on the cross for all mankind to turn to god and feel his warm embrace and the promise of an eternal happiness, basking in the glow of his love.

They pray, sometimes fervently, to be able to forgive as he taught when they are hurt by others who hate… lest they be on the receiving end of the first stone cast.

I’m sure you never meant to cast any doubt on the love god has for them by your comments.

If I were a man craving to live and love as god taught, I might be in a serious spot of bother. This is because, dear Anonymous, your comment speaks only of hatred. A god who is so angry with his creation, he has no room left for love.

For those touched by god’s love and grace, who walk beside the sick, poor and dying, touching lives with his love – where do they find it? Which god is giving them this love? Are they deceived by satan into being good? It is sad to see one so seemingly strong in faith propelled by hate.

What you say makes me wonder about the god you speak of – one so angry he has no place for love. Where there is no place for love, we are left with hate. A hate so deep and overpowering it will ultimately consume and destroy. Is satan’s work not to breed hate? Is satan’s work not to let pride and prejudice fester in a mans soul and fill him with hate which will most certainly lead to hate for his fellow man? Does that hatred not lead man away from the god he seeks to love?

Why not leave the judging to where it is presumably made, at the foot of gods throne, and get on with being a better person, dealing with real people, living real lives, making real impacts to those around them, with love and compassion.

To all haters of people that are different – through nothing more than a single differentiating feature – ponder what you might say if one day, that which drives your hatred stares you in the face as the face of god and you are left with with no escape from your deep remorse at doing Satan’s bidding for hatred. Fear that.

Why shouldn’t life be like a musical?

I had a conversation with a friend Simon a few years ago on Facebook. Now we chatted often and that particular day I had told him I was feeling a bit low. He responded by reminding me that we should always try live our lives as if we were in a musical… This is the conversation that ensued (and which he very cleverly found and published on his blog).

This is how it went:

Simon see? life should be a musical. then everything ALWAYS has a happy ending 🙂

Rambler except Carousel

Simon oh so there’s an exception or two…

Rambler yep… you seen Carousel… her husband kills himself in the end and then they all sing”You’ll never Walk Alone”… Lovely stuff
Can you tell I’m still in my pit of depression?

Simon hmmmm… and in Moulin Rouge Nicole Kidman dies too…
Ok so maybe musicals wasn’t such a great theme…

Rambler Yes.. she dies while he sings “Come What May”
And in Grease Sandy starts smoking at the end so she’ll probably die too…

Simon And in the Sound of Music they still have to leave their home and move to Switzerland which is a really expensive country and they have no income because Captain von Trapp lost his job and Maria doesn’t exactly have much work experience. So they will be homeless…

Rambler Exactly… so they’ll probably die…
And Evita dies…

Yes, Simon… why can’t life be a musical?

Simon In Jesus Christ Superstar he was crucified!
OMG what have I done?

Rambler
yes… he died too… but apparently he came back to life … like the girl in Rent… so maybe all is not lost…

Simon ok so maybe musicals aren’t a good analogy for life.
let me think up another tactic… that one failed miserably.

Rambler It was fun!

Simon just to point out… Christine and Raul still hooked up at the end of Phantom, so they were happy, and Joseph’s whole family got to move to Egypt and eat as much as they wanted during the 7 years of famine… so they were happy too…

Rambler Yah, but she hooked up with a dude witha deformed face and with the way he sings he’s probably gay… and lets not forget that Joseph’s family first starved and the dad thought Joseph was dead. So he was depressed and malnourished. Eating probably made him die sooner… and Joseph wore make-up after meeting the Egyptians. Fag.

Simon so there is nothing wrong with a couple of homos… musicals were designed around us. Joseph looked much hotter with make-up btw… Joseph’s family had a bad run but still had a happy ending. At least his dad died with a full tummy and was happy knowing his son was alive.

There is no way Phantom was gay. He would …never have looked like that if he was. He would have turned to plastic surgery sooner and wouldn’t wear black all the time.

Ecclesia part three

This address was given by the Reverend Professor Peter Storey at the Cape Town solidarity service held while Ecclesia’s appeal was heard. For those of you who have not followed her story I have two posts – here and here

It’s a long read but well worth reading… it left me deeply moved.

‘THERE COMES A TIME’
Address at a Service of Solidarity to mark the Trial of Rev. Ecclesia de Lange
by
Rev Prof Peter Storey DD.LLD.DHL
Rosebank Methodist Church, 8 February, 2010

There comes a time. It’s as simple as that.

1.
There comes a time when a new mind settles over the human family, when almost imperceptibly, people begin to think a new and different thought, making the old thought no longer thinkable and the world a kinder place to live in. One of our hymns – used often in the apartheid days – reminds us that to every person and nation- to all of us -there comes a ‘moment to decide.’ One of its lines is particularly apposite today:

‘New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
they must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.’1

Jesus brought a new mind to our world. It included a radical hospitality of the heart that threatened a host of ancient shibboleths. Broken and needy people heard him gladly but his wide open love was resented by the religious of his day; for them it was more important to be right than to be good. They didn’t understand that being good becomes the ultimate right. His love was too big for them – too big for any of us. Even the way he was killed nailed his arms forever in wide embrace. After his Resurrection, his first Jewish followers struggled with the breadth of his welcome; his Holy Spirit had a relentless hospitality that left them punch-drunk. He seemed to want to include everyone. The Acts of the Apostles became the story of one barrier after another tumbling before this relentless hospitality.

The Holy Spirit is God’s promise to haunt us, to confront every prejudice of the devout, no matter how respectable or how carefully wrapped in dogma. Time and again since, the Spirit has taken the Church, sometimes gently, more often by the scruff of the neck, and shown us that what was once revered as an ancient good has become uncouth and untenable. The Spirit still has lessons to teach and we have lessons to learn. When we have listened, the Spirit has used the Church to be the conscience of the world – as some churches were used in the dark apartheid years – but when we have been obdurate and blind, then God has used the world to be the conscience of the Church. Right now is one of those times because, when it comes to how we treat people of different sexual orientations, the Constitution of South Africa seems to be more in tune with the mind of Christ than the attitudes of the Methodist Church.

So, let me say now that there will come a time when the Methodist Church of Southern Africa will declare its ministry open to persons in faithful same-sex relationship. It will honour and bless their love with the same blessing given to all marriages everywhere. That is as certain as day follows night. When this will happen, we do not know, but when it does, it will not be primarily because of Constitutions or grand declarations; it will be because of the courage and faithfulness of people like Rev.Ecclesia de Lange and her spouse Amanda. Alan Walker says, ‘Always advance comes by a man here, a woman there, being faithful in a particular situation to a great truth.’ Ecclesia, your simple words of witness have moved us deeply. You have said:

‘I desire to serve Jesus. I desire to be true to myself. I desire to minister within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa with integrity and to be faithful to God’s call on my life …’

What could be more simple, or more honourable? But we know strong forces resist this simple answer to God’s call. You have also said:

‘I have reached the point where I can no longer be silent. I have come to see that it is better to be rejected for who I am than to be accepted for who I am not …’

I wonder if you know how close those words are to the words of Anne Hutchinson, put on trial by the 17th Century Puritans of New England for being a Quaker. As she exited the church where the trial was held, she said: ‘Better to be cast out of the church than to deny Christ’

Which is why … there comes a time …

The Holy Spirit has waited long enough. It is time for the Church to recognize, repudiate and reject what William Sloane Coffin calls its ‘last respectable prejudice’2 – homophobia. If that is too much to digest all at once, then the time has come for at least a full place at the table for people with a new and different mind. As a well-wisher wrote to Ecclesia, ‘Gay ministers are not going to go away and more of us will want to be married3.’ So today we are here to say to those who differ from us, ‘Hold your views if you must, but we are not prepared to see one more person – this person – sacrificed on the altar of wrongful exclusion.’

2.
Before going further, because this gathering is not just about opinions, but about real people who have been – are being – sacrificed, we must make confession:

Some years back I was speaking at a conference on inclusiveness in a church in Lancing, Michigan. The day was enriched by a magnificent choir – the Lancing Gay Men’s Choir. As he introduced their first item, the Choir Director said that he had had to work very hard to persuade most of his singers to agree to perform in a church. Too many of them had been hurt by the churches they had grown up in. He then apologized for being late. At the last minute, he said, when it came to actually passing through the church doors, two or three of his choir had simply frozen. They couldn’t take that step. The trauma of what they had suffered at the hands of the church was just too much. ‘So, we’re short of a few voices today,’ he said. ‘We apologise.’

But it is we, the church, who must apologise. This apology must be a wide one, embracing every person who has been hurt, rejected, excluded and wounded by the Christian Church because of his or her sexual orientation. It must be deep, reaching down into centuries of wrong. The church’s long compromise with slavery, our blind acceptance of racism, our stubborn exclusion of women from leadership and ordination – these are sins from which we have had to be delivered, but John Cobb would remind us that in this particular, we may have done worse: whereas in most forms of suppression the church has given at least some support to the oppressed, in the case of homosexual persons, the church has been the leader in the oppression4. I confess this sin on behalf of my church – the Methodist Church of Southern Africa today. We stand in need of forgiveness – from our God and from those we have hurt.

Ecclesia and Amanda, I see your action, which has brought us together today, as a gift: it is an opportunity for the Church I love and serve to right a great wrong.

3.
Sadly … though I pray it will do so, I fear it may not. There are many reasons for this, but I want to lift up just one. It takes clear vision and great courage to recognize and reverse a centuries-old, deeply rooted prejudice. It takes an even greater leap of bravery and conviction to repudiate what has been given to us as sacred teaching and to declare that, ‘time has made that teaching uncouth. We need to move on from it.’

I recall the electric moment at the Rustenburg Conference of 1990 when Prof. Jonker of Stellenbosch Kweekskool, made his historic apology on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Churches for their collaboration with the wrongs of apartheid. We knew that his courageous turn-around would bring difficulties for his church, but we had no idea how great. The backlash was ferocious, and one of the most common protests was from devout Dutch Reformed members who accused their leaders of betrayal : ‘You are the ones who taught us that apartheid was Biblical, moral and Christian. How dare you suddenly change your minds, making sinners of us all?’ You will recall that Prof. Johann Heyns, who shared with us in the writing of the Rustenburg Declaration, was assassinated soon after. If some of us are tempted to denigrate those who cannot agree with us, we need to pause and remember how hard it is to abandon a life-long prejudice, especially when you’ve been told that God shares that prejudice too. And lest any of us ‘straight’ supporters here be tempted to self-rightousness in our critique of more conservative Christians, perhaps we ought to recall that most of us held similar views once, and our journey to greater openness doesn’t makes theirs any easier.

I hope that we will stay in conversation with those who differ from us. Past experience tells us that a way forward may be found – together. Remember those words from another time and another struggle, written by black and white Methodists after Obedience ’81?

‘We have experienced how hard it is to abandon long-held prejudice and long-felt bitterness. But we have seen God work this miracle in us. It happened because we continued to search for each other even at our time of deepest division and despair.’5

4.
So, there is hope, but hope is not enough: there is also urgency, because … there comes a time.

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has acknowledged that we are divided between two opinions. That is true. The difference can’t be papered over:
Those who defend the closed door cannot open it without believing they betray Scripture.
Those who have opened the door cannot close it without believing we betray Jesus, the Lord of Scripture.

Our minds are unlikely to meet soon and the Methodist Conference has therefore invited us to ‘journey together’ in a way that ‘both respects and holds in tension differing views among our ministers and people.’6 Well and good, but if this journey is to have integrity there is one important condition: the same rules must apply to both travellers on the road. Our Church cannot claim to respect our views, and then punish those who, like Ecclesia, live out those views in practice. Holding the conversation open must not be another way to keep the doors of Christian marriage and Ordination for married gay people slammed shut.

Because there comes a time …

Let me say this very directly to our friends who differ from us: we will be patient in debate but no longer in suffering. You must understand that your opinion has real-life consequences for colleagues who we have come to love and honour. The pain and rejection they suffer is inflicted by the opinion you defend. Hold onto it if you will, but we cannot let you hurt people anymore. ‘‘There comes a time,’ said Martin Luther King Jr., when the cup of endurance runs over.’7

To our bishops and spiritual leaders, let me say this: Your task is not easy: in this matter you preside over a divided church. In the days of apartheid our leaders faced similar divisions, but while they wrestled with difficult debates, they were crystal clear about what was right and what was wrong – that the most damnable thing about apartheid was that it hurt people for something they could never change – the color of their skins – and for that alone it stood condemned in the councils of God. That was the bottom line. The rest was detail.

Today, we long for you to lead. You do not have to wait for any Conference to say what is right and what is wrong. We long to hear you declare lovingly and firmly that our beloved church cannot and will not any longer reject gay people for something they have no power to change. Please lead us. Let no more Ecclesia’s suffer. It would be a glorious day if at this time, because of your lead, God’s Ecclesia, God’s called people, were able to spread wide our arms and our hearts before the Holy Spirit had to prize them open.

There comes a time … and the time is now.

Simon’s Town, February 2010.

Notes:
1. ‘Once to every man and nation,’ James Russell Lowell, MHB 1933, No 898.
2. William Sloane Coffin, Homophobia, the Last Respectable Prejudice, the 1997 Schooler Institute Lecture, Methodist Theological School in Ohio (unpublished).
3. E-mail from Rev.Suzanna Bates, British Methodist Church, 14 December, 2009
4. Ibid. Quoted by Coffin
5. The Charter of Obedience ’81, adopted by the most representative gathering of Methodists ever held in SA – Auckland Park, 1981
6. MCSA Yearbook 2008, p81, para 2.5.1
7. Martin Luther King Jr, Why We Can’t Wait, Signet Books, 1963/4, p.82

How good is your gaydar?

I’m a keen fan of the Graham Norton Show. He’s funny, irreverent and sharp as a tack. He’s also as camp as row of tents and his guests and audience always look they’re having a good gay ol’ time while he talks about nonsense.

The other night was especially fun. He had Joan Rivers on the show and a British actor whose name I’ve forgotten. They decided to test their “gaydar” on a bunch of audience members (and got it wrong mostly – damn emo’s).

Now I know that not everyone who reads this blog is acquainted with all things gay so I think it’s important to define a gaydar. Some know it as an internet site where you can meet other gay men for, ahem, bonding. But it’s roots go back further. You won’t find it in the Oxford English dictionary yet so I’ll attempt my own definition.

A gaydar (usually possessed by gay men and women fondly named “fag hags”) is a siren (distinguishable only to the person gifted with a gaydar) which yells loudly when a person who is homosexual enters their proximity. A gaydar could be so well evolved that a gay person can be spotted without even being seen (although we can not be sure if it’s gay men’s fondness for Aramis that gives them away).

Now I have a terrible gaydar. In order for me to realise that you are gay you have to be snogging another man or have plucked your eyebrows to a thin sliver to show off your new eyeliner. Mine just never evolved. Perhaps the only thing the ex-gay ministry got right.

A gay man without a gaydar is hugely disappointing and disadvantageous. In fact, some might say it’s a disability. I’ve probably missed out on so much…

So I thought I’d test your gaydar. Below are a few pics. Tell me which of these two is gay…

What’s in a name?

FJ and I went to Home Affairs to book our legal civil union (which will be on a different day to our ceremony with family and a few friends). I won’t give the day away, only a few know… because we want our ceremony day to be the one that gets celebrated even though I’ll be able to wear a ring on my wedding finger from a different day.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnyyyyyyyyyyywaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy

The Home Affairs booking was interesting, and I suspect the legal ceremony will be one of those moments where I’ll be struggling not to laugh.

Let’s face it – their offices are foul. There’s no other word to describe it. Dingy, smelly, heartless and as depressing as a Sylvia Plath poem. As soon as I left I felt the need for a good shower with a product that had something cleansing like hydrochloric acid in it. FJ asked what we should wear for the Home Affairs union and I’m not sure he took me seriously when I suggested overalls.

The lady who took the booking, though, was great and seemed to really enjoy booking the boys for their nuptials. We managed to see the lady who will do the legalities and she was frightening (she’s the financial lady at Home Affairs and apparently loves marrying the gays – they’re a lot more fun than “normal people – we’ve been told). She was very disappointed that FJ and I were retaining our own surnames (I didn’t even know we could change names because of the union). FJ and I have discussed it. We would rather create a mutual name than take one of our own so one idea was that we combine our surnames in some way. Now I won’t mention our surnames on here (for FJ’s sake) but the only real combination of our names that works is so gay-sounding that when you say it you have to say the last syllable in a higher pitch than the rest and snap your fingers in front of you as you say it. *A spin is optional.

You see, the winning combination would make me:

Clive van der Cher *snaps fingers while saying last syllable in a higher pitch*

Now I can’t possibly expect FJ to walk up to his farming fraternity and say: “Hi there, I’m FJ van der Cher” while squeaking the last syllable and clicking his fingers in the air. For those of you who have met him, you’ll know how ludicrous this sounds.

So we’ll stick with our own names. But the reality is – we’ll be married.

Li’l ol’ me… married….

Who would’ve thought?