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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
blt BS: major religions and homophobia (116* d) RE: BS: major religions and homophobia 19 Feb 01

Being a lesbian, this thread hits very close to home. I have to say that after living in several states that have actively pursued anti-gay legislation and being involved in many discussions with homophobic individuals, there is no blueprint for homophobes, just as there is none for heterosexuals or homosexuals. To be very trite, people are simply people.

I've never felt that gay men are more vulnerable than lesbians to homophobic violence; in a very harsh way, I believe that male issues simply receive more attention so that lesbians are rendered invisible. Certainly I've always been aware of the potential for violence, have had my share of being called nasty names in public, been assaulted physically, been fired from jobs, been denied housing, all because of my "sexual orientation." Most in the lesbian community have had similar experiences but few of these reach the media.

I believe that religions that are patriarchal, in particular Christianity, Islam and Judaism, or cultures that are strongly patriarchal, have foundational roots that demand that women be submissive to men. Ignoring the rules around gender translates either into challenging God the Father or dogmas that deify male power. Either way, lesbians and gay men, as well as bisexuals and transgendered men and women are blamed for "breaking the rules." It is much easier to blame than to change, especially when change is viewed as completely unnecessary or threatening. I believe the core issues have to do with the fear of sexuality, a topic that conservative Christians in general struggle with terribly. This creates many contradictions, the obvious being that the progress of blood borne disease such as HIV or Hepititis , not to mention STD's, is epidemic largely due to cultural taboos about talking about sex and sexuality. This is a sad state of affairs, when culturally we are more comfortable discussing how to more effectively blow up our neighbor's house vs talking honestly about sex. I could go further and equate the fear of sex with a fear of the female body and thus a fear of life, creation, and the earth herself. It seems to be very difficult for dogmatic and frightened individuals to understand that lesbians and gays have always been present throughout history, and to grasp that human sexuality exists on a continuum. It's not that one is either-or, rather human beings have a broad range of sexual identity and expression, and these identities typically change over the life span. However, this implies a sort of impermanence that scares some people, it's like having the rug pulled out from under one's feet. And, the discomfort this creates tweaks people in the lesbian and gay communities just as much as in the straight world. There is something to be said for the security one assumes from having a sexual "identity"--crossing these lines is difficult and painful, whether it's the process of coming out or struggling with being in the closet.

I think this will change over time but slowly. There has been a tremendous shift over the last 50 years in how lesbians and gays are viewed. The violence that persists is characteristic of transitions. I also happen to believe that patriarchal religions are dying, and that some of the violence is related to these death throes. It is certainly an interesting time to be alive.


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