There are an enormous number of people—and I am one of them—whose native religion, for better or worse, is Christianity. We were born to it; we began to learn about it before we became conscious; it is, whatever we think of it, an intimate belonging of our being; it informs our consciousness, our language, our dreams. ~ Wendell Berry
Like most gay people, I grew up in a heterosexual family and in a heterosexually-oriented society. I learned the same lessons that most Americans in my generation (late baby boomers) learned about homosexuality -- that it’s a sin, or a sickness, something to be ashamed of, something to hide. I learned those lessons way before I had enough consciousness to reject them. This learning process, where GLBT people learn to hate themselves, is sometimes called “internalized homophobia.”
I also grew up attending a mainstream Protestant church. Again, I learned about God and Jesus well before I had enough capacity to question the things I was learning. Even though I rejected Christianity as a young adult, it’s the faith of my childhood. Just as when I lived in an adobe house in New Mexico I continued to dream about New England colonial buildings with attics and basements, my psyche is still full of the language and the mythical templates of Christianity. I am and will always be a cultural Christian, whatever I think about its validity as a religion.
|Background, made from one block, five applications of color.|
I have no idea if this print (or any of the prints I create in the next few months) will actually make it into the book I'm planning, but this print is where I have to start. It's an ugly print, based on an incredibly ugly video that went viral this past spring, where a young child who can’t be more than 5 years old is coached to sing a song with the refrain “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.” I hate this image, but it perfectly encapsulates the struggle with internalized homophobia that I’ve experienced in my life. And it also represents pretty perfectly the fact that the loudest voices against homosexuality in America for the past few decades have been the voices of the most passionate followers of Jesus.
Here’s the video, from a church in Indiana. Brace yourself...