Random Thoughts On Humanness: Hump Day

July 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings) (, , , )

So, it is Wednesday again. And, there have been some things to ponder in the goings on of late. For example, Scin and I both have strong feelings about finding a place of worship with which we are comfortable and in which we can be ourselves…appropriately, of course. So, we tried a local church when she and her son were down in February and we went back again once we got her basically moved into the new house.

Now, this place [nameless as we don’t know who reads me…] describes itself as open and affirming. And, indeed, they are that. However, our experiences with them have raised within me the following question: is there a point at which acceptance becomes a form of discrimination? And, then, if there is a place in interactive exchange where acceptance becomes a brand of discrimination, where is that point; what defines that line in the sand of interaction? I should, perhaps, explain.

The church has a clear open and affirming stance and everyone is highly supportive of that. They reach out almost aggressively–which, itself, is uncomfortable. We were showered with acceptance. We were invited here and there and met with introductions to the point of feeling as if we were the long-lost survivors of a ship wreck, suddenly rescued and were being seen in public for the first time. I began to feel like an oddity. This feeling was increased by the fact that they are so affirming that there is a LGBT group within the church that holds social events that are also meetings for planning this, that and the other thing. In addition, time is set aside for “studying” what it is to be same-sex oriented, how that relates to being a child of God, and/or how it impacts our lives to be Gay or Lesbian. Topics and the gatherings themselves are all about being queer. This would not be so bad except that these events are essentially segregated from other church events. It is very much as if we and the acceptance of our ilk represent some kind of project. It is as if we are special in some odd way that is not so good. I was waiting for them to start passing out special hats and ID bracelets. Add to this the almost boundaryless way of greeting and inviting you in and it begins to feel very strange.

Scin and I gave it our best effort at church and at the LGBT cook out thingy. And, we even went to the minor league baseball game with the group. However, we came away from all these events feeling uncomfortable. We talked about feeling like a project. We talked about the almost needy and desperate lack of boundaries these people displayed as they reached out to bring us into the fold. We discussed being recruited, how it feels like they are trying to beef up the congregate and reaching out to the queers might be a good way to keep the doors open. We talked about not wanting everything to be about being gay. We talked about how what we want is to be seen as fellow humans, as people who just happen to be lesbians. We processed feeling like we are special and not in a good way when everything is about our sexual orientation. All of this set me thinking about layers of discrimination. And, it set me thinking about the possibility that we were not the only ones being sold short or minimized by that level of so-called acceptance.

I wonder. Do we not minimize and distort the range of human diversity and individuality as well when we single out a group with such acceptance that we segregate them from the greater community? Is not that level of acceptance as harmful as identifying that group as somehow wrong or unnatural or evil…or otherwise less than others? And, do we not harm any hope of true human equality if we elevate the minority at the segregation of the majority? If any group accepts us by focusing on and agrandizing our sexual orientation, does that not minimize our overall human commonalities and individuality as people? My gut feeling is that the answer to all of these question is a resounding “yes.”

I may be wrong-headed here, but I believe that there is a point where claiming acceptance of a group only serves to further separate them from the “family of things” [as Mary Oliver would say]. I cannot speak for others, but I can say what I have strived for and desire as a person of same-sex orientation. What I want is to be seen as a fellow human being on the path of being an actualized human being and doing so in the greater community of other human beings. My sexuality is not the only aspect of who I am; it does not define me any more than having green eyes or being right-handed defines me. It is a biological fact of my personhood the same way as those other aspects of self. It is not all that I am. To single out that aspect of my existence is to lessen all the others. It also, sadly, lessens my heterosexual fellow humans; it reduces them to being merely heterosexuals as I am reduced to being a lesbian. This a natural outcome, however, of the human tendency to focus on differences rather than commonalities.

It is, actually, part of our biological preparedness for survival to discriminate, to distinguish differences, and to notice when things are possibly amiss. Biologically speaking, it is part of the hard-wired visual, olfactory and auditory survival instincts we were given to identify things in the environment such as resources and threats. It is also a facet of the serotonergically linked process of herding. It is a necessary set of abilities. However, as we have evolved as a species, the need for this ability has changed. Intellectually, and psychologically, we have been slow to adapt to the changes. We do not discriminate between safe nuts and berries anymore; we discriminate between types of people.

For me, the task of equality for all humans is about creating opportunities for all of us to learn more about the process of being human, of becoming people, and all the many ways that is, always, both a universal and individual process. And, how wonderful that is. There is more in our experiences as humans learning to be people that is common, and bonds us as such, than there is difference. How truly miraculous it would be if we could advance ourselves a little bit toward recognition of this.  I do not want to be seen as special in some way that ultimately makes me feel freakish. I would like to be part of a community of people who see me as they would see themselves, not as a person who is lesbian. I would like to be seen as a person with many facets, qualities, strengths and limitations, gifts and likes and dislikes. Is that not what it is to be a child of God? I don’t know. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Regardless, these are the things I have been thinking about. Maybe I have more questions than I do answers. So, next Sunday, we will go some place different. I know the right place is out there and I feel sure we will find it. At the very least, we know what we don’t want and that is half the discernment process. We are looking for common ground, not special ground. 

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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4 Comments

  1. Blazer said,

    The over enthusiastic welcome sounds like the same reception you get when you walk into a car dealership. A little too much a little too soon. It does seem like the congregation’s collective hearts are in the right place but perhaps a little misguided. There is a huge difference between tolerance and true acceptance and it would seem that the church is in the process of moving forward to acceptance, albeit awkwardly.

    It seems to me that it is possible that you and Scin have spent a great deal of time exploring your faith and reconciling it with your sexual/gender orientations. It may be that you have just grown beyond what others still need. It would be interesting (in a social experiment sort of way) to see if a couple like you and Scin could bring about a more integrated fellowship in a church that seems to have the best of intentions.

    I however do understand that as we get older (and let’s admit it, we are both getting there) it feels like it is time for the young folk to take the lead on the social change front. I wish you luck in finding the church that fits what you both need.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Once again, friend of mine, your ability to get at the heart of a matter is a gift. I agree. We have grown beyond what others need–likely not only in this regard. And, I do believe that overall the collective hearts are, indeed, in the right place. I also feel that the used car lot feeling does come from a place of some kind of recruitment desperation–even in the midst of some degree of right intention. I think the church has stagnated in some way and they are trying almost too hard to crank up a growth phase. I suspect that this, too, will pass and they will find their way.
      I also think that the kind of acceptance-discrimination phase they are in is common when collectives of people begin to move toward acceptance of any group of people previously seen as “other.” It is, I think, I normative part of the process. Yet, it is also one we have outgrown–if only because we are, indeed, older and have worked out for ourselves how we see our places in the world at large. And, if only because of where we have grown to be at this place in our lives, I think it would be likely that we could have a positive affect on that environment. However, as you said, maybe it is a circumstance where the younger folks need to take the lead. Maybe not. Time will tell. And, more will be revealed as the spirit leads us…as the saying goes.
      Thanks, as usual, for your insight and willingness to share.

  2. Scintillectual said,

    I love Blazer’s take on this. I DO think that we have perhaps grown beyond what others still need. I don’t WANT to be “special.” I want a place where I am seen as a valued, contributing member of my church, not another number in a statistic to be touted by the “open and affirming.” While I don’t wish to attend a church that is so conservative that we feel uncomfortable just walking through the door, neither do I want to be dragged into huge hugs with strangers simply because I’m a lesbian. Finding a spiritual home is a highly personal thing for me and not one I take lightly. I think that shopping around and taking our time to find the absolutely right place for us is the best way to get what we need in the long run.

    • androgynonamous said,

      I am in agreement with you. I find it interesting that our subculture here seems to assume that because we are all sharing a sexual orientation, we will also share common likes, dislikes, interests, etc. and all be fast and close friends–as if we are all somehow joined in some way because of the way we love. It is kind of like the way some people in the general public assume we all know each other just because we are gay. And, there is certainly more to my spirituality than joining a social club. I know from experience in other arenas that, spiritually at least, I have grown beyond many of my peers in regard to the maturity and nature of my faith, theology and needs for that particular tribe. I feel sure Blazer is right about our needs as a couple with spiritual concerns. And, as we have discussed, I believe shopping around is the correct course–and, clearly, the only immediate choice we have. I’d rather shop than settle.

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