Saturday, May 8, 2010

Two Closets

If the name George Allen Rekers is unfamiliar to you, then you've probably been in a coma for one week or off hiking in the wilderness. Lucky you! In brief, Rekers is a closeted gay man who has spent the better part of his adult life bashing LGBTQ people. Pam's House Blend will fill you in on all the details. It seems that Rekers is now attempting to claim that he is not "a homosexual." How could he possibly hope to be able to get away with such a ludicrous claim in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

If Liberachi could publicly claim that he is not a homosexual and be believed, then why can’t George Rekers? Yes, that was many decades ago and society has evolved “somewhat.” However, people will always prefer a palatable lie to a challenging truth. The pathetic tragedy, both for George Rekers and for our society, is that some of the most homophobic people are repressed/self-loathing homosexuals. This tragedy is further compounded by the fact that even within the openly LGBTQ community there is yet another internal division.

In the movie “Milk”, the gay Opera elite of San Francisco have an exchange with Harvey Milk. They are displeased at his activism. They have been “accepted” and found a respectable niche in society and they do not want Milk’s brash activism upsetting the apple cart. I have found a huge rift within our community between “establishment” gays and activist LGBTQ folks. Just mention Lt. Dan Choi or Robin McGhee at a black tie fundraiser and wait for the flood of verbal vitriol that will follow.

You would think you were speaking with someone from NOM, NARTH, an evangelical or Republican. Nope, it is someone from our community. A “good little boy/girl” who, like Log Cabin Republicans believes that if you dress up, smile and ask very, very politely; then eventually you will be granted civil rights. I think that there exist two closets. The first closet in which many, like George Rekers, are trapped, and the second in which many LGBTQ people patiently wait for society to accept them. The Book of Revelation states: “So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” [Rev 3:16]

Malcolm X said, “No one ever gave anyone civil rights, you have to take them!” Yes, self-loathing homosexuals, like Rekers, do great harm to our community. However, organizations and individuals in our community, who are willing to barter away justice for respectability arguably do as much, or worse damage. Whose hypocrisy is more damaging? Repressed people, like Rekers, who lash out at their own kind are at least psychologically understandable. Those in the well-healed, black tie set who settle can make no such defense. They are either na├»ve, or opportunists.

Why is one closet so vehemently condemned by our community and the other so blindly overlooked? Perhaps it is because most of us have moved beyond the first poisonous stage of coming out, but less of us have moved beyond the second stage. Like the Log Cabin Republicans, many in our community desperately want acceptance from “Society” and they want that acceptance at any price. That price is the repeal of DADT--next year. The passage of ENDA--when it is more opportune. The repeal of DOMA--maybe in three or four years.


Dan said...

I laughed at the Rekers, but no I feel really sorry for the man. He's created his own little hell by not being able to accept himself.

Bear Me Out said...

I wonder how many of those who have garnered a measure of "acceptance" have also garnered a measure of wealth.

And, it's not unusual for some of an oppressed group to buy in to the game.

SisterKris said...

It's the same within the priesthood. If more priests would come out it could be a catalyst for great change and renewal for the Church. Unfortunately, though, prophets pay a high price, but they'll have many sisters standing with them to rally support.

Juston said...

Pointing out that bigoted, anti-gay political activism is often spearheaded by closeted self-loathing gays is one of the most important functions of our movement, Father Geoff. But, and I say this to you with the greatest respect -with no intention of derailing the direction of this thread- there is another which I think deserves the full weight of our efforts, and that is exposing and calling out the inherent hypocrisy of white gays cooperating with the Republican political agenda while using 'Conservative principles' as a rationalizing justification.

The platform of the GOP involves a simple mental arithmetic which I refer to as The Conservative Equation:

Conservatism=White Exceptionalism

Conservatism=Male Exceptionalism

Conservatism=Straight Exceptionalism=Supremacy

To summarize:

Conservatism=White Straight Male Exceptionalism=Supremacy

*Metathesiophobia means a phobic fear of change.

I believe it is more than important to drive a wedge between conservative ideology and gays, Independents and Libertarians. It is essential. There are simply too many of them voting for a GOP that is in many respects malevolent in their political intentions towards our community.

Until the above mentioned realize that acquiescence on social justice for the promotion of conservative ideals is deeply immoral, there will be no ejecting of social injustices from GOP party platforms and therefore from our civil codes.

Sebastian said...

The gay movement needs to coin an acceptable term that is our equivalent of "Uncle Tom" and "step 'n fetch it - the derisive terms once used for blacks who had accepted too well the white definition of them.

As for SisterKris' point, as a priest I have to say that there is coming out and there is coming out. I don't think the place to come out for most of us is in front of our parishes. The better place for most of us is to press our issues forthrightly with bishops and provincials. This is quieter, behind the scenes work. But it is essential. It helps to build pressure against those superiors from making dumb and ill-informed decisions and saying stupid things. When a bishop knows he will get letters from 30 pastors if he says thus and so, he will think hard about it. If he sees 20 priests names in the newspaper, he will believe that his hand has been forced and heads will roll.

FDeF said...

I've always believed that no matter how we "conform" (and in some respects same-gender marriage is a capitulation to "respectability") we will ultimately be despised, misunderstood, or at best "tolerated" by the majority. Mainstreaming has pre-empted the Gay Liberation experiment too soon, I'm afraid. I prefer to be "in their faces" when necessary.

David da Silva Cornell said...

"I have found a huge rift within our community between “establishment” gays and activist LGBTQ folks. Just mention Lt. Dan Choi or Robin McGhee at a black tie fundraiser and wait for the flood of verbal vitriol that will follow."

Well, but that's not true across the board. Sure, there are lots of folks like that, but many others of us see both the legacy organizations and the new grassroots campaigns as necessary, and as complementary efforts.

headbang8 said...

Ah, Father Geoff. I think you'll find his name is spelled "Liberace".

Of course, you'd know that if you were an "establishment" gay, right?


Father Geoff said...

Dear Headbanger8,

What can I say? I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in the Mid-west. I'm dating myself, but when I was a kid I knew him as Liberachi. Just to make sure; however, I did google the name and found both Liberace and Liberachi associated with the late pianist.

Father Geoff said...

Dear David,

True, there is always the proverbial exception that proves the rule. My experience of LGBTQ organizations has been the two groups I described in the post.

Beyond that the expression "herding cats" and "six divas fighting for the limelight" also comes to mind.

Joe said...

Fr. Geoff,

This post reminds me of the quote by Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." I get angry with gays who have castigated GetEqual's protest at the fundraising event for Senator Boxer. Unlike HRC, they are pressing Obama for swift action on repealing DADT. You could see from his face the contempt Obama had for them. To show he holds grudges, soon afterwards Obama had his Sec'y Gates write a letter to a senator directing him not to push for repeal of DADT.

I'm frustrated & feel powerless. Writing to your senator/representative doesn't seem to work. And the LGBT community is so apathetic about our issues.

Joe said...

@ Sebastian - The bishops have run roughshod when it has come to gay issues precisely b/c the hypocrisy of the matter - that they're are a substantial percentage/number of gay priests - isn't made public. I think a majority of straight lay people would change their attitudes re: gay people if they knew their parish priest was gay.

And, not to sound too brown-nosy, but what Fr. Geoff did by coming out & speaking out against Prop 8 gave me as a gay man more hope than anything that has come out of the Church. If he'd taken your advice & only come out to his bishop, he wouldn't have had the immense positive affect on me & others that he has.

Joe said...

@FDeF - I think there's a difference b/t "conforming/becoming mainstream" vs. not getting into people's faces. Re: the former, it seems like whenever I hear gay people use those terms, it's usually in context of opposing same-sex marriage & promoting open relationships. What's wrong with making a life-long commitment to the person you love? That's not conforming. Open relationships are just plain selfish & greedy.

In contrast, I don't think that organizations such as HRC conform/are mainstream. They simply don't forcefully advocate for gay rights. They're satisfied with their position in the social/political world that they don't want to upset it.

Jackie said...

Well, as my "better late than never" comment: I am sometimes astounded at the venom and rudeness that I see between members of the LGBT community. I know that there will always be differences in peoples opinions, but some of the ugly things I read about Dan Choi (my hero along with Fr. Geoff) and other activists is awful. As a straight, white woman who is old enough to have fought for civil rights in the 60's (boy that is old, isn't it?) I hope that the fight for equality will be won soon and I think the best way to do that is to stick together and really fight. No one wins without great effort and sacrifice.