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Gays and Conservative Christians

Rob Tisinai

March 29th, 2013

It’s been a long day. A long and scary day. But before I get to that…

You may have noticed that I don’t much write about what is said and done by conservative Christians or the religious right anymore. For quite a long time I’ve referred to our most vocal opponents instead.

That’s because I’ve been schooled by Will’s family, especially his parents. They’re conservative Christians, beyond a doubt. And after a long period of not really wanting to meet his boyfriends, they suddenly changed their mind. There was no big announcement. Four and a half years ago, when our first Christmas rolled around, Will’s mom simply called and asked what time of the day we were coming over. And since then they’ve treated me like family.

Our house is in my name. A year after Will moved in we remodeled the kitchen. Will’s family, led by his dad, came down for the demolition. And it was a crowd, because Will (at that time) had 8 nieces and nephews — it’s up to 10 now. The cutest memory is his 3-year-old nephew grabbing a fist-size piece of floor tile and running to throw it in the enormous trash bin. Meanwhile, Will’s brothers and parents (including his mom) were taking sledgehammers and pickaxes to our flooring and walls. We took that mother down to its studs and saved about three grand doing it. Then Will’s brother Gordon, an electrical contractor, ran the kitchen wiring.

Back to the point: This was pulled together by Will’s conservative Christian father, for a house that wasn’t in his son’s name. And he did it not in spite of but because of his conservative Christian family values. And I think you can date the change in my vernacular to about that time, though I don’t think I was aware of it as it happened.

So, today. Today we got word that one of Will’s nephews had been in a serious accident. He’d been choppered from his home an hour away to a Children’s Hospital close to our house, and he’d been placed in a medically-induced coma.

He’s out of it now. Looks like everything’s going to be fine. But Will’s whole family descended on our house tonight and I told them the entire place was at their disposal. I mean, come on. They’ve treated me like family for years now. Obviously I’m going to do the same.

Mostly I was happy that Will and I happened to live so close to the facility. My thoughts were chiefly with young Jonathan, but I’d spent a whole week reading about how angry our opponents were (angry that their lawyers hadn’t put forth a moral case against homosexuality); as the clan enveloped this house that they helped build, I couldn’t help but remember those awful commentators. I couldn’t help but declare: GO TO HELL.

Go to hell, and go there forever. I’ve never said go to hell with such a sense of moral authority as when saying it to these fools who think that there is something wrong, something immoral, something unnatural, about the safe haven built by this whole family of people who suddenly find it available in their moment of need.

Yeah, go to hell. All I know is that the conservative Christians who were with me today won’t be there to greet you.

And now I have to go tend to the little ones who are too young for visiting hours.

Comments

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Rick Brentlinger
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

I appreciate you Rob and thank God for you and your loving extended family. You are blessed and you are a blessing.

Dante
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

But Rob

Will you speak up here against the daily bashing of Christians in general? After all, day after day, day in and day out, regulars here bash all Christians – progressive Christians, moderate Christians, supportive conservative Christians, gay Christians and lesbian Christians, transgendered and bi and questioning Christians –

all mocked and bashed here, day after day after day after day . . .

will you keep silent?

Ben in Oakland
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, if you weren’t will, and I weren’t paul’s, I’d marry you in a minute, and I’m glad to hear Jonathan’s out of danger.

Dante, there are some people here who bash all Christians. But I think most of the people who post here, even the most strident, are subtle and big minded enough to know that it isn’t all Christians, and certainly not Christianity, that’s the enemy.

In many postings, here and elsewhere, I’ve chided people who do that kind of bashing, because its not true, nor right, nor fair. I’ve often stated “as a thorough goin atheist, I believe in freedom of religion. I support your freedom OFRELIGION.”

So please,don’t do exactly what you accuse us of doing. But on the other hand, please recognize where the real shit comes from, and why it’s being slung a us, and why we are as angry as we are.

Because that’s what’s really here. It’s anger. It’s fury. If my fury could become realized, you would see a number of churches flattened, imams who murder young gay men strung up for their families to watch, orthodox rabbis who have forgotten the holocaust forcibly reminded,, people like Jerry Falwell weighed in my balance, and despite the fat, found very wanting indeed.

But don’t mistake it for hate, and don’t accuse of wanton Christian bashing. It’s not true.

Lindoro Almaviva
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Thoughts and prayers with your family. Glad to hear the kid will be ok.

Victor
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

I prefer the terms “Christiantics,” “Religionists,” or “Religious Fundamentalcases” to describe those who wield their faith like a blind swordsman confident that whatever he hits will deserve to be struck down. But I have a real hard time using the term “Christian” alone to describe our enemies. I was raised in a Christian household, and continue to be nurtured by my Christian family, along with my partner, after coming out 25 years ago. I also concede my version of spirituality is heavily imbued by Christian paradigms. So I cannot degrade all Christians – or all straight people, for that matter – because there are too many positive examples of both in my life. And, I dare say, that it is the open presence of gay people like me in Christian families that is responsible for the very real changes happening in the world we see around us, more so than any legislation or court victory. We are living through an extraordinary time. The changes may not be happening equally everywhere – and some people are too invested in their fear and hatred to ever accept such changes – but it IS happening and there is no going back.

gsingjane
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Dear Rob – prayers ascending, and if prayers aren’t good, then positivity and good intentions. I know exactly, EXACTLY, how horrible a family emergency involving a young person can be, and also understand that doctrinal divisions can and must fall away. Family, in the end, is all that matters. I am really glad for you that it looks like your nephew will be okay… we both know that things can go the “other way” in the blink of an eye and I’m also glad that you and your husband have good, constructive things you can do.

It must be particularly striking to your family that this terrible “walk” that they are on, is happening during Holy Week.

I would have plenty to say on the subject of Christianity and the GLBT community (tending to agree with Dante, frankly) but I don’t feel like now is the time. Maybe when things get more back to normal, it is a subject that can and should be re-visited.

ZRAinSWVA
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Dante, I’m tending to agree with you as well, but, but…it’s so damnably hard not to be bitter and angry and resentful and…

jpeckjr
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Be sure and tell us when Jonathan goes home.

What you’ve done is exactly what families are supposed to do for each other. While it disrupted your routines, I’ll bet not a moment has felt like a burden.

ZRAinSWVA
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, I am very happy that your family has proven so open and welcoming, and I hope Jonathan recovers quickly.

Priya Lynn
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Well Dante, I was going to make a comment about how there are a lot of good christians out there but I wouldn’t want to interfere with your overgeneralizations about me.

Priya Lynn
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Just for you Dante:

All christians are evil anti-gay bigots.

(wouldn’t want you to think for a second I don’t believe that)

Maurice Lacunza
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

That brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing that story. Important lessons for everyone.

Regan DuCasse
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

A stupendous drag performer friend of mine just wrote a short essay also on his gratitude to the UC Irvine Medical Center’s treatment of him and his husband, AS husbands when his husband underwent surgery. And what would have happened or could, if Prop. 8 remains for those couples who can’t marry.
He and his Spanish born husband were legally married in Spain when it was legal there. They have been together for 18 years, but married for six.
The center respected him as family, next of kin. He was there and could be to sign for, attend to and be there for his husband because, essentially, he has been the only one with him for so long, and the only person right THERE who could do it.
His husband’s family is in Europe. Otherwise, anyone else considered the legal family, would have had no proximity to be of any legal or creature help at all.
My friend was exceedingly grateful for the care he and his husband BOTH received.
And mindful of those who are in danger of not receiving it, even though they and/or their children NEED it.

It’s so strange, and rather cruel and stupid, to tell gay people that they can change their behavior or there is no value in their lives because they don’t make babies spontaneously, or it’s assumed they don’t have real relationships or love in them that matters.
This only comes from straight people who have never LISTENED to any gay people who love their families.
And don’t want to hear from any gay people in love or who have families.

I mean, seriously. How do you create and entire system of laws against people who haven’t been allowed to have a say, or who keep being denied they deserve one?

Dante
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks Priya, for confirming what I posted.

You have a flood of posts here in which you revile Christians.

I understated the case, frankly.

Ben, someday, perhaps, you’ll recognize that the excuses you just made, sound exactly like the ones that homophobes make day after day.

They too, are furious, for they recognize that the moral wrong they have been engaged in, applauded for, is being revealed as the moral wrong that it is.

They threaten homosexuals, you threaten people of faith. There really is very little difference.

Priya Lynn
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Of course Dante, in your closed and delusional mind I confirmed what you posted. You’re just as bad as you allege the people are you complain about.

jerry
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, you are a lucky man to have a warm and supporting family. Perhaps some day, everyone can have such a family.

Hyhybt
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Prayer for Jonathan, and you and the rest of your family.

And for those who prefer to demonize as many people as possible.

chiMaxx
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Rob: Best wishes for your nephew’s health. It’s wonderful how, given the time to work through their feelings, Will’s family has embraced you, and that you were ready to embrace them back as now part of YOUR family rather than nurse a grudge over previous slights.

Dante: No one is perfect, but I try to shy away from broad generalizations about groups of people. In part because I am nonconformist. Half the time when people say “All people of X type want is Y,” I’m thinking: ‘I’m an X and I don’t want Y,’ so I try to draw generalization about other X groups I don’t belong to.

That said, I have a problem with the false equivalency in your comments. It’s undeniable that most vocal anti-gay voices, and most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage (sets with some overlap but not entirely the same people) cite their religion (usually in this country some variant of Christianity), and if they were successful, the result would be to prohibit gay people and same-sex couples from receiving real material legal protections and benefits.

The right to go through life never having your beliefs or prejudices challenged–which would be the sole result to christians of the anti-Christian commentators–simply does not rise to the same level.

And this brings us back around to what’s beautiful about Rob’s story: On both sides–that of Will’s family and of Rob–at core this is about recognizing that when it comes to people you love, you have reached a point where your core beliefs and your prejudices are separable, embracing your core beliefs and releasing your prejudices. And, of course, letting go of over-generalization.

Rob Tisinai
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

I do need make sure everyone knows one thing: Will’s family never subjected me to any slights. I met them 9 months after meeting Will, and they were lovely to me from the beginning.

Rob Tisinai
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Also, my thanks to everyone who has offered their prayers and best wishes for Jonathan.

All signs are looking good. We visited him today and he woke up, waved at us, and rolled over to sleep. His dad is sleeping at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Will and I are discovering what an adventure it is to keep four teenagers fed. Especially when one of them is 6’8″ (not a typo) and trying to pack on weight for football!

Ben in Oakland
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Dante, I think you missed the point of my comment, and the sarcasm of priya s.

Priya Lynn
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Ben, Dante wanted to miss those things.

chiMaxx
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Rob: Sorry if I misunderstood the “After a long period of not really wanting to meet his boyfriends” as having meant there was a period of time when they didn’t want to meet you.

And I understand. Even when my dad was still uncomfortable with me being gay and hesitant to meet my boyfriends, he was always gracious when he did meet them and made an effort to get to know them as individuals. I may have known of his discomfort, but they never did.

Richard Rush
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

Dante,

Just wondering:

Would I be “bashing” Christians if I constructed a beautiful building, and then invited people to come weekly to hear me preach with truth in love about how gods do not exist, and that they should accept reason as their personal savior?

Would I be “bashing” Christians if I refuse to be silent about my sincerely held beliefs when I know it might upset the powerful majority who relentlessly promote their own sincerely held beliefs not only individually but via massive well-funded institutions who have insisted with an iron fist century after century that a god does exist?

Wouldn’t most of the agitation about “bashing” evaporate if there were some compelling evidence to support Christian beliefs? Evidence might make it more difficult for critics of Christianity while giving Christians more deserved confidence in their beliefs and make them feel less threatened by opposing beliefs? So, wouldn’t the most productive thing be for Christians to spend more time trying to discover some of that compelling evidence, and less time complaining about “bashing?”

Ben in Oakland
March 30th, 2013 | LINK

I will write moreon this later. I was tired last night, and realized I was not as clear as I might have been.

Jim Hlavac
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

We are not “bashing” Christians — it is self defense to say “stop, please,” as we do, when once again we have a Bible verse calling for our deaths shoved in our faces. Oh, how many times have I — you, us — heard the Bible verses; we know them by heart. We turn the other cheek, they slap that.

You know what, Rob — you’re right. To these people with their hard hearts — demanding our own families despise us – -they can go to hell.

Oh, we have reached out, I suppose we shall continue, and extended the hand of peace — but there comes a limit, too.

Tom
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Well, Rob’s beautiful post describes how the family has treated you. But missing from Rob’s post is any discussion of what the family actually thinks of you.

Did you ever ask them whether they think you are bound to hell? Did you ever ask them whether they are genuinely happy for you and Will? It is entirely possible that they have chosen to behave lovingly toward you out of a sense of Christian obligation, with the hope that, by their example, you might be “led to the Lord.”

This is not my invention. Christian TV, radio and blogs are full of stories of how some Christian entered the life of some filthy sinner, acted lovingly toward the miserable hell-bound wretch, and thus achieved a breakthrough leading to salvation.

Anyway, if it is the case that they genuinely accept you and Will and don’t harbor ulterior motives, then they aren’t real Christians. And you should be thankful for that.

Mark F.
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Tom:

Look up the “No True Scotsman” fallacy

Jonathan
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

“No true Scotsman” or not, it’s a valid question. I assumed my conservative Christian parents had come around because they seemed accepting and supportive of me and my partner.

Then last year when I finally bothered to ask, I found out that not only are they anti marriage equality, they don’t even support civil unions.

Just because they aren’t throwing bible verses in your face doesn’t mean the hate or lack of empathy isn’t there somewhere. Especially if they’re from the Deep South.

Pacal
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Rob so your angry against those who said our opponents were angry and cetainly you are very angry. So why? The fact is a lot of our opponents are very angry and great many do indeed identify themselves as “Conservative Christians”. And from the mouths of those peoples issue a torrent of lies and what can only be described has hate. But no your anger is reserved for those who said our opponents were angry.

Your defence seems to be that a group of them has treated you and your partner decently. Your arguement seems to be that lumping all those people together as “Consevative Christians” is unfair to your family. It is a variation of the no true Scotman fallacy. The fact is a lot of people who identify themselves as “Conservative Christians” are viciously homophobic and use the Bible as a weapon and treat people badly. If your arguinjg for more nuance in distinguishing among “Conservative Christians” then yes that would probably be a good idea. But again many of the most virululent and vicious of our detractors identify themselves as “Conservative Shristians” as polls etc indicate in abundance.

As your family helped out you say you could not help but remember those “awful commentators” who had the gall to point out that many “Conservative Christians” had attitudes and opinions that were hateful and detrimental to us. As indicated by abundant evidence. You then made it personal like this was directed at you and your family. Well it wasn’t. It was directed at people who identify as “Conservative Christians” whose attitudes were and are hateful.

You then tell those who pointed out the hatefulness of so many so-called “Conservative Christians” to go to hell. You then talk about that these people seemed to view that “there is something wrong, something immoral, something unnatural, about the safe haven built by this whole family of people who suddenly find it available in their moment of need.”

Well having seen and heard about from so many of my friends and read about it is so many places about “Conservative Christians” who have and still do work very hard to destroy the “safe havens” created by Gay people, to undermine and threaten Gay relationships and families; to annihilate the self esteem of Gay people. That so many of the “Conservative Christians” view our relationships as immoral, unnatural and evil. I could give many, many personal examples. But your anger is reserved for those who respond to this relentless assualt.

You are of course aware that many of the “Conservative Christians” have and will continue to consign you and your partner to hell if you die “unrepentant”. So you won’t be in heaven with them.

The fact that your partners parents and family, no doubt after some soul seraching, came around and now treat you decently proves that they are fundamentaly decent people. It doesn’t change the fact, and it is a fact, that “Conservative Christians” frequently have extremely hateful attitudes with unplesant consequences for Gay people.

Rob Tisinai
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Pascal, I saw you wrote this: “Rob so your angry against those who said our opponents were angry,” and I realized you have no idea of what I said.

I skimmed the rest and saw this, “You then tell those who pointed out the hatefulness of so many so-called “Conservative Christians” to go to hell,” and I wondered what post you were reading.

I said, “Go to Hell” to “these fools who think that there is something wrong, something immoral, something unnatural, about” my relationship with Will and the home we have built — the ANTI-GAY commentators who are “angry that their lawyers hadn’t put forth a moral case against homosexuality” during the Supreme Court trial.

How you got from that to the idea I’m saying “Go to Hell” to gays who are angry at conservative Christians, I simply have no idea.

Pacal
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Rob I reread your posting. Frankly I don’t know what I was thinking when I read it the first time.

But your right I did misread what you wrote.

So I withdraw all of it.

Oh and it is Pacal not Pascal.

Rob Tisinai
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Thanks Pacal. Sorry for the aggravated tone. Nerves have been a little on edge this weekend.

Andrew
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

First of all, Rob, let me say that labels and identities come to a screeching halt (or should) when family – especially a young person – has to be choppered to a freakin’ hospital and put into a medically induced coma. There’s nothing to say, even if circumstances were fraught within the family, except that everyone is pulling for the young man, and your friends (or whatever we are – we need more words with more definitions) support you with all other concerns aside.

That said (and coma passed). I’m so delighted to read that your family (and yes, Will’s family is your family now) has rearranged their moral, intellectual, and cultural furniture to make the realities of their life work in a way that expresses their truest values, and their love for their son, and now, you.

They may not have realized what they gained in the process (that would be you) at the time. It’s a bit of stereotyping, but I think one rooted in common-sense. People who experience first-hand how fragile family is, and who have an opportunity to see what family rejection looks like – and who construct families outside our blood bonds – tend to have a particularly fierce sense of loyalty, especially when it’s hard-earned.

Something tells me you’d walk through fire for your in-laws, and something tells me they know it, and would do the same for you.

There’s something beautiful about the deliberation of that – something that’s not normal, or expected, or obvious about that – something about the effort involved in lifting heavy (intellectual and emotional) objects that speaks volumes about the core of a person.

Lastly, thanks for differentiating between “our opponents” and “Conservative Christians”. I’m often critical of those I accuse of being apologists for bad behavior on the right or who look for the first opportunity to grant pardons, but that’s not at all what we’re talking about here. What you’ve experienced with your family is precisely what I’ve enjoyed with my oldest childhood (and still best-) friend, and what I’ve enjoyed in my VP at work for the past 14 years. And it’s precisely the distinction between folks like your family and the johnny-come-latelys that I’m ranting about when I rail against those who try to emulate “on the cheap” our conservative allies who got there without obvious reward or aplomb. Your family just did it, no discussion. Because they opened their hearts and minds.

Their payoff isn’t being on the “right side of history” or keeping their job with the public longer. It’s the ability to square their values with their beliefs, and a richer, safer, tighter family – one that walks through fire for you… or puts on a spread when everyone’s too freaked out to think and tends to the rugrats during a family catastrophe. Or who takes care of their mother-in-law for 5 years. Or who helps plan their brother-in-law’s wedding. Or who takes time out of a vacation 3000 miles away to step in for a friend’s mother’s funeral, or…

Happy Easter, Rob, and Will, and your extended family!

Jack
March 31st, 2013 | LINK

Awesome post. I hope your nephew is up and about in no time.

gsingjane
April 1st, 2013 | LINK

@ Rob – if your sojourn with the 4 teenagers and their eating habits is going to persist, I have one word for you: ALDI.

Okay maybe there isn’t one around where you live, but back when I had 4 teenagers in my house and had to provide six squares a day, I found that I almost couldn’t function without this store. I’m not saying you have to buy all the junk, but especially their prices on dairy and produce are excellent. When you’re going through a gallon of milk in two days, or a bag of oranges in one, as I used to, you just can’t beat ALDI. (If you had the kids long-term I’d also recommend looking into Costco but I’m assuming that won’t be the case).

For years we also went to the bakery day-old store; that’s good not only for bread but also rolls, pita, wraps, etc.

I don’t know if you find this, but probably my biggest challenge feeding teenagers was and is, people coming home and needing to eat right that minute. It’s very hard to put something healthy together on 30 seconds’ notice and I think that’s why so many people do buy the Hot Pockets, Totino’s pizza rolls, and so forth. And somehow, my kids never seemed to want the baby carrots, humus, and other quickie but somewhat healthy options.

I hope you’ll have better luck than I did!

Reed
April 1st, 2013 | LINK

Has “i’David” suddenly transmorphed into “Dante?” Because whoever-the-hell-it-is has come late to the party only to start whinging about the decor.

Get a Virgil for this one – and mind the gap, since you’re not minding the bridge.

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