It's June. It's that sweaty hot season here in the southern United States where you have to shower in the morning and the evening. And that must mean it's time for Gay Pride Month!
Here in Tallahassee, the local LGBT community tends to go elsewhere for Pride celebrations. But a few of us in the Mickee Faust Club, that band of misfits making mirth and mischief on stage in Railroad Square, decided that it was an abomination to neglect the historical Pride month, or proclaim how proud we are to be queer...in someone else's backyard rather than our own. And so, despite the heat, we have been staging what we call our "Queer As Faust" festival at the Mickee Faust Clubhouse, which has no pleasantries of climate control, but plenty of water and fans to keep the audience comfortable. This is our fifth year doing QAF, which nicely coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Mickee Faust Club. And because it is our silver celebration, all the material we are performing is from the 600+ skits, songs, bad jokes, monologues the troupe has written over the past 25 years. Hence, we are calling this cabaret, "The Queerest of Faust."
I was surprised and flattered that one of the pieces selected for this show was the video I did three years ago called, "Queer vs. Christian Relationship". It is the foundation of a yet-to-be-written solo performance piece in which I struggle with the identity of being both a lesbian and a Christian. Most folks reading this blog may think those two things are perfectly compatible. And they are. And they are not. At least not when you start to talk to the gay community or the Christian community. If these two identities were the natural extensions of each other, we wouldn't be wasting so many years locked in fights over same-sex blessings and Anglican Covenants, and a crucifix worn around the neck wouldn't be a conversation killer amongst queers.
I think the problem is s-e-x. Gay people...oh, my...are sexual beings who do make love to one another. Straight people are and do as well. But some straight women have actually told me that I'm not really having sex because I'm not experiencing penetration by a penis, and that just tells me that straight women have either been fed a whole bunch of crap about what "sex" should be, or they just don't know how to have any fun, or both! The church is scared to death to talk about sex in an honest and open way because it is such an "earthy" activity. But some of the early formers of our Christian beliefs were also some of the randiess guys in tunics and sandals. So rather than talk about it, they just classify it as something that is not to be mentioned.
Ah, but then God has this funny way of getting into the mix. And a strange thing happened along the way to blissfully ignoring a part of our humanity: gay people started appearing in churches and synagogues, and being honest about who they are in God. There was an initial response to this of treating the LGBT faithful like the modern day lepers, or tax collectors, or demoniacs (take your pick). The unchecked vitriol spouted from the pulpit proved an effective way to alienate LGBT people from their communities, and from God.
Oh, but then God isn't so easily foiled. Because when God wants a person to taste and see that God is good, that will happen... whether the institution is ready for it or not. And that's what's been happening over the past 40 years. Gay people of faith have been knocking at the gate and demanding to be allowed in with no strings attached. In some cases, those gates have opened only to find there are even more gates to get through before we are embraced fully. One of the ways the institution tries to reconcile its dis-ease with sex is to tell the LGBT people of faith that they must be celibate (this would be a string attached). I'm often curious why we must take on an additional vocation like celibacy. I mean, there is the expectation, as foolish as it is, that straight people who are UNmarried will not be having sex. But if straight people do have sex...well, does anyone really care? But when gay people have sex--EEK! I imagine this is why it's so much easier to deal with single LGBT people because then there is no temptation to think about how that person might be having sex. And if they are partnered? Well, we just don't talk about that...
These failures in communication have contributed to the difficulties of having gay people feel at home in a faith community. And because the gay community at-large have felt unwelcomed by the faith communities, many have chucked the church entirely. And sadly, they've tossed out God with it because (as I mentioned in previous entries) there is the mistaken idea that "God" and "church" are the same thing. Again, I don't worship the institution; I worship God. And my presence, and that of other LGBT people, is part of God's intention to make the institution look more like the image of God: one massive face of diversity and beauty.
I'm pleased with the audience response to my "Queer vs. Christian" video. One person last night told me he thought it added a nice balance to the otherwise broad and bawdy humor in our Faust show. I notice how quiet the audience gets. Until the punchline when they laugh and applaud with delight.
Three more performances to go! Buy your tickets now at www.mickeefaust.com! And Happy Pride month, my queer brothers and sisters around the globe!