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31 January 2005

Which closet?

Recently (the last three years or so), I’ve started to “come out” as
religious and even Christian.  In the circles in which I travel —
academia, Democrats, and the gay community — admitting one’s
Christianity is fairly subversive.  One suffers more social
sanction for admitting faith than for admitting to being queer.  I
had a faculty member once comment to me that none of us really
seriously believes in the things that our parents and grandparents did,
and that these are somehow lost to us.

I don’t, mind you, buy the line that it’s more difficult to come out as a Christian than as queer.  Telling fellow
academics, Democrats, and LGBT people that you’re a person of faith —
that faith — may be more immediately difficult.  But, to place a
rare bit of inner-life commentary here on the blog, coming out the the
closet as queer constitutes the most difficult, gut-wrenching, hurtful,
redemptive, honest set of actions I have ever undertaken.  It’s
only easy now because it was so hard in the past.  As a religious
person, my peers may regard me as fairly touched in the head, but it
has never estranged me from people, invited impersonal hate, or made me
fear for my personal safety.

That said, I’ve seen a couple of good pieces where people talk about
the misconceptions that have become pretty normal over the last few
years, as the “Christian” Right have appropriated the labels of
orthodox Christian belief to mean them and them exclusively.  The first discusses the issue in the context of a book of the ABC, Rowan Williams.  The second requires that you have some sort of Nexis-Lexis access, because it’s from the Peter Steinfels’ NYT column about a month ago,
so it’s already archived (and they think that people will actually pay
for it).  If you can’t get it, and I’m not buried in requests, I
can probably mail my copy to you.

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3 Responses to “Which closet?”

  1. Lisa Williams Says:

    I wish that I had more faith than I do. I just can’t go to my old church — a Catholic church that my Dad went to — anymore. I took my second baby there for a blessing and the priest was preaching this shocking, hateful screed against gay marriage on one of the most beautiful readings of the year — the Marriage at Cana. That was over a year ago, and I haven’t been back.

    I keep thinking about going to the local Episcopalian church I attended for awhile, but I miss being connected to my family tradition, to the generations and generations of peoople behind me who worshipped at this church. But it’s just become too hard. I don’t want to break it for my kids, but I don’t know what to do. I still haven’t baptized my second son, and he’s over a year old now. It really bothers me.

    *Sigh.* I feel like The Man Without A Country, except I’m the Bake Sale Lady Without a Church.

  2. Nate Says:

    I know it’s hard. But please feel free to come to us Episcopalians. You’ll probably feel as comfortable as you can in a non-RC church, since we often look a lot like our RC siblings.

    Or you might think of it this way. You’ve got a lot of tradition and memory of your own tied up behind you in your home parish. Maybe since you can’t have that, you can have a corporate tradition and memory that you can make your personal own in another church.

  3. miw Says:

    “As a religious person, my peers may regard me as fairly touched in the head, but it has never estranged me from people, invited impersonal hate, or made me fear for my personal safety.”

    Religion or sexual persuasion notwithstanding, I can safely say your peers have always regarded you as fairly touched in the head.