Tonight, I loved my gay neighbours.
It says in the Bible to love your neighbour. Many times. Jesus said it, true, but it says it in the Hebrew scriptures (that Jesus was quoting, by the way) as well as in the letters that Paul wrote after he encountered the Spirit of Jesus and claimed to be an apostle. But sometimes my experience of my fellow Christians (and society in general) is that they interpret this particular commandment fairly narrowly, or at times when it suits their own agenda or doesn’t inconvenience them.
One particular nugget of homophobia that drives me insane is when that great patronizing liberal comment comes out: “I don’t care what your sexual orientation is, but I don’t want to see two men groping each other in the park. I wouldn’t want to see a hetero-couple groping in the park (LIE), I don’t want to see two gays do it either.”
Granted there is a spectrum of groping that needs to be appropriately contextualized; What I consider acceptable on my Tuesday or Sunday night runs around Lake Merritt here in Oakland is different than what I find acceptable at a pride block party on Davie Street in Vancouver or in the Castro here in San Francisco. But this particular interaction happened in the former context.
So I’m 5/6 done my Sunday night training for a ½ marathon coming up this October. 54 weeks after giving birth to my first child and after having NOT shed the baby weight, it is more of a challenge mentally than I expected, and less of a challenge physically, so overall that’s good news.
I’m coming down the home stretch and talking myself out of walking to the finish, and I see this couple up ahead of me walking holding hands. They’re walking and talking, all of a sudden one of the men gives a little jump, grabs his partner by the face and plants a big fat one on him. Nothing overly arousing, but definitely enthusiastic and open. They hug, kiss again, and keep walking.
Now I do live in the Bay Area, but you only have to watch any portrayal of the life of Harvey Milk to realize that homophobia is alive and well here too. So I’m running and thinking to myself: how wonderful. As I pass them, I comment openly, “Comfortable Gay PDA is SO much more awesome than me training for a ½ marathon.” They threw their hands up in the air and yelled, “Whooooooo! That’s right! You GO girl! Work it, work it!”
Now, it could just be no big deal that I did that. But I was very intentional in what I was saying. As a person of faith – as one who has authority within a faith tradition – it means something to me when I affirm the equality of non-hetero relationships.
These two men are simply my neighbours, living in the East Bay. I don’t know them, they don’t know me – they certainly don’t know I’m an ordained minister. And so maybe to them I’m just the good Samaritan who affirmed their right to hold hands and plant spontaneous kisses on each other without provoking hate crimes. But for me it was a conscious choice to be loving my gay neighbours open and out loud in a yet-anonymous expression of my personal faith.
I could just open my checkbook and choose again to support “EQ –C A” (Equality California), the state-wide non-profit seeking equal rights for the LGBT community or make another donation to The Gaily, but that does not go far enough in my understanding of love.
Tonight two gay men who are my neighbours know that I think they deserve the same dignity and right to PDA as any god-fearing redneck straight kids from Wichita High USA. I just couldn’t help myself. It is what Jesus would do.