Monday, June 29, 2009

an interview with a gay activist

I was listening to the documentary series, In the Life, "stories from the gay experience." This particular video was celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. There was an interview with Larry Kramer (the interviewer was Lady Bunny), a long-time gay writer and activist.

"...a huge number of gay people do not self-identify first and foremost as gay. Until we can self-identify everyone of us, first and foremost, as gay, before anything else, we're not going to be able to put a population out there that's meaningful. I consider myself gay first, before I'm a gay man, or a gay Jew, or a gay writer or a gay activist. I am gay. And that dictates everything I do, how I look at things, how I react, how I write."
[Kramer then spoke about gays and lesbians in Obama's Administration.]
"It scared me... That's the new philosophy, 'we're all going to work together on this' and I just almost had a fit. We're NOT all in this together, we're
NOT all in this together! They are not with us! We have to go and we have to fight for us. I don't want you being in the White House and not fighting for us first and foremost (you gays and lesbians who are on Obama's staff)." [The bolding and caps are an attempt to catch his tonal emphasis, and apparent vehemence.]

Kramer, over and over, made a point of using the word, "population" to describe gays, rather than "community." At one point, he corrected the interviewer on this word.

I found this interview interesting on a number of levels, and disturbing in other regards. If I consider how I'd describe myself, I see my identity as a follower of Christ - seeking to live imitating Christ, loving God and others
- as transcending my identity as a woman, a white, an American, a daughter, a wife, a mother, etc. I also see the "church" [ideally, in the power of the Holy Spirit] as transcending, corporately, our human distinctions of gender, racial, cultural, economic, educational, and unique differences.

Substitute "gay" and "population" for "Christ-follower" and "church" and we find that Kramer's claims of gay transcendency over all other aspects of life as not dis-similar to those differences which we hope for in the church.

Here's a difference between us that causes me grave concern as someone committed to be "an ambassador of reconciliation." Christians profess to follow "God-with-us", and to be bearers of Christ, "good news" to everyone around us. [Please note well: I understand that too many "churches" and "Christians" fail to apprehend the justice, mercy, humility and love they are called by God to evidence to the world around them, faithfully. That point gets belabored elsewhere in my blog posts, and is besides this point.]

My point is a question: if Kramer wants to "call out" gays to be a distinct population from everyone else ("they" who are NOT-with-"us"), what would that look like and what would he anticipate the results being? Wouldn't this just result in further fracturing of our society? I don't understand how this kind of response to the majority - "they" - will ever elicit actions of love, goodness, justice and mercy... He sounded much more angry and divisive than peaceful or hopeful in his assertions.

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