Yesterday’s post, My Morning Dose of Homophobia, continues to go viral. It now has the third-highest number of page views of any post I’ve written (just below After My First Crown Tourney, but far lower than Tragedy and Solidarity). It’s received views from more than fifteen countries, as far away as the UAE, South Korea and Australia. I haven’t — and I genuinely feel weird saying this — I haven’t received so much as single negative comment or complaint about the article.
I was not the only one who disliked Johnathan Buck’s opinions: the backlash was so strong and overwhelming that it actually made the local TV news.
In response to the wave of outrage, from local organizations and private citizens alike, the Peterborough Examiner removed Buck’s article from their webpage around 5:00pm yesterday, although of course they couldn’t recall the thousands of hard copies of their newspaper which featured the article on the front page. This morning’s front page featured a rebuttal by Kim Dawson of the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network, and today’s Letters to the Editor is chock full of responses to yesterday’s article.
Aside from the emailed comment to CHEX News in the video linked above, Mr. Buck is apparently refusing to give any interviews on the matter.
Thanks to some information from a reader and a couple of web-searches, I’ve managed to learn a bit more about Johnathan Buck; he’s a writer, he’s contributed to the local paper repeatedly in the past… and he’s the pastor of the Grace Communion International Church here in Peterborough. The GCI Church is, perhaps unsurprisingly given it’s pastor’s anti-gay, anti-evolution opinions, a pretty right-leaning evangelical denomination, although to be fair I did find an article from the president of their church specifically spelling out their position on homosexuality: it’s a sin, gay marriage is illegitimate, but church members “are opposed to verbal or physical abuse of anyone in the LGBT community or any other community.” (That’s some pretty textbook “love the sinner, hate the sin” hypocrisy.)
Well, that’s fine. I’ve been accused of having an anti-Christian stance on this blog before, but I honestly don’t believe that I do; I have an anti-bigot stance. I know many Christians who are genuinely sincere, decent people whose faith strengthens and empowers them to work for social justice and to take a stand as queer allies; based on my experiences as an activist, pretty much anyone who’s a member of the Religious Society of Friends gets automatic credit as a decent person with me, and I have many friends who belong to the local Unitarian Fellowship. If I seem to have a problem with Christians, it’s largely because so much reactionary ugliness is dressed up in Christian terms.
Draping their intolerance in religion is a long-standing tactic of bigots which is almost as offensive as the intolerance; it is an insult to religion and, for that matter, to drapery. Such so-called “Christians” often manage to co-opt Christianity’s public face and present themselves as the only true voice of their community, to the discredit of their coreligionists and their faith. While I might wish that more moderate Christians would be more vocal in their opposition to such people — and I have, often — I’m very much doing so from the outside looking in: I am not myself a Christian despite (or in some ways because of) being raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic household. I do have a personal spirituality in the neo-pagan vein, but I rarely discuss religious matters as I regard my faith as far too personal for public analysis or debate. However I am certainly not, as I was once accused, an anti-theist nor am I an atheist. Heck, I’m not even an agnostic.
What I am is a bisexual man, a leftist neopagan, an environmentalist, a social justice and queer rights activist, and a freethinker. I also hold, as anyone who reads this blog is aware, some very strong opinions and a skill at writing which allows me to express them; I pride myself, as one high school guidance counsellor memorably opined, “on a healthy contempt for authority.” I do try to be a good person, not out of fear of damnation but out of a genuine sense of solidarity with my fellows, and I like to think that I succeed in that effort a great deal more than I fail.
And to a certain percentage of the Christian community, that all makes me a horrible sinner, one destined to burn in Hell for all eternity.
But I am gratified to note that attitude is increasingly unpopular, both in the general public and the Christian community. Once, people would have turned a blind eye to blatant homophobia, or at least been afraid to publicly condemn it; yesterday’s furious backlash against Pastor Johnathan Buck’s article is a good example of the change in public acceptance of LGBT people and the increasing refusal in our society to allow homophobia to slide. Yesterday I mentioned the cab driver in Calgary who was suspended for refusing service to a gay couple; his employers suspended him immediately because they knew any public outcry would be large enough to seriously damage their business.
Equal marriage has been the law of the land here in Canada for a decade (as of last month, an anniversary which passed almost unremarked in the media) and it’s become so successfully integrated into our societal fabric that not even the most die-hard Conservatives in government will even hint that it be repealed. While there are still bigots opposed to equal marriage, by and large they keep their mouths shut… lest they suffer the same fate that Pastor Buck did yesterday. I don’t take any particular pleasure in Buck’s public lambasting, but I am happy to see further proof that there’s no longer any profit, at least in the general community, in being openly homophobic… although of course there are the ugly little echo-chambers of the fanatics where one can still get away with it.
And thus we progress. Once upon a time it would have been unimaginable that LGBT people should have the same rights as “normal” people. Now it is unimaginable that we shouldn’t. There are still many problems that need addressing — especially for transgendered people, the often-ignored “T” in “LGBT” — but we are making progress.
I just wish we were making progress a bit faster, is all.