Queer Religion

QUEERRELIGIONBy Nicole Quinones, 19Miami, FL

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]A[/dropcap]s a lesbian, I face tons of opposition. Those who believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman, those who think we’re “unnatural”, those who find us disgusting. Those who think it's "such a waste, such a shame.” And, not mistakenly, we often associate these things with religion.

Many of us don’t bother with religion. After all, we are shunned in most churches and the excuses of the homophobes are more than likely displayed in a wagging of the holy finger and threats of an eternal fire or a retracted promise of 72 virgins. Oh, man. I’m shaking in my vegan Doc Martens. Aside from not bothering with it, many of us shun religion. Why would we want to be accepting of an institution that permeates such horrible ideas about us and treats us so inhumanely?[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]H[/dropcap]owever, I’m here to tell you that religion isn’t as anti-gay as a lot of us may believe. I think we can agree that a book that was written who knows how long ago isn’t gonna come flying out of the sky, leaving specifically every lesbian and gay man and trans person with a life-threatening concussion. The power lies in those who perpetuate and “translate” the sacred texts. I put translate in quotations because these translations don’t hold so much to accuracy as to the personal (and usually biased) interpretation of the translator.

Take it from me: I attended private Christian schools (in Miami, no less - the Cuban homophobic mecca) until the age of sixteen. I blindly believed in what they told me for a long time.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

Actually, I distinctly remember one day the boys in my class ranking on Ricky Martin for being gay and when my mom picked me up in her Tahoe that day I told her I hated Ricky Martin because he was gay (go figure right? Fast forward a few years and here I am having blasphemous homosexual relationships and loving it). My mom (bless her) scolded me and told me being gay was not any reason to hate somebody. That shut me right up.[pullquote]As for me, I believe your spirituality is something you make yourself. No one sets the rules for what you have to believe or what you follow; that’s all up to you. [/pullquote]

In my last year of Christian education, however, I was fed up with it. I found myself mentally rebuking everything my teachers said. I would shake my head and talk in chapel (much to the glares of the dean of students). By the time I got out of there, I was a proudly self-proclaimed atheist. “Ask me anything!” I would say, “I’ve got an answer that’ll make you rethink your whole life.” I was so happy to be away from a fishbowl of an education.

After a couple of years, I discovered that I was not an atheist. I’ll spare you the details; everybody has their own beliefs and I am not trying to impose mine on anybody. To this day, though I don’t like labels. I guess you could call me an agnostic. I prefer to say I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.

It took me a while to get over my animosity towards religion. I had always thought that you couldn’t be gay and be a “real” Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or anything else. I would look at my Christian bisexual friend Alex (I’ll just call her that) and secretly brand her a hypocrite. It wasn’t until I took a Queer Theory and Religion class in my junior year of college that I realized queers and religion might actually be able to coexist! Whoa![divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]M[/dropcap]y deliciously impious fabulously gay professor opened my eyes to the evil in the corrupt institutions, not in the religion, not in the book. He told me homosexuality has been around for ages and been praised by many religions. Did you guys know Ruth and Naomi in the Bible were lesbian lovers?! The text uses a Hebrew word (“dabaq”, which literally means “clung to”) when describing the relationship between Ruth and Naomi. The Bible also uses this exact same word when describing Adam and Eve’s relationship back in Genesis. Additionally, Jonathan and David are described as soul mates in the text. Take that religious homophobes!

My professor also opened my eyes to the inherent homosexuality in institutions such as convents for nuns, monasteries for monks, and the celibacy of priests. I mean, come on! Don’t tell me if you were gay back in the day you wouldn’t become a nun! Those nunneries were coursing with estrogen and closet-lesbians. Let’s be real.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap]n more eastern religions, homosexuality was considered the purest form of love. Since no children could come out of the union, the couple had to be together for love, as opposed to opposite-sex unions which were more for reasons of convenience and reproduction (especially with the prevalence of arranged marriages). Even trans and intersex folks were considered extra holy, because they were different. They weren’t just man or just woman, they were the best because (in the politically incorrect eyes of these ancients) they were both and could combine the positives of both sexes. The strength of men and the clearheadedness of women, woven together into perfection. Religious leaders of many tribes and groups tended to be trans.

My professor's comedy put it in a way that made sense. He used to tell us, “Back in the 70s, when coming out was becoming normal for us, it defined who we were. When we came out, it was like the gay gestapo would come steal us away in the middle of night and tell us we had to abandon everything we were, including our religion. We were just gay. But now, we can see queer people coexisting in their religions, not having to give up their beliefs and their sanctuary just because of who they love or how they identify.”

As for me, I believe your spirituality is something you make yourself. No one sets the rules for what you have to believe or what you follow; that’s all up to you. Translate the book the way you want to, or don’t translate it at all if that’s what you’re in to. Religion can’t be the same for everybody; it doesn’t work that way. It has to be personalized because obviously, we’re all different. So don’t be afraid to be queer and love Jesus, because there’s space for anything you want in your life, whether the gay gestapo agrees or not!