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Dumbing down the gay-rights movement

April 29, 2006|By David Bussard

I've always had a taste in books that would make my mother scratch her head (or move it from left to right) and that would make my father smile. My thought process is much more like my father's - I have a tendency to question the world around me rather than accepting what I'm given. This tendency has led me most recently to Elaine Pagels' book "The Gnostic Gospels," which explores early Christian thought and rethinks some commonly held religious ideas.

Pagels discusses in her book the several forms of Christianity that rose after the crucifixion of Christ. Many of the early followers of Christ were condemned by other Christians as heretics. It was not until the fourth century that a unified Christianity came to be.

What was it that brought about this sudden change? The conversion of Emperor Constantine. Now, with the muscle of the state, bishops who denounced other forms of Christianity ordered heretical books burned. The texts that Pagels explores were hidden for some 1,600 years in a jar. It is widely suggested that a monk at a monastery once located near where the texts were found placed them in the jar to save them from destruction.

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Gnosticism died out. The political structures prevalent in the fourth century killed it. But it is due to these saved texts that we are able to explore this tributary of Christian thought. I'm a firm believer in the idea that there are many paths to heaven and there are many paths to finding God, but here on Earth it seems that religious and political paths merge far too often to form some hideous highway. When these two structures wed, they move like a snake does, curving and bending around some wicked tree tempting passing citizens to eat its fruit.

I'm not talking about morality. If there's anything my generation needs, it's a good sit-down about morality and ethics. Instead I'm talking about the one path we all must walk in the eyes of a unified political and religious structure. You can see this sort of ideology in the Bush Administration. There is one way to pray. There is one way to think. There is one way to love.

It is this last thought that troubles me the most. There is one way to love. A lot of Americans have a heart and a hypothalamus that says otherwise. In America's new religious age, homosexuals are a primary political target. Everyday citizens who go to work every morning in your building or buy their groceries at your supermarket or mow their lawns just as you do are held under the thumb of an active and ignorant oppressor. It is absurd that, in an age in which science has suggested that homosexuals are wired differently than heterosexuals, gays are still denied equal rights.

I don't intend to turn this into some sob story about a defenseless community. Instead I find it interesting that the homosexual community is rather complacent. Activism isn't really activism. Organizations like GLAAD honor television shows like "Queer As Folk" and "The L Word," both of which are little more than soft-core porn with a weak political message. This isn't progress. This isn't a great leap forward. This is nothing more than showy defamation.

If the gay rights movement wishes to keep its head above the water, it needs to not ignore what its goals are. Gay-themed television isn't going to aid the cause if it presents far too often seen stereotypes of homosexuals as promiscuous or unintelligent.

The earliest role models of the gay rights movement were intellectuals and men of thought such as Oscar Wilde and Magnus Hirschfeld. Today, the gay rights movement looks to entertainers as figureheads rather than thinkers. Perhaps that is part of the problem.

With the dumbing down of popular culture, there is also the dumbing down of a movement. The LGBT community needs to take an interest in itself before there can be any sort of steps toward equality.

At this crucial point in time, I can't help but think of the monk who placed the Gnostic texts in that jar. He was hiding what he hoped was the future. Gnosticism teaches self-knowledge as a route to God. Those thoughts, those ideas, they were what he held to be true and from those texts he drew conclusions about life and the people that shared the world around him. I believe that there are many kinds of love, but if things continue as they are, perhaps I'd be wise to place my copy of Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" in a jar and bury it in the backyard.

David Bussard is a former Clear Spring resident attending school in New York.

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