Easter Sunday. A gorgeous, sunny morn- ing. The cool breeze reminds me that it is April, but the sun makes me hear the birds chirping, the trees reflourishing; warmth and life is once again renewed.
I celebrated mass as a performer with Aquinas House this morning, playing with the church orchestra. The message of the sermon was one of faith, love and renewal. The priest reminded us of discriminations of the past, and the “ethnic cleansing” that is on every news headline as of late. He compared this “ethnic cleansing” with one 50 years ago. He talked of the meaning of the word catholic: “Catholic means universal, and this service and this church was open to all people — to every woman and man on God’s green earth.” He encouraged us to embrace the diversity of all human beings. I never felt more proud of my faith as a Catholic than after this mass.
Now I was trying to keep my priorities straight, because although this was Easter, I also had my obligations to fulfill. I had homework, and this term I am EDPA, SAPA, and also secretary for the DRA. One of my tasks this morning was to check the DRA mailbox. The experience has made me reasonably unsettled — to the point where all I can do is write this article.
This morning I found a letter with “Crusade for Christ” scribbled as the return address awaiting in the DRA mailbox. It was a pamphlet, sent to the secretary of the DRA. Entitled “Doom Town: The Story of Sodom,” the pamphlet was emblazoned with a skull and crossbones on the front cover.
I realize that this pamphlet could have been sent from any source. In no way did I assume this was from the Campus Crusade for Christ. My concern is to address the existence of such a pamphlet, the content of the pamphlet and the circumstances in which it was received.
The booklet is formatted as a raunchy and vulgar comic book. It throws around extraordinarily ignorant views about homosexuals, gay men in particular. It segregates AIDS as a gay plague, and even ventures as far to suggest that gay men, by donating blood, are trying to “infect our nation’s blood supply with AIDS.” The booklet says gay men are trying to be “Cold-blooded murderers.” And all of this on the first page.
The pamphlet gives a skewed view of the story of Sodom, Abraham, and Lot. It shows men participating in promiscuous and gruesome sexual activity, including rape and child molestation.
The booklet ends with a modern gay rights activist who is converted by the story. He says “I became a modern day Sodomite because my teachers said it was a harmless alternative lifestyle. They lied through their teeth and now I’m damned to hell.” It beckons the gay man to pray for Jesus because all gay men are sinners and need salvation. On the back cover, the emblem of Chick Publications, a California based company. As quoted from the publications website (www.chick.com), “The Story of Sodom delivers a compassionate plea to repent of homosexuality.”
I see nothing compassionate about this pamphlet. The hateful nature of this mailing was not what I wanted on this day. Not on a day signifying love, renewed life, and acceptance for all people. I asked myself, “Shouldn’t I be sitting at home with my family or here with friends, coloring eggs and eating chocolate bunnies?” Doom Town made my “traditional” Easter celebration impossible — how can I rejoice when someone thinks God has damned gays? The use of “alternative lifestyle” also assumes sexuality as a matter of choice … “I became a modern day Sodomite because my teachers said it was a harmless alternative lifestyle.”
I have never met a GLBT student who has said that she/he chose this alternative lifestyle because a teacher said it was okay. The idea sounds so ludicrous to me. And the term “alternative lifestyle” suggests as if there is a norm, and then there is a choice-based alternative. I don’t buy that. Being GLBT is not a choice, and it is certainly nothing that needs to be repented or corrected. It’s a matter of wanting to share love; Being true to one’s “God-given” and natural self.
These cartoons of lewd men having promiscuous sex is NOT the gay lifestyle. I don’t think that this display of perversion was even remotely mentioned in the Bible; Whoever drew these comics has taken assumptions about gay culture and used his/her own mind to pervert it to the point of complete smut.
This pamphlet has reiterated all of the ignorant stereotypes that I have ever heard about gay culture: that gay men are all carrying AIDS, that AIDS is a gay plague, that gay men are promiscuous, that gay men are sinners, that gay men molest children and animals, and most of all that gayness is a choice that is sinful and something to be redeemed from. And for all of this to be at Dartmouth, and addressed to me today.
This is for whoever is behind this mailing:
Please open your eyes. I don’t want to be seeing skull and crossbones, not today. I don’t want to have my friends and family to be told what they are. I don’t want to be told what I am. Most of all, please don’t use Christ as a symbol of damnation, separation, death and sin.
My Easter (my first Easter away from my family) has been blasphemed and mocked by this mailing. I can only thank this beautiful morning of renewal, life and tolerance for the strength to write this letter. Christ to me, especially today, is life and tolerance.
I am angry. Try to realize how this mailing hurts me, my friends, my family, my Christ and my God. The pamphlet was not designed to heal, to convert or to redeem — it was specifically designed to instill fear, to target, to segregate and hate. This mailing is a persecution. It is obscene that these images of hatred and hostility can even BEGIN to be associated with God, the Bible or Christianity. My Easter Sunday will never be the same, the way I have been hurt today. My Easter Sunday.
After all of this pain, I feel like I have had a rebirth of my own. I have a rejuvenated faith in my religion, in being a tolerant individual, and in being open and able to celebrate this day. I just couldn’t let this event bring another “ethnic cleansing” to Dartmouth.