Feb 1, 2009

Misogyny and Gay Rights: ¨Part of the resistance to gay equal rights is ultimately about the beginning of the end of patriarchy¨ Bishop V.G. Robinson

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Out/Partnered Gay Bishop, The Episcopal Church, Diocese of New Hampshire, U.S.A.

Gay Religion Blogspot Editor's note: The following article originally ran in The Blade's Nov. 14, 2007, issue. We are reprinting it here as part of our Jan. 23 Politics & Religion special issue. Robinson recently gave one of the invocations at the opening celebration of President Obama's inauguration. read it all, click here:

Middle Collegiate Church's annual Pride and Passion conference explored the volatile intersection of homosexuality and theology. The East Village church's two-day event, which included workshops and lectures, couldn't have been more timely. The same week in November, thousands of New Yorkers protested a local Mormon church and rallied against California's gay marriage ban Proposition 8.

As the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, New Hampshire's V. Gene Robinson knows first-hand the religious wrath often directed at the LGBT community. His 2003 election has split the national church.

"Even nonreligious people have to deal with religion on the issue of LGBTI rights [the 'I' stands for 'intersex']," he said. "In no other civil rights movement that I know of has scripture played such a roll. We ignore that at our own peril."

Middle Collegiate Church—part of the Reformed Church of America—has long embraced its LGBTI congregants. "We also have classes about human sexuality," said the Rev. Jacqui Lewis, the church's senior minister. "We talk about faith and sexuality because we think it's a gift from God."

At Middle Collegiate Church, Robinson delivered a talk titled "Dancing in the Temple: Why Religion Matters in Our Fight for Equality," and he engaged in an hour-long Q&A session and also spoke with The Blade. The following excerpts—in his words—are highlighted topics from the bishop's exchanges.

Misogyny and Gay Rights. Part of the resistance to gay equal rights is ultimately about the beginning of the end of patriarchy. The connections between misogyny and heterosexism are astounding. The classic defense against gay bashing is, "He made a pass at me." Can you imagine if we locked up every man who ever made a pass at a woman? But if you treat another man as a woman, well, we take a baseball bat to your head.

A very common thing in the ancient world when one army conquered another was raping and pillaging. But the raping was of another man—one of the most degrading things you could do to a man was treat him like a woman.

In the Leviticus passage [thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind], the sin seems to be for the man to allow himself to be treated as a woman. There seems to be evidence that the insertive partner did not receive the same punishment.

Homophobia vs. Heterosexism. I almost never use the term homophobia. Most people understand phobias as fears. And a lot of people say they don't fear us at all—they just hate us. What we are really talking about is heterosexism. Let's review what an "–ism" is: prejudice plus power. Racism is when white people set the system up to benefit themselves at the expense of others. What I like about using the word heterosexism is that it puts responsibility where it belongs.

The Opposite of Love. One of the principles I operate on is that the opposite of love is not hate, it's fear. I try to remember that [anti-gay people] are coming from a place of fear. The more hateful they sound, the more fearful they are. What I try to do with detractors is figure out what it is they're afraid of.¨

Thanks to Gay Religious Blog (at the right sidebar)
Thanks to The New York Blade
Thanks to Flickr Photosharing


FranIAm said...

Thanks to you for posting this and for always having such great things here. I have missed you when I was otherwise occupied.

And how great to see Tim at the top of your blog. I have come to believe, as has he, that he and I are brother and sister, separated at birth!

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Hi Fran!

Isn´t Tim a wonder? Just like you...you´re a duodouble dose of wonderment!

Thanks for being here...I love it when you stop in...you add so much to the ¨spirit¨ of the place.


Cany said...

On this:

"What I like about using the word heterosexism is that it puts responsibility where it belongs."


The term should be used always. Me likey for all the [right] reasons.

GREAT post.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

"prejudice plus power"

So true - and it n e e d s to be Named!

There is also the small matter of a bunch of forged text (12th century, Paris)...

Cany said...

Goran: (sorry, I don't have a key to make the little dots (what are those called?) over the o in your name.)

Heh. What's a little forgery among, um, friends, right?

Lynn said...

Heterosexism. Perfect!

I think most of us understand how our anger can be based on fear. Yes, I can see how it could tie into hate in fear's extreme expression. As always, our wonderful Bishop Gene manages to find love and forgiveness.

Thanks for posting this, Leonardo.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...


They are no little dots, but part of a special letter, the last of the Alphabet which ends: å ä, ö.

Å is a prolonged -a-, this happened in the 15th century generally. Danish still spells it -aa- sometimes. ä is ae and ö is a mixt sound like the "e" in Mercury, or the "u" in nurture...

So it's its own vowel, sound.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I cut and past whenever I have to use a letter, which is not on the board, so to speak ;=)

Fred Schwartz said...

No one is free as long as one of us is in chains.

Terrific post Leonardo! Once again you paint with words as effectively as any other of your mediums(?).