Have you checked out "Our America with Lisa Ling?" I caught a commercial for the show, was intrigued, and added it to my DVR list. It's on Oprah's network. Honestly, doesn't Oprah get just a little sick of herself? Sure, name a magazine after yourself. And a talk show. But a whole network? I worry that she may be eyeing some forlorn unnamed planet in some neighboring solar system next. Anyway, I digress. I find the "Our America" series interesting because Lisa Ling seems to have come up with a few topics that haven't already been beaten to death in a hundred other ways.
The recent "Pray the Gay Away" episode all but broke my heart (and the episode about sex offenders living in the woods made it a little queasy). The "Pray the Gay Away" show featured a camp for kids who are gay but also Christian. I'm aware that many believe that being gay and being Christian are mutually exclusive. It saddened me to see and hear what these teens had been through in the past. So much pressure to be . . . anything-but-gay. One kid made a really valid point, which is that if he lies about who he is, isn't that also a sin? In a really moving moment, one of the camp leaders held up a mirror in front of each teen and said, "You are a child of God." He encouraged them to look at themselves and know that they were not a mistake, not defective. The point was also made that there are something like six verses in the Bible that decry homosexuality. Why there is so much focus on those few lines is a bit of a head-scratcher. The book of Leviticus prohibits homosexuality, but also the consumption of shellfish. The Red Lobster in my neighborhood seems to be doing just fine. For me, the Bible (both old and new testament) is an amazing religious text, full of allegorical tales and lessons. Even today, there is still much to be learned from Jesus' example. I think most Christians believe that wholeheartedly. I suppose it's just some small percentage that have appointed themselves to interpret and uphold those six verses (perhaps completely out of context?).
An organization called Exodus was also heavily featured in the "Our America" program. Exodus operates on the belief that homosexuality is a choice, and provides counseling in an attempt to help confused folks make . . . the right choice, I suppose. Other folks featured: a man who helped found Exodus but later felt he'd made a mistake (and now lives with his male partner in a domestic partnership that he describes as being too ordinary to be noteworthy), a man who runs Exodus currently and feels confident that he no longer has homosexual tendencies, and a young guy named Christian who was struggling mightily with who he is and who he thinks he should be. Christian's story was also heartbreaking (at least to me). He fit every gay stereotype out there but was undergoing counseling with a pastor and said he hoped to marry a woman someday (even while admitting that he is generally not attracted to women).
I sent a text message to a close friend of mine who does happen to be gay. I told him about the show I was watching and joked that he could try praying his gay away. He replied, "Away to where? Why should my gay get the day off while I'm stuck here? Thanks, but count me out . . . " I laughed and was reminded, once again, why he is one of my oldest and dearest friends.
If you know me or have read my blog, you've probably gleaned the fact that I am fairly liberal, in both my political and religious views. If my daughter remembers nothing else about my parenting style when she is an adult, I hope she'll say that she was never afraid to tell me anything about herself. Granted, I will give her a hard time if she does something dumb like tattoo the letters B-E-E-R across her knuckles or something, but I hope she will always know that I love her fiercely and will always support her. Disney movies have taught her that girls only marry princes (and not other princesses), but I'm not too worried either way. I'm more concerned about the fact that she doesn't really like chocolate chip cookies (talk about a defect!)
It looks like the entire "Our America" episode is available online - check it out if you're interested.