For the Bible Tells Me So

For the Bible Tells Me So is an excellent documentary!!

Did you know that every five hours an LGBT teen takes their own life? And for every teen that actually does take their own life, there are 20 more that try? The suicide hotline says that one of the top five reasons people claim they want to commit suicide is for religious reasons. These people claim there is no place for them and God. (My daughter recently had a friend “come out” to her. She said she had tried to tell her mother but that her mother freaked out so she immediately said she was joking.)

Historically, it has been extremely easy to get people to internalize judgment and condemnation. Also, when people are afraid, they have to find scape goats. If you can scape goat people who have internalized judgment and condemnation, you’ve got it made and it becomes very easy to use the Bible as an effective weapon. It becomes an excuse to hate.

It does make me wonder – maybe the Romans were right to say that only the few should interpret the Bible – that the Bible, in the hands of the wrong people, would become dangerous.

Transamerica (2005)

Transamerica has a lever story line – one week from her sex-change operation to become a woman, Bree, discovers she has fathered a son. Kind of soap opera-ish, but fun.

The film referred to “Two-spirit” in Native American thought claiming that transgendered people had no worries in the Americas until the settlers came in with their patriarchal mentality. It also said the Zulu people revered transgendered individuals. I’d never heard of Two-spirit so looked it up tonight.

Apparently, this is a legitimate claim. It is a term that has recently been taken over by the LGBT communities. But it did exist in many of the tribes in North America. The Lakota had a ceremony during the Sun Dance that could only be performed by Two-spirits. Two-spirits often held very specific roles: healers, conveyor of oral traditions, naming of children (it was considered to lucky in some tribes to have your child named by a “two spirit”). The modern day homophobia within Native Americans is considered by anthropologists to be of European influence.

I looked up the Zulus, too, and they do have a tradition of placing transgendered individuals in the role of Isangomas – diviners. It seems that tribes all over the world have held transgendered individuals in a place of deep respect.

The Celluloid Closet (1995)

The Celluloid Closet is about the influence Hollywood has had on our views about homosexuality.

It was fascinating!

According to the film, there is no greater sin than being a woman. Throughout time immemorial (well – at least the past 90 years or so), a woman has been allowed to dress like a man and that’s been seen as OK. But if a man dresses like a woman, that’s a different baby altogether. So it’s no surprise that as women gain “equality”, homosexuality in men is becoming less and less of a big deal. It’s never been that big of a deal in women.

In the 1920s, homosexuality was displayed frequently in films – but gay men always provided the comic element. Homosexuality wasn’t taken seriously at all. By the 1930s, the government had cracked down on what films could and could not do and enforced some very strict censorship – a long list of things that could not be in films which included “sexual perversion”. So if you were a screenwriter and wanted to display any sort of homosexuality, you had to do so discretely and between the lines so that it would get through the censors. In order to do this, homosexuals were almost always displayed as cold-hearted villains.

Interesting side note – the censorship rules during this time period prohibited the display of white slavery although black slavery was allowed.

By the 1950s, homosexuality was allowed to be displayed in films, but lesbians were always behind bars, and homosexual men in movies were instructed on how not to be homosexual. They were reformed and taught how to walk like a man, talk like a man, and (presumably) have sex like a man.

In the 1960s, British films were openly portraying gays in a straightforward way and often as victims of society. This empowered American film makers to begin busting through taboos created by American censorship. Homosexuality was displayed much more openly. However, it was typically displayed as something people did not want to be a part of because it would inevitably end in disaster – very often suicide. So resist at all costs lest you want to die.

In the 1970s, gay men were finally displayed as being able to be gay without something horrible happening to them in the end. However, they were typically displayed as miserable and bitchy which was likely born out of the low self-esteem most homosexuals felt in the 1970s since homosexuality was still classified as a form of mental illness and basic homosexual acts were still considered illegal.

Another interesting side note – it was thought to be more acceptable to cast black men in gay roles than white men.

The 1980s brought an ugly retaliation. The homosexual went from victim to victimizer. With the homosexual as villain, everybody could cheer both the death of the villain and the homosexual. A lot of the films during this time period inspired some pretty ugly gay-bashing.

Another little interesting side-note – “faggot” in films started getting used in the same way “nigger” did in earlier films.

The 1990s was much more open – depicting homosexuality for the first time ever in a non-apologetic way. And that’s where the film ends – about 1995.

Have we moved forward or backward since then?

Southern Comfort (2001)

I am sometimes completely and totally amazed by the DVDs I find at my local library – especially since we still live in what is considered to be small-town Texas (although it is growing extremely fast). Obviously, our library tries to be diverse. Southern Comfort is  another film I likely would never have known about except through the library. Gotta love the library!

By the end of this film, I was a complete and total wreck, requiring lots and lots of kleenex.

The story is about transgendered people living in the rural south. Gay people are treated better than are transgendered folk and gay people aren’t treated particularly well in the south. Even in Austin, which is considered to be quite liberal, you hear about gays being beat up on a fairly regular basis in the high schools. Once upon a time it was all about racisim, and some ugly racial issues persist. But by far the ugliest prejudice today is aimed at the gay, and especially the transgendered, community.

Specifically, the film follows Robert Eads, a male who used to be female and is ironically dying of ovarian cancer – the one part of him that is still female is the part that is killing him. When he was first diangosed, he was turned down for treatment by two dozen doctors, several which told him in no uncertain terms that they wouldn’t treat him because he would hurt their practice – he’d be an embarrassment. So by the time he is treated, the cancer is too far advanced to do anything about it. He says what makes him the most sad is that when he dies, people will believe that how they treated him was “the right thing” based upon their Christian beliefs. He struggles to stay alive so that he can give a speech at the world’s largest transgendered conference, Southern Comfort, which takes places yearly in Atlanta, Georgia.

His girl friend, who is also transgendered, very poingantly states – “what a curious thing to be uptight about. Nature delights in diversity. Why not humanity?”

Good question. What makes people so fearful and hateful toward that which is different than themselves?

It just doesn’t make any sense to me and never has. Diversity is beautiful. Why would we want everyone to be the same?