aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Emerging evangelical moderation?
Probably not. But with two Colorado Megachurch pastors revealed as gay, some church members are beginning to wonder:
Coming out just one month after prominent evangelical leader Ted Haggard resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations that he had paid a former male prostitute for sex, Barnes has sparked discussions over the Church’s attitude toward homosexuals.
“We (evangelicals) may have talked about the evils of homosexuality in attempts to justify our position and not been as evenhanded or fair in representing the homosexual community as we should have been,” Craig Willford, president of Denver Seminary, told the Post. “At times, we have probably over-generalized the lifestyle and made villains out of people who live in homosexuality.”
Meanwhile, in Alabama:
Walk into Covenant Community Church of Birmingham, Alabama, on a Sunday morning, and you’ll see a scene reminiscent of any other evangelical church across the state. The sanctuary is crowded with congregants greeting each other before the service. The minister chats with the deacons, the organist arranges his music on the stand, and children escape their parent’s grasp momentarily to run up and down the aisles. But Covenant is unlike most churches in Alabama. Its pastor, J.R. Finney II, is gay. So are most of its congregants. Founded in 1981 with 12 members in an unmarked storefront, today Finney preaches to a flock of 350 in a two-building complex that can barely contain the congregation’s growing numbers. And, while Covenant is the largest gay church in the state, it is not alone. From major cities like Montgomery and Huntsville to working-class towns like Gadsden, gay-led, gay-founded churches are flourishing in the heart of the conservative South, providing gay Alabamans with a supportive environment in which to worship. Across the state, there are six gay-focused churches, and even more “open and affirming” Episcopal, Unitarian, and United Church of Christ congregations.
Yet these churches represent more than the spiritual side of Alabama’s gay community; they act as its political center. Since 1969, when the rebellion at New York’s Stonewall Inn gave rise to the modern gay rights movement, gay communities across the country have fought for equal rights mostly through secular organizations. But, in Alabama, where 78 percent of residents identify themselves as born-again Christians, these churches are at the forefront of the gay rights movement. [...]
To be sure, secular organizations contribute greatly to Alabama’s gay rights movement. Equality Alabama reaches 2,000 people through its e-mail list and has experience lobbying the legislature that the churches lack. But, with just a handful of gay-friendly representatives in the state parliament, its influence is limited. In Alabama, where there are more than 8,000 same-sex couples--four times the number in Vermont, which became the first state to grant civil unions in 2000--the fundamental problem is invisibility. “I had my own legislator tell me there were no gay people in his district,” Fontaine says. According to one Covenant member, “Many [gay] people still believe what they were taught--that we’re unworthy of God’s love and that we’re second-class citizens.”
The church, however, convinced fellow church member Luwanna Rhodes to speak up. “Several years ago, I never thought I would be political,” she says. “But as I’ve grown spiritually and realized that God is OK with who I am, I can be a voice for people that are not able to come out.” With that mustard seed, a new kind of gay activism is taking root across the state of Alabama.
NBC: No gay Heroes
An article on AfterElton.com by Brian Juergens prompted an NBC publicist to notify readers that Zach, Thomas Dekker’s character on the NBC show Heroes, is not gay. The article theorizes that either Dekker’s management or NBC itself pulled the plug on any story lines that would involve addressing Zach’s sexual orientation.
The network has come under fire for portraying the character as a gay teen in a small town, specifically on his MySpace Web page where he declares his sexual orientation as “not sure.”
Zach is the sidekick to Texas high school cheerleader Claire Bennet, played by Hayden Panettiere. He seems relatively unphased by his peers’ gay-baiting but never admits to being gay or straight.
The show’s creator, Tom Kring, responded in an e-mail to the claims, saying that he regrets that the character seemed to be gay because he is not.
“We apologize for misleading the audience and wish that we could have handled things better on our end,” Kring wrote. “But making a TV show is often a very imprecise business. As you stated, Heroes is a big sprawling drama, and there is no reason to believe that a gay character will not be represented on our show in the future. It is my hope that if we do, we do it with honesty and dignity. That will certainly be our attempt.”
From the AfterElton.com post:
An NBC publicist told AfterElton in a phone conversation that Zach “is not gay”, that it was something that was “for sure” and “in all certainty.” AfterElton contacted NBC for confirmation after being told by Thomas Dekker’s management (Dekker plays Zach), the character of Zach is absolutely straight.
For those that have followed the show closely and taken even a cursory look at NBC’s marketing efforts around the show (which have repeatedly insinuated, implied and led most viewers to believe that the character is gay), this is interesting-and troubling-news. READ ON
Via Gay News Blog.
Holiday drinking. And driving.
I’m on record as believing that the drinking age should be lowered. Last night’s conversation with my nieces and nephews could call that belief into question, if not for the fact that they’re all of age.
The tales they tell! But then, it was revealed, I have some of my own.
So this morning my niece sent this:
If you need any more reasons not to drink and drive, consider this: A driving-under-the-influence conviction is a financial wrecking ball. A typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, even if you didn’t hit anything or hurt anybody.
The penalties are intended to be discouraging. Alcohol played a role in nearly 40% of U.S. automobile fatalities in 2005. That’s 16,885 deaths, a figure nearly unchanged over the past decade, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hardly a statistician, I don’t know, does that mean things have gotten somewhat better because there are more people on the road so fewer deaths per capita? Per mile driven? Whatever, it doesn’t sound good.
Living in NYC, I would get in a cab or take the subway. Now I’m always the designated driver and most everyone in my peer-group designates one too. But it doesn’t look to me like the problem is age, or that financial and criminal penalties are working.
I’d be likely to support ignition interlock breath alcohol devices required - like seat belts and air bags - on all vehicles. Requiring them only of those convicted is too little too late, will lead to more innocent pleas (and more rich lawyers) and more poor people convicted.
The pervasiveness of the devices will improve their performance, drop the price, and reveal to the medicated teetotaler that they shouldn’t be on the roads either.
32” flat panel HDTV
I want one. $500 is my price point (remember, I live on a state salary). We’re getting darned close!
Guns & bloggers
Digby’s commentary from last night - “you have idiots making policy about things of which they don’t even have a basic understanding” - concludes with this important juxtaposition. From CNet:
Cathy Milhoan, an FBI spokeswoman, said on Friday that the FBI “continues to support data retention. We see it as crucial in advancing our cyber investigations to include online sexual exploitation of children.”
Other data,though, not so much. Remember this?
March 8, 2005
Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.
People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.
The G.A.O. study offers the first full-scale examination of the possible dangers posed by gaps in the law, Congressional officials said, and it concludes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ‘’could better manage’’ its gun-buying records in matching them against lists of suspected terrorists.
F.B.I. officials maintain that they are hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records because of concerns over the privacy rights of gun owners.
LATER: James Joyner says the requirement is hardly an onerous one; Red State sees it as an attempt to score some cheap points with the GOP base.