08 April 2006

AWOL from "Allies" ?

Went to a great morning of LGBT ally training facilitated by some third years here at seminary, their brainchild out of a project for their pastoral leadership class. One attendee of the training made a comment that hit me to the core.

"Following this military metaphor we're using today, let's think not only of our allies but also our enemies..."

I was struck. If I call myself an ally, am I invoking a military mindset and language that contradicts my own commitment to nonviolence?

In college, I was introduced to living as an ally through KU's Q&A organization. My boyfriend's mother was an out lesbian, living with her partner, and I learned a lot those years about sexuality and orientation. When my bishop called for a diocesan task force for human relationships (read: sexuality) I served and heard quite the spectrum of feelings and theological positions on issues of sexuality. Now in the Bay Area, I carry with me the reality of the Midwest, where the hand-holding of two men always leaves a wake of eye-rolling, jeers, and or threats from the beds of pick-up trucks. This was a place where my hairy legs outed me in the minds of classmates, teachers, priests, and friends. Just last week when I went home for Spring Break without my husband, more than one person asked me if Matt and I were "still getting along" since I wasn't traveling with him! People just talk. A lot. As one seminary colleague pointed out to me, the talking takes many forms. In Atlanta, for instance, you might out someone by whispering, "Did you hear about so-and-so? Bless his heaaaaaaaaart." All this time in the midwest, I tried by word and deed to self-identify as an "ally."

Now, though, I'm taking another look. What else might I call myself that isn't reminiscent of the current U.S.-Britian collaboration in Iraq? I've thought enough about military in our culture to know that using the language and imagery of that institution is a way of consenting to it. If I'm an "ally," am i in a war? How does thinking of advocacy in terms of war constrict the flow of compassion in the process?

PS: I'm a Talent.

I'm a Talent!

You're a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You're determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You're not afraid of a fight, and you're not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you're already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you're not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 67%
Lifer: 26%
Mandarin: 51%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.


Blogger LutheranChik said...

Hmmm...I'm not sure that "enemies" are necessary in order to be an ally...on the other hand, I had people in the Christian Reconstructionist movement tell me online that they were hoping for a revolution in this country that would bring their coreligionists to power, the better to institute Old Testament punishments for "sins," including capital punishment for homosexuality. This person wasn't joking. He was threatening me, and obviously relishing the thought of my being publicly executed someday. Kind of sounds like an enemy to me.

BTW, thank you for being an ally!

3:23 PM  
Blogger mikey said...

i am a lifer. does that make me boring?

8:45 AM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Even if there aren't enemies, there are always challenges. There are some things that we can do better, more effectively, with peers, or colleagues, or allies. No, all the things we fight against don't have to be enemies. Some, like disease, are simply facts; and against those allies it's still good to have allies. Especially in the Midwest!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Er, "against those facts" or "against those challenges." I'm tired.

8:06 PM  

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