Whilst the above meme is an amusing response to crazy preachers, it also has a tragic element to it.
The rainbow community has been used as the scapegoat and blamed for a whole range of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and bushfires by Christian conservatives for decades. So it comes as no surprise that some preachers are declaring the current COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic as the judgment of God.
- Ralph Drollinger, who has led Bible study for Trump cabinet members, suggested the virus was an instrument of divine judgment, and appeared to blame LGBTQ people. Later he said he’d been taken out of context.
- In the UK, John Carson a DUP councillor has claimed, the coronavirus is God’s judgement after Northern Ireland legalised abortion and same-sex marriage. Tennessee Pastor Perry Stone, blamed the spread of coronavirus on marriage equality, abortion access, and the Democratic Party. “Both of their laws – biblically in Leviticus and Deuteronomy – are what God calls an abomination[….] There will be a time when the Lord says, ‘Enough is enough.’”
- Evangelical radio host, Rick Wiles, celebrating the coronavirus death of a prominent LGBT, New York lawyer, Richard Weber Jr, 57, said, “There is a judgment, I’m telling you, a plague is underway. Get under the blood of Jesus Christ. Do not be in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ and his church!”
Of course the above is only a selection of conservative “Christian” insensitivity and judgemental statements.
A Pandemic – a not so gay memory
The LGBTQ community is not only familiar with this sort of appalling ignorance and condemnation from religious conservatives in Abrahamic religions, but is also very familiar with the impacts of a pandemic. In the 1980s, AIDS devastated the gay community, and gay men, young and old were getting sick, and not long after, dying. I had one friend who said he stopped going to funerals after the 17th. In America alone, in the first 20 years, 450,000 died of AIDS and over 1 million had been infected. I wasn’t around during those traumatic times but after coming out in 1992, I vividly remember the pages of obituaries and memoriam notices in the weekly gay press.
Some of you remember these times only too well, and others reading this, only know of it as a piece of history.
The LGBTQ community and individuals developed a resilience to fight on against stigma and prejudice and unwilling politicians and governments who either ignored or were slow to act on the growing pandemic.
Not all are resilient though. In fact, these unprecedented times are creating more stress for some LGBTQ people.
People are locked away with their thoughts and issues. I know that when I was in the ministry, that keeping busy was one of my ways of not having to think about being gay. It seems this time when people have the usual props taken away that they are alone with their internal conflicts.
I’ve had a number of emails in the last weeks from closeted gay married men. One, who’s been married for 20 something years, with children writes “I have listened to Sy Rogers story many times, believed it and considered it the only way forward. I am not healed, it has not ‘gone away’ as I was told. And I feel constantly stuck and lost and unloved by anyone. I am stuck between a rock and the grave and I often feel that I should just end it before I make a fatal error and condemn myself to hell.”
Another finished off his email with: “I really don’t know what (or how) I could ever tell my wife and children, and then I can’t even imagine how my very strict parents and family will take it. I hear people talk about some gays being in the closet. I feel like I’m in a coffin – dead if I stay in and dead if I come out.”
Other young people who have lost jobs and income have had to return home to religious homophobic parents. Sam, 23, says “My mum says that homosexuality is an evil disease and that the devil is making me gay. She loudly prays every day that I’ll be delivered from sin and find a wife. I genuinely have nowhere else to go during this mad time, so I’m just putting up with the abuse.”
We are so very grateful for our #ABBIfamily who support us, so we can offer support during these challenging times.
I’m sure you already aware of what you personally need to do during this time but if not there is an excellent, very comprehensive resource created by ACON HERE
In the meantime, #StayHome, #StaySafe #BeWell