Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Homophobia creating pathological behavior.

I recently read on Dan Vera's blog:

The conservative writer Andrew Sullivan ticks me off at times (too long to go into detail here) but he does hit the nail on the head at times:

If the Foley incident is not about pedophilia, it is also not, it seems to me, about homosexuality. It's fundamentally about the closet. The closet is so psychologically destructive it often produces pathological behavior. When you compartmentalize your life, you sometimes act out in one compartment in ways that you would never condone in another one. Think Clinton-Lewinsky, in a heterosexual context. But closeted gay men are particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. Your psyche is so split by decades of lies and deceptions and euphemisms that integrity and mental health suffer. No one should excuse Foley's creepy interactions; they are inexcusable, as is the alleged cover-up (although we shouldn't jump to conclusions yet about who knew what when). But there's a reason gay men in homophobic institutions behave in self-destructive ways.

Or think of it another way: what do the Vatican and the RNC have in common? Here's one potential list: entrenched homophobia, psychologically damaged closet cases, inappropriate behavior toward teens and minors ... and cover-ups designed entirely to retain power.

The parallels are looking a little creepy. And the source is the same.

To which I responded:

I can't say I like this. Let's not forget all the issues about which Vatican DISSAGREES with Republicans. Of course Sullivan has a right to comment, but I think he should brush up on his psychology first. He comes to some pretty grandiose unstudied conclusions here. Do you really believe this? Being part of an intensely homophobic institution some how messes you up, and inspires you to do such naughty things? I don't.

To which Bo of WhiteCrane responded:

"John Mark, I have to say I really don't understand YOUR response here. I find nothing grandiose in Sullivan's conclusions...they're fairly obvious, if anything. And believe it? What's not to believe? That there isn't entrenched homophobia in the Catholic Church? In the Republican Party? That either aren't teeming with psychologically damaged closet cases? Surely not that there hasn't been inappropriate behavior with teens and minors. And when it comes to cover ups designed entirely to retain power, the Catholic Church wrote the book...and, let's be honest here, not just when speaking of inappropriate sexual activities."

Actually Bo, in my response, when I was talking about "Grandiose Conclusions." I was referring to Sullivan's conclusion that intensely homophobic institutions create closet case sociopaths. There are a whole lot of people who (most unfortunately) live much of their lives in the closet. They don't lust after little boys or flirt with teenagers online. If and when they do come out (thank god!) a hefty majority of them live completely normal gay lives - not being sociopaths or sexual predators. I guess I don't like the "homophobic institution + gay man = sexual predators" assumption. I also don't think it's fair for you or Sullivan to say that either the Roman Catholic Church or the Republican Party (may they be destroyed) are teaming with psychologically damaged closet-cases. I don't know the GOP but I DO know the catholic church, and I think for every gay priest who becomes a sexual predator as a result of being a closetcase, there are probably another 200 gay priests who struggle with their sexuality no more than the straight ones. I'm not defending the celibacy requirement - I'm just observing the church where it is at now.

"Looking for where the Catholic Church "disagrees" with the Republican Church, er, Party, is disingenuous and a red herring argument. Who cares where they disagree so long as they're continuing to work hand-in-hand for the suppression of sexuality, Nature, Gay people and women (to name just a few of their shared targets)? Where they disagree might be a subject of mild intellectual interest, but as a practical matter they're in collusion and it doesn't take a Freudian rocket scientist to see it. Sometimes a big thick rocket, you know...I venture to say you sound curiously like an unrecovered and therefore defensive Catholic (or is it Republican? Or is it both?) to my ear...Perhaps a little self study might be in order?"

It's funny, Bo, that I know so much about you, but you know so little about myself. I am a cradle democrat Roman Catholic (remember, there was a time when most Catholics were all democrats, now it is split down the middle), who holds a lot of hope for the church. For me being Catholic is such a part of my identity, so much that to renounce it would be to renounce my Irish or German heritage. Does a liberal southerner renounce and reject beloved ancestors because they were racist, or does he accept them for what there worth and work for change and open-mindedness in the world? Hopefully the latter. I work for the church, and even though I'm considering leaving the church for better job security, I will never be able to get rid of my religious heritage. There is a reason that most "fallen away" Methodists, when asked, won't say "I don't go to church but I used to be a Methodist", where as a catholic would say "I'm catholic but I don't go to church anymore."

Fortunately for me, I was not raised with "catholic baggage" and never felt oppressed and forced into the closet by my family's religious beliefs. I approached Catholicism from a different place, which somehow manages to paint the picture much clearer. It allows me to see the church, as a diverse collection of people who have G-d within them, just as he abides in me. The people of god are the church, and thus the bride of Christ, not the pope (although I'd love to see him in wedding drag). I don't fight the church, I challenge the hierarchy which is clearly not "the church".

Are you honestly contending that being a part of an intensely homophobic institution DOESN'T mess you up? Can't mess you up? Would never inspire (and I'm not sure that's the right word choice...more like "infect") you to do naughty things? Really? Are you kidding? Ever? Does the term "herd mentality" mean anything to you? You know, like "the flock" and "sheep"? I think it's grandiose to excuse it. And possibly a little self-serving.

I would admit that a being part of a homophobic institution can mess one up, but it doesn't NECESSARILY nor abundantly. Psychological disorders happen across the bored in every community.

The Catholic Church hasn't infected me, or messed me up in any negative way. I hold it close to my heart. This isn't like holding the republican party close to one's heart. I see my church as being heavily faulted, but all together focussed on love and service. I see the most republicans as selfish, close-minded bigots.
I've had a largely possitive experience with Catholicism. I think anyone can have that experience if they focus on the localized, ritual actions that take place, and worry less about the politics of the Roman Curia.

People who know me, would know that I have issues when people make generalizations, especially when they make them with express certainty. That really bothers me, from a liberal or a conservative.