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Monday, March 4, 2024

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LGBTQSupreme Court caps off Pride month with a slap...

Supreme Court caps off Pride month with a slap of bigotry

I can't believe we've gone so far backwards that we have to care what Christians think of us again.

Almost exactly eight years ago, right before 2015 San Francisco Pride unfurled along Market Street in a giddy stream of fabulous wedding gowns and showers of eco-friendly confetti, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges: Same-sex marriage was now legal throughout the land.

Much has happened since then—about half a million gay couples got married, for one, in a halcyon period that might soon become known as a bubble of fortune in the long history of LGBTQ+ setbacks. In the past year alone, amid historic backlash that saw actual Nazis show up to children’s book readings and immigrant communities become weaponized against rainbow flags, more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures. Red state governors have gone on a merciless tear to deny trans kids life-saving medical treatment. The recent overturn of Roe v Wade threatens same-sex marriage. LGBTQ+ books (like my own) are being banned in school libraries. The US is facing an internal refugee crisis as families flee discriminatory hotspots. Pride itself is being deceitfully recast as “grooming.”

Now, in a case that was almost entirely made up out of imaginary Christian victimization—and, as former Bay Guardian columnist Melissa Gira Grant reported, is backed up by false documentation—the Supreme Court has rendered its verdict in the latest assault on LGBTQ+ rights. According to Friday’s 6-3 decision along ideological lines in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, it is legal for a Christian-owned business to refuse a creative service (like building a wedding website) to same-sex couples because they business believe that violates its spiritual beliefs. This despite the fact that Colorado, where the trifling web designer is located, has a law specifically to prevent such discrimination—so much for that whole States’ Rights canard.

That this is not the first major discriminatory decision released this session makes it truly tragic, and underlines how much Black and Brown queer people are having to deal with right now.

Longtime queer rights activist Michelangelo Signorile has a great newsletter entry here on the background of the case, and why “allowing a web designer to turn away gay couples opens the floodgates to discriminate against LGBTQ people, Jews, Black people, women, and any group based on ‘free speech’ and ‘religious liberty.'” (Quite honestly, one look at the plaintiff’s office should swear anyone off pursuing any creative endeavor with her.)

Christian protesters at the 1990 New York Pride Parade. Photo: David A. Cantor / AP

But the thing that struck me first was on a more local level. You may remember the ridiculous brouhaha earlier this month over the LA Dodgers celebrating the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at a Pride Month game, for their wonderful work for the community, especially in raising AIDS charity funds. This occasioned yet another pearl-clasping outcry that our fabulous gay nuns were “mocking the church” and making fun of religion. We go through these hysterical flare-ups every five years or so—and guess what, turns out Christianity can survive some light parody that actually brings people together in a loving and charitable spirit.

At the time, the “controversy” struck me as a throwback to different times, when much of Christianity was doing its utmost to murder people with AIDS and shame queer people into depression and suicide, as it had done for hundreds of years. (The Pride gift of Keebler troll Pat Roberson’s death this year helped reinforce the time warp.) The whole Christians vs gays thing is so tired and boring—even Christians have learned to have some sense of humor about themselves since the 1990s (they have entire amusement parks now!), and the pope has slightly opened Catholicism up more to LGBTQ+ people in his own slow and confusing way.

What also stood out was the feigned innocence of many Christians—shocked, absolutely shocked, that they were being “attacked,” however falsely, by mean, ungrateful queer people who don’t take them seriously and dance around their every concern. They are so innocent! As if the Inquisition hadn’t happened. As if queer indigenous genocide didn’t happen. As if the Lavender Scare hadn’t happened. As if the Moral Majority hadn’t happened. As if Uganda didn’t just pass a law condemning homosexuals to death at the behest of Christian missionaries. Hell, as if the Mormon-backed Prop 8 didn’t throw 16,000 California same-sex marriages into limbo a mere 15 years ago.

Now on the other side, I am hard-pressed to find an example of a powerful group of homosexuals who have tortured and humiliated anyone for choosing to be Christian, unless expressly requested on their DL Recon profile. If dressing up as a gender-clown nun and calling yourself Sister Connie Pinko, Sister Boom Boom, or Sister Tammy Faye Bakkersfield is one way of dealing with the horrors of history while raising millions for a good cause and spreading joy—well huzzah, say I.

So here we are, with fake victim Christians enshrining their très fatigué bigotry into law again, while we, the actual attacked, are just trying to live our sweet little Aperol spritz and vegan slider-filled lives.

As someone who was raised Catholic, who knows plenty of perfectly lovely Christian people—and gay Christian people—who are absolutely fine with my existence, and who accepted long, long ago that religion is just one of those goofy, inescapable, sometimes horrific, sometimes awe-inspiring elements of human culture, I would never say we should take the bait and reheat the zombie culture wars of the Seinfeld era. (Though I wouldn’t mind a little classic cathedral protest action, as a treat.) Christianity and homosexuality are not natural enemies, they too often share the same wardrobe!

But as the walls continue to close in, and our adversaries feel confident enough to throw off any semblance of subtlety as to their identities and intentions, it seems things can, and perhaps should, only escalate in order to retain what freedom we have to be ourselves. It’s time to gird our loins and fight back. I, for one, can’t wait to test the limits of this new understanding of “equal protection under the law” to the most of my sparkly thong-clad abilities. These bigoted businesses are going to have to throw my tight little behind out themselves.

I’ll sign off with the eternal words of one of our own legendary Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Roma:

“My existence is not an attack on your faith. The problem is some peoplee use their faith as an attack on my existence.”

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Marke B.
Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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