In the aftermath of erecting a metal cross to replace the flag of Europe in front of Georgia’s Parliament on July 5, my intention was to write only on the ambivalence of this cross, but things took a horrifying turn.
World media and social platforms gave an ample coverage to the events that unfolded around the days of Gay Pride, especially to the developments on the last day when Pride organizers decided to avoid clashes and canceled the March of Dignity on the 5th. This decision was a result of the unprecedented aggression against journalists and media persons on the same day. They were reporting on the counter-Pride demonstration—masterminded by anti-Western, i.e. pro-Putinist Russian forces—strongly encouraged by the Orthodox Church of Georgia. A young cameraman from one of the opposition TV channels, Lexo Lashqarava, severely beaten and injured, was found dead at home on the 11th. Thus, my original intention has been overshadowed by the tragedy of the loss of a human life.
“All models are wrong,” the saying goes among statisticians, “but some are useful.” The modern language of LGBTQ+ identity, while often unhelpfully obfuscating the boundaries between ontology, phenomenology, and epistemology, has been tremendously helpful in uniting and giving voice to people whose experience of sexual attraction and gender is at odds with what the majority of society (often uncritically) prescribes as normative. Within the LGBTQ+ Christian community, one finds a further distinction between Side A Christians—those who believe that God blesses sexual expression in same-sex marriage—and Side B Christians—those who believe that sexual activity is reserved for followers of Christ in the context of the sacrament of marriage, as described by the Church as the union of one man and one woman, but who alsoreject the narrative that one’s sexual orientation can (or should) be changed or reversed.
Revoice, an evangelical conference now in its second year, was founded as the outgrowth of years of conversation, writing, and community-building among Side B LGBTQ+ Christians. The conference is both ecumenical (speakers included Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox), and inviting. While the conference adheres to well-defined understandings of sexual ethics, Christian posture and witness, and racial diversity, the Revoice organizers have created a space for anyone interested in exploring the history, traditions, and practices of Christian approaches to sexuality, celibacy, and community, regardless of whether one considers oneself Side B or Side A.Continue reading →
There are a lot of really good reasons to ban FIFA ’17, including the bevy of corruption scandals that seem to plague the governing body of the world’s most popular sport. But a group of Russian MPs, many from Vladimir Putin’s own United Russia Party, have managed to seize on the most ridiculous: “The FIFA multiplatform video game… invites users to support the action of the English Premier League’s ‘Rainbow shoelaces’ action – a large-scale campaign in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, according to the law the ‘protection of children from information harmful to their health and development’…includes information that promotes non-traditional sexual relations.”
The MPs’ letter is just a recent (and, let’s be honest, absurd) example of the hostile climate that LGBTQ+ people face in Russia, particularly since the passage of the 2013 “Anti-Propaganda” law (the one referenced above by the MPs). Continue Reading…