Religious Right Comic Makes Homophobia, Ex-Gay Therapy Fun for Teens!
This last August, the anti-gay American Family Association encouraged teens to get their free copy of Revival Fires International's Truth for Youth Bible.
Along with a shoddy translation of the New Testament, the Bible includes "100 pages of powerful full color comic stories... packed with 'absolute truth' regarding issues young people are faced with," such as evolution, witchcraft, "secular rock music" and of course homosexuality.
So we decided to take a peek to see just what the AFA, RVI and TYF bible are teaching teens about teh gay.
But first, a little background: The TFI Bible has been around since 2000, thanks in large part to support from the aformentioned AFA and the rabidly anti-gay Liberty Council, a Christianist legal group that actively opposes gay marriage, gay adoption and gays in the military.
One of the Bible's back pages with "some of America's most prominent leaders" features a veritable who's who of mostly white, silver-haired, anti-gay Christianists including Jerry "gays caused 9/11" Falwell, T.D. "don't hire gays" Jakes and Rick "pedophilia is gay" Scarborough.
The latest incarnation of the TFY Bible includes slick Japanese manga-style artwork and nine tantalizing tales of morality including one where a wealthy abortionist gets haunted by ghost fetuses as he lays dying on a shipwrecked island, anothere where several unwitting Harry Potter fans end up comatose after participating in a demonic ritual at the back of a book store and yet another attributing the increase in school shootings to a lack of on-campus bible groups.
So the comic about homosexuality, entitled "Born That Way" (which you can read in its entirety here) opens at a de-contextualized protest where gay activists weild picket signs reading "God Made Me Gay" and "Give Me A Marriage Lisence Or Give Me Death."
The anti-gay protestors (who are all depicted as skinheads) carry signs reading "Die Queers!" and "Death to Fags!" Nevermind that most anti-gay protestors at real-life demonstrations are self-professed Christians with hair rather than neo-Nazi skinheads; we'll get back to that soon...
Anyway, when the demonstration escalates into a riot, good Aunt Angelique takes her young neice and nephews to hide in a drainage pipe.
Soon after, her young nephew Sebastian says he thinks he might be gay, and his older skinhead brother Santo grabs him by the collar and says "No little brother of mine could possibly be a homo pervert!"
The comic makes sure to point out that Santo isn't a Christian. He doesn't appreciate "religious balogney" or "stupid religious babbling." He's supposed to be an extremist.
That's because if they had made Santo a Christian, that would have turned off Christian teen readers who may not approve of homosexuality but don't want to see themselves portrayed as hateful bigots either.
By having hate speech come from Santo the atheist skinhead instead, the comic provides a safe distance bewteen anti-gay rehtoric and the "God Hates Fags" Christianists who actually use it.
After Santo mentioned "homo perverts," Santo's sister Louisa responds,"I told you moronHe was born that way! He can't change what he is — so stop discriminating!"
It's at this point that Aunt Angelique (the Christianist mouthpiece of this tale) begins her full-on pontification. We've included her words below (the bolding is theirs) and then offered our refutations afterwards:
Angelique says, "They are not 'born that way,' so homosexuality does not qualify as a civil rights discrimination issue."
First off, scientists have continued to find biological and evolutionary links to the inborn nature of homosexuality, and by all likelihood those links will only become more numerous the more science learn about sexual psychology.
But by assuming that sexuality has no natural genetic basis — that no one is "born that way" — Angelique is implying that all people learn their sexuality from the nurturing of their parents and society.
If that's the case, why didn't everyone's heterosexual parents just teach us to be straight? After all, if straight parents cause kids to be gay, shouldn't the Liberty Council start opposing straight marriages instead of gay ones?
Heck, while we're thinking about it, it just occured to us that all of the participants in World War I and II came from heterosexual parents. That means that heterosexuality caused over 97 million deaths in the 20th century alone! Won't the religious right do something to stem heterosexuality's crimson wave of secular murder?
Note: no world wars have occurred since the legalization of gay marriage and gay adoption in the U.S.. That's a fact.
See what stupid reasoning gets you?
But back to Angelique. She's right that homosexuality does not qualify as a civil right in the eyes of the American judicial system. That's beacuse the judicial system has yet to classify LGBT people as a suspect class of citizens that has been historically subject to social and institutional discrimination.
However, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice submitted a 31-page federal court brief arguing just that, a document that leant credence to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's statement that "Gay rights are human rights." So while Aneglique is right, it's merely a matter of judicial opinion that won't likely hold for too much longer.
She continues: "'Gay' is only a political correctness term for condoning homosexuality, just as 'pro-choice' is for abortion supporters. I won't use those deceptive terms no matter how often the liberal media tries to reinforce them."
Gay is not some politically correct word that the "liberal media" created just to distance homosexuality from its incorrect status an outdated psychological illness. Since before 1893, gay has been used as a word to denote homosexuality.
Furthermore, though Angelique tries to conflate homosexuality and abortion, the two issues are nothing alike. One involves the expulsion of fetuses from the human body (a medical issue) and the other involves two people entering a consentual relationship (a civil issue).
To put it in more vulgar conservative terms, one involves killing babies and the other does not.
And while one can argue the social and health consequences of abortion, nowhere in the comic does anyone mention the damage caused by loving someone of the same-sex; Angelique only implies that it inflicts spiritual harm because it's a sin.
But if Angelique were to recite the harms of homosexuality espoused by the AFA, she'd say that homosexuality is as a public health risk on par with smoking and that homosexuality leads to pedophilia, incest, sadomasochism, and bestiality.
That's right, the sin of homosexuality will eventually cause you to turn into a leather queen who'll rape your cousin's baby goat. Except such hateful and bat-shit crazy claims are patently untrue and, if uttered here, would likely turn off teen readers who have gay friends, family members and TV characters that they love a hell of a lot more than Angelique and the AFA.
Back in the sewage pipe where Angelique has been spewing all her anti-gay shit, a tear gas cannister tumbles in, forcing Angelique and her pitiable relatives to come above ground where poor Santo gets hit by a stray rock thrown by one of the protestors.
Yes, it's the poor skinhead who gets hurt in this story and not some gay kid. Irony.
Poor straight-bashing victim Santo gets taken to an ambulence, where Angelique continues telling Sebastian that homosexuality is a sin, that it is un-natural and that, if he chooses to keep being a homogay, he will go to hell by his own choice. Sebastian then asks how God can send him to hell if someone who is gay can't "was born that way" and can't change.
It's at this point that the ambulence's eavesdropping, mustachioed EMT pipes ups and says, "Kid, God loves the homosexual, but he hates the sin of homosexuality!" That's why God is gonna throw you in the eternal lake of fire and brimstone — because of tough love!
Mr. Moustache continues: "And 'born that way' is a bunch of hooey! When I was a homosexual 30 years ago, nobody ever said that — nobody — not once, never, they hadn't even thought of it yet... so it wasn't part of their PR arsenal."
Wait. Their PR aresnal? "They" who? The homosexuals, we assume.
And then here comes Mr. Moustache's money shot: "Whether you are a homosexual, or have just been suckered into a few homosexual acts by some predator, either way Jesus can save you and change you... just like he did for me."
Let us stop for sec to be amazed by the fact that this ex-homo somehow knows that no gay person before 1982 ever claimed that they were "born this way" — that's a level of omnipotence bordering on God-like; such heresy!
It's even more jaw-dropping that this EMT — a medical professional for crap's sake — is the one pushing ex-gay therapy. Ex-gay (or "conversion therapy") is a type of psuedo-psychological quackery so profoundly damaging that not only has it been denounced by the entire American Psychological Association, but the entire state of California has banned it for use on minors.
But the fact that Moustache thinks that some people "suckered into a few homosexual acts by some predator," is preposterous in its level of ignorance and hatred. It perpetuates the untrue stereotype that gays prey on confused and easily manipulated men and suggests that if you have slept with a guy, you were probably "suckered" into it by a dastadrly homogay that overpowered your will and self-determination making you an unwitting victim rather than one "chose" or "accepted" gay sex.
Because no rational, clear-thinking person would ever kiss a gay, right? Pathetic.
Unfortunately, poor, impressionable, teary-eyed Sebastian seems releived that he can possibly change from being gay to wanting to eat pussy for the Lord by the power of prayer.
The comic concludes there, allowing us some time to interpret its messaging and potential impact. The comic is smart to portray homosexuality as an intensely emotional and potentially explosive issue best discussed with family members while hidden away from society in the sewers. Discussing it above ground could get you hit by a rock or worse, kissed by a dude.
The comic doesn't make gayness seem fun or attractive nor does it focus on gay-bashing, a very real consequence of the anti-gay rhetoric spread by the AFA and Liberty Council on a daily basis. Those are all things that help the AFA and LC seem almost compassionate, reasonable and impartial despite ther rabidly anti-gay public personas.
But despite the comic's eye-catching visuals, only 2,500 of the 350,000 recipients of the TFY Bibles have written in pledging their lives to Jesus; that's less than one percent who have read the comics and been so moved as to pledge a life change in the bible's direction.
And while the AFA, LC and TFY bibles would like to crystallize youths in a time where anti-gay intolerance equals godliness, Christian attitudes towards gay marriage (especially among the young) are skewing in favor of gay rights, not against it.
In short, it doesn't matter how you dress up anti-gay sentiment — whether in the cloak of Christianity or the eye-popping allure of Japanese comics — hatred and lies are still hatred and lies. And if you believe that homosexuality is the same as abortion, that God hates gays and that God can make you straight if you just pray hard enough, it's probably because you were suckered into it by some predator.