It’s a relatively quiet news day on the LGBT front. I wonder if it’s the calm before the storm, what with the inauguration less than a week away. So with the inauguration in mind, and for those who haven’t heard him speak, I’m posting a speech by Bishop Gene Robinson, who will give the invocation at an inaugural concert this Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial.
The following speech was given on February 9, 2008 at the NGLTF‘s annual Creating Change conference. Bishop Robinson spoke before 2,000 LGBT activists on the role the religious community has played in the oppression of LGBT people and the role of religious people in the struggle against that oppression.
It’s an excellent speech, so I’ll shut up and let the man talk. Thanks to the NGLTF for making the video available, presented here in four parts. (It’s about 35 minutes total, including the introduction in part one.)
The press is all the time trying to get me to say bad things about certain parts of our community… You know, I stand on the shoulders of those drag queens at the Stonewall bar who got fed up with the way they were being treated, and I owe a lot to them.
I helped found a group in little old Concord, New Hampshire for LGBT and questioning teens, actually up through age 21. And one night I was having a conversation with five or six of them. Not one of them was from a religious household, but every one of them thought they knew what God thought of them. They all knew the word “abomination”.
The Church, the religious communities, are responsible for that. And I would say that the only people who can undo that are religious people.
And I think that we are coming into a new era in which LGBT groups are learning to partner with those religious groups who can fight that piece of the battle. You may wilt at the quoting of scripture; it doesn’t scare me one bit! And there are a lot of people in the various religious faiths who can take on those ancient texts and teach us that they don’t mean what they initially seem to mean.
At the root of it, the hatred against us has more to do with misogyny than anything else. It is the disdain for women and for things feminine that lie at the root of the hatred and projection that come our way. We have to pay attention to those things.
We are about the end of patriarchy. For a very very long time, white, straight, educated, western, men have been making most of the decisions for the world. And you know what? The jig is up.
So we began to welcome people of color to the table. We began to welcome women to the table. We began to welcome those who are physically challenged. And now, oh my God, we’re welcoming lesbian, and gay, and bisexual, and transgendered people to the table, and who knows where it ends? Well I can tell you where it ends: It ends with all the voices around the table. And as soon as we make some headway on this one, God is going to piont out somebody else we’ve been overlooking. There is no end to it.
I think the word “heterosexism” points to where the responsibility lies. It lies with the oppressors, not with the oppressed, to dismantle the system that benefits them. And so, combining the end of patriarchy with the end of the reign of heterosexism is where we need to be.
My partner and I just came back from New Zealand, and once again I was reminded that when you fly back into the country, the flight attendants proudly announce, “We’re passing out customs and immigration forms. One per family. …Oh, excuse me, you’ll need two.” Just in little and large ways, the system tells us that we are second class. And it’s time for that to end.