I am not the ruling of an activist judge and my life is not
featured in Romans 1:24-32
By Sarah Carucci
This election cycle has been
ripe with debate over what rights we’re entitled to as LGBTIQ
individuals, but only for those who understand the code words.
Few candidates were brazen
enough to declare themselves abjectly “anti-gay”, but buzz words
such as “traditional family values” and “activist judges” were
The term, “activist
judges,” coined by a 2004 State of the Union speechwriter, has taken
on such a ubiquitous cultural connotation that it is appearing
Politicians use it when
they want to communicate their anti-LGBTIQ sentiment, without making
that leap into bigotry.
Most of the right-wing
conservatives and even the more politically moderate who remain in
support of the ambiguous concept of “traditional family values,”
seem to take comfort in being able to focus on the shapeless rather
than the personal.
Notions such as “activist
judges” are easier to lambaste than the actual humanized denial of
rights to specific individuals. These are the same people who refuse
to consider the possibility that anyone who plays a significant role
in their life could ever personalize for them the meaning of the
In mid-October I was part
of a Safe Zone training panel, in which three of my peers and I
shared our various reflections on our LGBTIQ identities with a group
of allies-in-training. At one point a middle-aged man raised his
hand and interjected, “Yes, but why should I care how you identify?”
After struggling for a
moment to make sense of the inquiry, I realized something
particularly significant about the question ? at that moment he was
unable to understand the difference between the mere acknowledgment
of some displaced LGBTIQ community member and the acceptance of the
idea that each person he interacted with on a daily basis could be
an LGBTIQ-identified individual.
It is clearly much easier
to deal with our feelings, whether theoretical tolerance or utter
disgust, for a group of people we believe to be a mere idea or a
media sound byte who are irrelevant to our personal existence. This
realization is what hung over me as I left that Safe Zone training
and saw a preacher delivering a diatribe against the “homosexual
lifestyle” in the Pit. It prompted me to wonder, had this man ever
had a conversation with someone he thought might not be
That question is what led
me to strike up a conversation with “Bible Greg.” After ten minutes
of exchanging our impressions of the University, I offered him my
hand and said, “By the way, my name is Sarah and I’m the co-chair of
the LGBTIQ group here on campus.”
Now despite my
enunciating each of those letters much more carefully than usual,
the confusion that shot across his face urged me on. “The lesbian,
gay, bisexual...,” I faded off. “Oh! You’re a lesbian,” he cried not
with disgust but rather sheer astonishment. “Well no, Bible Greg,” I
countered. “I actually use the term queer for myself.”
So began one of my most
entertaining and satisfying interactions of recent memory, from
explaining the basics of queer theory to why I would suggest he
dedicate more time to preaching against disobeying one’s parents
(the punishment of which is also death according to Romans 1:24-32).
I firmly believe that for those minutes the respect and interest in
each other’s thoughts were weighted equally between us.
Whatever the case, as I
shook his hand upon leaving, his words, “It was a real pleasure,
Sarah,” certainly felt sincere.
I’m not going to claim to
understand most of those who identify with the right, either
politically or religiously, but I can’t help but notice a pattern.
If we look who on the Bush administration has the least
fundamentalist views on LGBTIQ rights, it is of course Dick Cheney,
father of a lesbian. Is there any other issue that pushes Cheney
even remotely back towards the center? Of course not. But here more
than ever, the political has become personal, and staunch hatred
just will not do for him.
While there may perhaps
not be enough LGBTIQ children for each rightwing zealot, we still
must do what we can to make ourselves visible in the most
personalized of ways.
I am calling on us to
make those who spew the most hate face us, knowing who we are, and
repeat what they wrote in their “Live Journals” or whispered to a
friend. And if nothing else, what’s the harm in making conservatives