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Who Will The Church Journey With?

A letter to a friend, penned by a LGBTIQ activist from Taiwan

It was a gloomy weather on the day the Gay Pride Parade was supposed to take place*. I have been worried that this long-awaited event would be unexpectedly disrupted by the potentially bad weather. I held a silent prayer requesting for cool yet not rainy sky for such is an ideal weather to enable a comfortable march without the perspiration that would make me feeling exhausted all over.

I did go to the parade even though I was harbouring a fever for the past three days. My heart longed not only for the weather to stabilise but also my physical body to become well again so that I could finish the march along with everyone, without much trouble. How about you? What were your observations on the day’s event and the march? What are some of your reflections?

Of course, this parade could not escape from the fate of persecution! More than a month ago, a group of religious people held a strong view that they disagree with such kind of parade, and particularly, those from the Christian churches who reiterated the viewpoint that “... same-sex marriage is a mistake, and homosexual behaviour is against the morality of nature... please do not make Taipei City in becoming the next Sodom and Gomorrah, cursed by God”.

Such expressions are not a total surprise, isn’t it? It is a fact that homosexuality is not on the agenda of discussion in mainstream churches, as it is also an infrequent mainstream subject for discussion in the society. The mainstream churches must be puzzled and infuriated on the audacity of the Taipei City Municipal government in using public funds to host this Gay Pride Parade when this subject should not even be publicly addressed!

There were a lot of discussions along the march, and inevitably, the constant nagging reminder from the religious people on the ‘sins’ of homosexuals as they repeatedly try to prove these sins with the two ancient biblical texts of Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, as you were in Kyoto at that time, you have no opportunity to witness the other voices during the march, that is, those who supported this parade and their expressions and reflections. However, while making a statement disagreeing with the objections raised by the religious groups, they have also come to a dilemma, that is, the dilemma of forming a logical and reasonable retort on the so-called “church teachings” expounded by the religious groups who perceived “church teachings’ as the authority in human morality.

You know, since Eva left, I have stopped dwelling into this dilemma. Well, you should know that it is rather fruitless to continuously oppose the mainstream religious discourse. And as for those supporters of Lesbian & Gay Movement, many of them are good supporters in the concept but in reality, when they meet with a lesbian, gay or any persons with a different sexual orientation from them, there is a an involuntary display of fear or anxiety, you can say it is a form of “homophobia”! Moreover, while those who said they have accepted homosexuals, are perhaps just curious about this issue.

I honestly do not care so much about if this issue is being accepted by people or the debates that go with it because lesbian and gays do exist. They exist in front of you but what we experience today is just discourses, debates, arguments yet we ignore their existence, pain and struggles. “Sin” is the usual entry point for any form of opposition by the mainstream religious people, stating hundreds of examples of the mistakes committed by homosexuals. And supporters of lesbians and gays do not seemed to have much creative approaches to counter these oppositions except to play along the lines of “Sin”. At the end of the day, they always receive a ‘good beating’ in any debates or discussions!

No matter how those lesbians or gays in the parade who openly display or continuously hide from their own sexual identity, ultimately, they need to face up to their own love, anger, loneliness, pain, joy or the life they aspire.

You know, everyone desires for a honest and sincere love when it comes to love, desires, sense of security, or happiness, this is a common need, be it heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals etc. In addition, I am sure sexual identity is not a matter for those who truly seek a sense of peace and serenity in their life. For those who are fond of making issues out of the lesbians and gays, be they oppositions or supporters, they have neglected those important yet basic aspects of human longings. And perhaps justice or rights for lesbians and gays would be achieved in the midst of all the debates, but when will we be able grasp the fact that Jesus’ life and teachings centers on these important yet basic aspect of human longing—love, peace and serenity? Are we able to use another angle to connect a human’s spirituality with religion that closes the gap of human alienation and gives power to the attainment of peace?

When Eva revealed her sexual identity, she had to leave the church as it constantly engaged in all these unnecessary debates. From that day onwards, I realised the might of such invisible powers that could ‘kick’ a devoted Christian who had grown up together with the church, out of its circles, when the sexual orientation is a matter of concern. I asked myself, what are the main concerns of the church? What do they value? What do they provide to the church-goers? Or ultimately, the million-dollar question is: what kind of church do I want to belong to? What kind of journey do I want to take on in this church?

What you, Kate, and I long for, is a religion that inspires personal growth, maturity, a true sense of spiritual peace and serenity. So, does it matter if there are those who oppose or support?

I need to return to my own strength from within. I have been relying on outside factors that define my strength, power and existence that deter me from finding out my own inner powers. If that is so, I am no different from a boat floating aimlessly in the vast ocean...

Your friend,
Little Rice

* The LGBT Parade of Taiwan started out in 2003 and the Taipei City Municipal government publicly supported the 4th LGBT Parade in 2006. However, this demonstration of support led to a strong wave of opposition from many Taipei City Municipal senators as well as the Christian leaders and organisations.