Sunday, 13 January 2008

56 - Religion: Are You Cruising with Me, Lord?

By Brian Shein in “National Lampoon”, May 1977

I met you in a bar.
No one else could see you, but I knew a very special person had just walked into my life.
I let you buy me a drink.
I liked your style. '
You didn't come on too strong. You were gentle, friendly, warm.
You asked me about myself; and I found myself pouring out my heart to you.
I told you about shame and guilt, anger and loneliness. Especially the loneliness, the terrible solitude or those nights when my body was so close to another man's, but our hearts and minds were so far apart.
You listened. You could accept what I was saying.
Then you told we how you too were "different" from others.
You told me about society's abuse and mistrust. About the nights alone on Galiliean hillsides.
You told me what they did to your body, the most beautiful body any man has ever had.
But then you told me about love and forgiveness.
You smiled when you talked of your love for all mankind.
I smiled too.
You held my hand as we looked deep into each others' eyes. There were tears in mine. Tears of joy.
We had found each other, you and I.
I went home with you that night.
It was the best.
It was real.
Let's go cruising. Together.
Let's hit those bars and baths and pick up a few more souls.
Let's do it tonight. And the night after, too.
You've got my number. Just dial L-O-V-E and charge it to my heart.
You great big beautiful son of God.


This may be a parody of Malcolm Boyd’s prayer “This is a Homosexual Bar, Jesus" in his 1965 collection “Are You Running with Me, Jesus?” In 1977 Malcolm Boyd had just come out.

"This is a homosexual bar, Jesus. It looks like any other bar on the outside, only it isn't. Men stand three and four deep at this bar—some just feeling a sense of belonging here, others making contacts for new sexual partners. This isn't very much like a church, Lord, but many members of the church are also here in this bar. Quite a few of the men here belong to the church as well as to this bar. If they knew how, a number of them would ask you to be with them in both places. Some of them wouldn't, but won't you be with them, too, Jesus?"

I’ve already made a few references to historical discussion of Jesus and any putative homosexuality on his part here.

This poem highlights certain major differences between the UK and the US. This was published in “National Lampoon”, a magazine with a sizeable readership, but it seems to have vanished without a trace. It depicts an imagined homosexual relationship with Jesus Christ, yet the Catholics and assorted evangelical wingnuts, who at that time seemed to hold inordinate social and political power in certain quarters, appear to have overlooked it altogether. Go figure. Of course, America does have freedom of speech.
In November 1976, “Gay News” in the UK, published the poem “The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name” by James Kirkup, a fantasy about a Roman centurion committing necrophiliac acts upon Christ’s dead body. This led Mary Whitehouse, of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, to lead a successful private prosecution for blasphemous libel against the editor of “Gay News” in July 1977. Some of the history and oddity of this case can be read about here
As legal restrictions on homosexuality were being overturned, the last recourse for bigots, outside of naked digust and hatred, was the moral sphere. Whitehouses' prosecution, despite being successful, left her "dreadfully isolated" (in her own words).
Section 28 in the UK (the debate for which lasted from December 1987-May 1988) was the last-ditch attempt to entwine the legal with a supposed morally-founded opposition to homosexuality. And it's notable that aside from a few jokes about rowdy lesbian protestors, nobody found anything funny to joke about in that nasty sordid homophobic mess.
What an ugly week this one has been. Let's hope I find something marginally cheerier for next week.

No comments: