Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: There’s no monopoly on faith

One of the things I detest even more than deviled eggs is the implicit perception in religious and political circles that LGBT people are on one side of a binary and religious people are on the other. It is axiomatically false to separate the two categories, as many of our kinfolk and many of the people who support us believe in a range of deities.

While my data may be anecdotal, there is enough of it that I personally know multiple gay Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians, along with a matrix of agnostics and atheists. There’s an army of us in the LGBT community who have been pushed out of our religious backgrounds. A large portion of our community prays every day (not just on flights), attends church regularly, doesn’t blaspheme, asks for forgiveness, spends time with the community that is involved with their place of worship, sings in those places, and are committed to honoring the golden rule.

Despite being shat on by the sort of religious people who believe our civil right to marry robs them of some privilege, we forget that when we group religious people as one thing, we sometimes end up crapping all over our friends and family.

It is an easy trap to fall into, what with a Republican primary currently on the go, Kim Davis being invited to the State of the Union, and our presence in the most religious parts of the nation. We take a lot of flak from religious people, some of whom have made their entire careers benefiting from anti-LGBT prejudice.

We see waves of people coming together in alliances against our basic human rights, with religion commonly forming a part of their bond. For example, in Houston at the end of last year, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which included civil rights protections for LGBT people, failed. One of “HERO’s” most vocal supporters, Pastor Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church, said he hoped leaders would “step up and stand against this thing that’s encroaching across the nation with intimidation and fear and telling people who just believe in common moral decency that they have no voice.” What a contemptible ass—as if we have no common moral decency.

These people piss us off. But they are not the same as our relatives, spouses and friends who maintain a relationship with their gods. We’re experienced in being treated as a bloc, and we’d be doing many of our own people a disservice if we didn’t respect their decisions to do with their faith what they will.

There are Robertsons and Falwells, Davises and Cruzes and Rubios in the world, but there is also Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose daughter just married her partner, and churches along Peachtree Street that hang Pride flags out of their windows every October. There’s also a DC imam named Daayiee Abdullah, who has gone out of his way to perform secret ceremonies for LGBT people.

Like the hotness of Channing Tatum, there are some things we all agree on, like basic civil rights. On other subjects, we have to accept that there is varied opinion, and we would do well to not spear our own community. We get enough of that from the outside.