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    September 28, 2007

    A last thought on the Last Supper…?

    Posted by: Chris

    Robinson01_med After reading some of the comments to my post on the Last Supper parody by the Folsom Street Fair, I do think there's something to be said for the critique of conservatives pitching a fit about the poster. Dan Savage makes the case, with a number of much more humorous examples of Last Supper parodies, that conservatives were rather selective about raising a stick concerning this particular parody.

    For conservative Christians, gays represent the antithesis of religion, family, morality and godliness. That's why the idea of gays marrying, raising children, joining the Boy Scouts and serving in the military is much more threatening to them than when we hold over-the-top Gay Pride parades or street festival bacchanalias like Folsom in San Fran and Southern Decadence in New Orleans.  The latter represents our expected behavior.

    I don't buy into the idea, expressed by some in the comments to my original post, that all gays share some responsibility to make ourselves look respectable to conservative Christians, or Christians generally. But I do think it's unfortunate that more of us don't realize that our ideological foes salivate at images like the Folsom Street poster, or the surreptitious videos they take at gay parties and social events. To that extent, their rage is more manufactured than real. 

    And their upset isn't so much with the gays, who are expected to be offensive and sacreligious, but with the mainstream culture, for not slapping us down when we misbehave.  That's why Miller Beer got the brunt of the conservative protest, for sponsoring Folsom and having its logo on the poster.

    Lost in the brouhaha over the Folsom Street Fair poster is the real threat to conservative Christianity this week. It wasn't in San Francisco with a bunch of leathermen and drag queens posing with sex toys. Not by a longshot. The real threat came from New Orleans, where Episcopal bishops refused to throw to the wolves an openly gay, non-celibate Episcopal bishop.

    For that reason, Gene Robinson represents a much greater threat to conservative Christian bigotry.



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    1. Michael on Sep 28, 2007 10:17:29 AM:

      Brilliant, Chris! I couldn't agree more.

    1. Dean on Sep 28, 2007 11:58:29 AM:

      here's a radical notion: the glbt community has absolutely no obligation or responsibility to make ourselves look respectable to conservative Christians, Christians in general, gay conservatives,
      conservatives in general, or anyone else you'd care to throw in.

      it's not as simple as "not all of us share the same responsibility" in this area. none of us have any obligation whatsoever. hasten the day when the conformist elements in the glbt community wake up to this reality.

      in the end, it's not such a radical notion at all. it's simply realism. we can go to great lengths, engage in all manner of cultural contortions to conform, to be "just like them", to appear as normal and non-threatening and non-sexual and non-promiscuous as possible--none of it works. what's worse than that the quest for respectability is born of fear and self-loathing among the glbt community and that it's repressive and violates self-determination is that in the end it's futile.

      the idea that we can somehow make ourselves less loathsome to conservatives (or evangelicals or whoever) is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. the marriage debate should demonstrate that to even the most committed conformists within the glbt community.

      it's time to rediscover and embrace our queerness. to hell with "we are just like you." and to any christians or conservatives, gay or otherwise, who are offended by the folsom street fair poster, here's another radical notion: don't look at it.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 28, 2007 1:05:56 PM:

      Then, Dean, by that logic, they have no obligation or responsibility to treat YOU with respect.

      Be as queer and as non-mainstream as you want. Just don't go around demanding mainstream privileges or benefits.

    1. Amicus on Sep 28, 2007 1:34:28 PM:

      Concisely put, CC.

      start with this premise and work backwards:

      You are a non-gay, "conservative", Christian.

      What are the ways to vocalize your approval/disapproval, if

      1. you are a irretrievable homophobe
      2. you genuinely accept homosexual love as Christlike and worthy of being blessed

      With that in hand, one can start to fashion a pressure campaign on the "Barbera's" of the world to push them to where they ought to be on what they call the 'homosexual issue'.

      One can separate which responses to this poster are 'normal' and which are 'vicious'.

    1. Dean on Sep 28, 2007 2:12:52 PM:

      i wouldn't exactly call that logic. suddenly you've jumped to the idea that refusing to conform to another group's definition of respectability is disrespectful to that group! yes, it's so disrespectful of me to refuse to be complicit in society's oppression of me! many evangelicals would argue that our very existence is an affront to them in their god. that's why coming out is as political as it is personal. by *your* logic, nobody should come out, because to do so is disrespectful to the far right.

      you must be aware that the religious right is disrespectful to the glbt community almost all the time. and they are free to be. as long as they keep it in the pulpit and out of the political arena. they can say whatever hateful and disrespectful and demeaning things they want about glbt people in their holy places. that's their right. i would never try to muster the power of the state to silence them. others might; i would not. i will, however, treat them with all the scorn and derision and humor i can muster because they have rightfully earned it. that is my right.

      as for demanding what you deem mainstream privileges and benefits, i certainly hope that we never have to pass a respectability test in order to claim them. who exactly is defining those criteria and setting up such litmus tests? small-minded bores i imagine...

    1. Ingrid on Sep 28, 2007 2:40:02 PM:

      As a lesbian I would not consider myself self loathing because I want people, including gay people, to behave with more respectability. It brings to mind a time a woman I was dating called me at work and said I didn't sound like me but sounded white. So answering the phone in a "respectful" and "professional" manner is now acting white. The same is suggested here, behave in a respectful manner and now you are one of "them" and somehow you have lost your "gayness" or worse yet you hate yourself. What bunk. Asking gay men not to have sex in parks because they deter other people from using the park is not self loathing it's expecting gay men to behave in a respectable manner. When men piss on the street passerbys are not self hating but asking these men to be respectful. Asking gay men to refrain from simulating sex acts during gay pride parades is not a question of self loathing it is a question of respect. I would like to think that we all want some form of respect.

    1. Dean on Sep 28, 2007 2:52:26 PM:

      i thought we were talking about a poster. who said anything about having sex in parks or pissing in the street?

      also, i will point out again that there is a difference between respectful and respectable.

      chris has recommended, based upon his misreading of my comments, that i temper my expectation that conservatives treat me with respect. actually, what i will continue to do is not expect them to conform to my notions of respectability. refusing to accept one another's standards does not amount to disrespectful treatment of each other.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 28, 2007 6:01:15 PM:

      "yes, it's so disrespectful of me to refuse to be complicit in society's oppression of me!"

      Is that what you say when you wear your assless chaps to work?

      Is that what you say when you demand to be allowed to have sex in public?

      Is that what you say when you create posters that you know very well will be offensive to many people?

    1. Dean on Sep 29, 2007 12:14:50 AM:

      i think technically all chaps are assless, but i'm not an expert, since i don't own any.

      also, i didn't make the poster. save your anger for those who did.

      and as for sex in public, haven't done that since last fourth of july, but it was on a privately owned rooftop, not really a public space, so i'm not sure that counts.

    1. Sweating through Fog on Sep 29, 2007 12:38:36 PM:

      The poster is just deliberate, gratuitous Christian-baiting. Baiting Christians is like pissing on the occupants of the last lifeboat off the Titanic.

      The fact is there are anti-gay Christians and their are anti-Cristian gays. Respect by everyone is needed to preserve a pluralistic society.

      Ridicule and parody can be used by anyone.

      Look at the silly Folsom Street Fair press release:

      And compare it with my parody:

      September 25, 2008

      Poster image draws inspiration from the annual Islamic Hajj, in a poster entitled: Masjid al-Harem.

      Folsom Street Events has released its latest poster design for the 25TH Annual Folsom Street Fair. This year, the official poster, drawn by renowned artist Theo van Gogh, uses well-known community members as players in a strikingly original interpretation of the annual, worldwide pilgrimage to Mecca. The poster is the second in a series that draws from well-known paintings, album covers, movie posters, or other iconic images. Community members celebrate exuberant sexuality by donning their S/M regalia, and dancing around not the Kaaba, but a 10 story phallus.

      According to Andy Copper, Board President, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this poster, and we are looking forward to a particularly inspirational event season. There is no intention to be particularly pro-religion or anti-religion with this poster; the image is intended only to celebrate the sacred roots of raw sexuality. It is a distinctive representation of diversity with women and men, people of all colors and sexual orientations. Just as Mecca draws people of all races throughout the world, we hope people from all continents will come come celebrate with us!”

      Folsom Street Events acknowledges that many of the people in the leather and fetish communities are spiritual and that this poster image is a way of expressing that side of the community’s interests and beliefs. This year, Folsom Street Fair is dedicated to “San Francisco Values,” previously used against the San Francisco community for its support of sexual diversity and now used by Folsom Street Events as a way to reclaim power by the fetish community.

      Andy Copper, adds “We hope that people will enjoy the artistry for what it is – nothing more or less. Many people choose to speculate on deeper meanings. This is one artist’s imagining of a pilgrimage that is at one both sexual and sacred - all we did was adopt the iconography of Mecca and make it our own. The irony is that homosexuality has a long and wonderful history in Islam. In truth, we are going to produce a series of inspired poster images over the next few years. Next year’s poster ad may take inspiration from American Gothic by Grant Wood, the flag raising at Iwo Jima, or even Raphael's 'The School of Athens' - community members are already preparing for roles in that one!"

      When asked about the murder of the poster artist, Theo van Gogh, and the worldwide rioting that has claimed dozens of lives, Copper said: "I guess it wouldn’t be Folsom Street Fair without offending some extreme members of the global community, though.”

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