Something Sensible from Gene Robinson

Surprisingly, there is a little gem in the current Times serialisation of Gene Robinson’s book, a nugget that all those on the conservative side need to grab hold of and understand:

The worst part is that it’s reminiscent of the years and years that I had to self-censor everything I said, so as not to give away the fact that I was gay. Gay and lesbian people learn at an early age to filter every single word before uttering it, straining out anything that might indicate who we really are on the inside. I know from my own experience, and from that of countless others, that this is an exercise in self-alienation. In a nanosecond we listen in our heads to what we’re about to say and, before speaking, edit out anything that might indicate to the listener that we’re gay. We get really, really good at it, until it becomes second nature. But it takes a toll on our souls.

This may not sound like oppression – it’s not the same as being thrown into prison or burnt at the stake – but it’s one of the silent, painful results of oppression. The result of any oppression is living in fear – fear of discovery, rejection and retribution. It’s what most gay and lesbian people live with every day, all over the world.

Forget the fact that his consecration was incorrect as it violated clear rules for the nature of the Episcopacy. Forget the sometimes militant sexual liberationism that comes from some parts of the LGBT community. Read those two paragraphs again and understand the one thing being articulated.

Pain. The pain of being different. The pain of not knowing what people will do with you if they find out. Here’s Jimmy Somerville articulating the same thing.

You don’t have to approve of sex outside of marriage, you don’t have to jump on the gay rights band-wagon, but if you can understand the pain many LGBT people go through my readers, you will be 90% on the way to the right kind of witness.

That’s one kind of listening we can never do enough of.

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  • Nigel Cundy

    People learn at an early age to filter every single word before uttering it, straining out anything that might indicate who we really are on the inside. I know from my own experience, and from that of countless others, that this is an exercise in self-alienation.

    One interesting point is to apply this to the general situation. Forget the particular subject on which he is speaking for the moment. We all do have things inside us that we are ashamed of, or think others will be ashamed of. After all, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” So to what extent do we all filter our words, so as to avoid giving offence, either out of concern for the listener’s feelings, or out of fear of possible retribution. Should we do this? Is hiding some part of ourselves away in this fashion part of the getting rid of the sin and changing inside, or is it just compounding the problem?

    But switching back to the direct topic, thanks for posting this. Food for thought about how we are to witness.

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com Jay

    I wouldn’t say this is an problem only SSA-strugglers only face, because like Nigel said we all filter our speech to avoid our shameful secrets. At the same time, I think this tactic might be a little more used by us SSA-folk, mainly because society is very “straight-oriented” and there are lots of situations where romance, attraction, marriage, and the like come up in conversation. I don’t like to blame my SSA for anything, but I do understand what Robinson is saying here, and I know that the phenomenon he describes has made me too comfortable with lying. That’s something I’m going to have to work through. It certainly is wrong to filter speech, but perhaps I’m a bit of an extremist on that issue.

  • http://web.mac.com/craigadams1/ Craig L. Adams

    Thanks for posting this Peter. this is an insight I need to remember.

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