“Rosa, baby—just sit here in the back of the bus with the rest of us. One day, if you’re polite enough and have a big enough smile on your face, a nice white lady will invite you to the front to share a seat with her.”
In a post-marriage equality world, there is an alarming trend within conservative religious communities for queer people to take a philosophical posture of politeness and indulge their churches in politics of servility. The belief in essence is that if good Catholic, Baptist, or Mormon queerfolk will just show up to their meetings, quietly accept their second-class community status, and let themselves be denied sacraments, communions, and offices from the Church writ large, that their act of willful submission to personal debasement will create cognitive dissonance within the institution to propel massive change. This is a pernicious mindset that dampers the hard work of Liberation.
Historical precedent clearly alerts us to the self-hating backbone of appeasement thinking. The French homophile group Arcadie asserted in the 1950s “that public hostility to homosexuals resulted largely from their outrageous and promiscuous behavior; homophiles would win the good opinion of the public and the authorities by showing themselves to be discreet, dignified, virtuous and respectable” (Michael Sibalis, describing Arcadie’s philosophy). Embedded within theories of appeasement are the core beliefs that the abused class in fact deserves the abuse they face; and that the onus is upon the oppressed to prove to the oppressor the dignity and worth of their total incorporation.
I would dare say that among the modern day homophiles-for-Christ are LGBT folk who actually believe the collective Church is doing queer people a favor by letting them sit quietly in their Sunday services. These lavender souls are burdened by the internalized shame that they are in fact less than the straight congregants, and that gay and trans people owe gratitude to a Fag-hating God of the Universe for allowing the chapel doors to crack open just widely enough for them to squeeze through and absorb fresh poison.
It is the declaration of Queer Mormons, alongside a growing body of the Mystical Elect, that God and Spirit will not be satisfied until full and total equality has penetrated every sanctuary and temple. Until and unless the Holy of Holies vibrates with celebratory joy for the queer of heaven, the day of actual equality and deliverance is not yet reached.
The minds of gods are mysterious to read. The records of history—less so. Let us retrace history carefully, then, and alert ourselves to the distinct reality that a heterosexist regime has never voluntarily expanded full dignities and rights to queer individuals and communities without direct action and resistance from the abused. The doors of prison cells do not swing open on the hinges of polite encounters.
Act up. Speak out. Fight the real enemy. Claim the blessings. There are worlds and heavens to win.