Andrew Marin’s new and ground-breaking book, Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community
, proposes — the terms are mine — the power of “with” vs. the power of the battle between “for” or “against.”
What does it mean to use the power of “with”? What does it mean to move beyond deciding where you stand on this issue to being someone who loves gays and lesbians and someone who serves gays and lesbians?
It will begin, as Marin points out in chp 3, in recognizing the stigma and shame attached to being gay or lesbian. Here are his words: “The GLBT community feels a constant unnamed pressure from both sides — an invisible Christian ideal that they can’t see themselves living up to, and an overt push from the gay-friendly culture to just ‘come out’ and be OK with it.” Now notice his next words: “Neither option seems achievable to many people who have a same-sex attraction, so they are left with no home and no sense of support” (48).
The power of “with” recognizes the social location of gays and lesbians. Andrew proposes something else, something I’ve never thought about:
Never use the word “homosexual” with a gay or lesbian. Why? “Since the mainstream GLBT community has traditionally looked at the Bible as a tool of oppression, hearing the word homosexual sets off a domino effect of associations:
homosexual = Bible = Christian = fundamentalism = anti-gay =anti-me.
If the power of “with” means empathy and sympathy and the willingness to listen, what does this mean for how traditionalists talk about gays and lesbians?
I must say that Andrew’s stories in this book are amazing. The book is worth the read just for the stories. One of them was his encountering a gay pastor who treated him smugly — but Andrew was committed — for the next six months — to meet with every gay pastor and every gay church in Chicago to learn what they believed. The power of “with.”