Rainbow Equality

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July 3, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall

It’s been a week since the Supreme Court of the United States declared that marriage equality is a Constitutional right for Americans (mainly because the whole “equality” thing), and the world has not been consumed with hellfire. Nobody was forced to get “gay married” (although there were probably one or two unwanted straight marriages that no one is willing to talk about).
Nothing terrible happened because of marriage equality finally arriving in the States. Donald Trump said some stupid things, but he was going to say stupid things anyway so it’s really no surprise, especially since everyone from Sealy Mattresses to all of New York City are doing all they can to distance themselves from him. Oh, and this happened, but it wasn’t really terrible; it was more pathetic and self-inflicted.

Overall the only significant thing that has happened since the Supreme Court of the United Stated announced their decision, is that there are a few more happy people in America, a few more people who have legally declared that they are in a committed relationship with someone they love, and a lot more people who finally have the same rights that every other human being on the planet should have anyway.

Sitting up here in Canada, a country that has had marriage equality for over a decade, it’s been interesting to watch it all unfold and to see some of the extreme reactions to the announcement by the Supreme Court of the United States. (I refuse to use the acronym SCOTUS because it sounds like something Jenny McCarthy would refuse to vaccinate her child against. Also, it’s important to understand that it is the top court in the country; their decision is final.)

People on Twitter had a lot to say.
Some seemed to think that a new law had been enacted, obstructing their own Constitutional rights. I am amazed that the people who generally scream the most about their rights a/ don’t understand how rights work, and b/ are trying to restrict someone else’s.
Others took the opportunity to once again wheel out the ridiculous trope that equates gay marriage with marrying your car or your pet dog. Because allowing two human beings to marry each other is the same as encouraging bestiality. Some of them see a little too committed to the idea. There may be other issues at play with these folks.
Mostly people that were outraged about marriage equality called it an attack on religion. Like the woman weeping in the linked video above, they claim that marriage equality is an affront to Christianity.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean all Christians, just the ones who don’t like to share.

And I think it all comes down to rainbow ownership.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, the rainbow was one of the many symbols of Christianity, specifically Christian marriage. In the 70s and early 80s when religious retreats were all the rage, there was a rainbow-themed series of marriage retreats popular in the Catholic and Anglican communities. I remember my parents going on one once. Couples would go away for the weekend in groups and reaffirm their commitment to each other, strengthening it through their mutual commitment to Christ. Or something like that. But the point is, afterwards, they had rainbow bumper stickers on their cars, so that they could identify other committed, married Christians in parking lots everywhere.
I’m not sure why they chose the rainbow symbol. It may have been to demonstrate the diversity and variety of God’s creation, but I think it was simply because rainbows are pretty.

Meanwhile, gay people had also adopted the rainbow as a symbol of their community and the struggle for acceptance they were going through. The Christian community didn’t know that the gay community also had an affinity for rainbows. They were too busy wandering through the woods finding Christ to notice, and can you really blame them? They weren’t gay themselves, so what happened with gay people didn’t really affect them, as far as they were concerned. But within the gay community the rainbow became a symbol, and a means of recognition.
I’m not sure why they chose the rainbow symbol. It may have been to demonstrate the diversity and variety of humanity, but I think it was simply because rainbows are pretty.

But eventually the gay rights movement got more and more press coverage because homosexuals felt they should be treated like human beings simply because they are human being. Can’t really fault their logic. Along with a greater public awareness of the gay community came the shocking realization that gays and Christians both liked rainbows. (To be fair, some Christians had already started to suspect it after their bumper stickers had led to some awkward conversations in what they then decided were certainly the “wrong” parking lots.)

For much of the homosexual community, sharing the rainbow symbol with Christians simply confirmed that social harmony was a possibility. However, for parts of the Christian community, the rainbow just became the first of potentially many things that the gays wanted to steal from people devoted to God.
Again, not all Christians felt this way. Just the selfish ones that don’t like to share.
Their resentment over the shanghaied rainbows festered over time and became simple, blatant hatred.

Eventually the rainbow fell into disuse among Christians while thriving within the gay community. The rainbow has also become popular with straights who just want people to be treated fairly regardless of who they love. The gay community itself has become the LGBT community to better reflect the diversity and variety within itself. You know, like a rainbow.

There were gay pride marches, inspired by the civil rights marches. They took to the streets, marching through major cities, being seen and heard, chanting slogans.

“We’re here.
We’re queer.
We have no plans to go away anytime soon so get used to us, my dear.

I may be paraphrasing.
(Also, I’ve long believed that to be truly effective, a protest chant should end with “Etc.” as a caveat to later include any demands that may have been missed when first writing the chant, or things that simply didn’t rhyme.)

The pride marches came into being because there was a need to actively and aggressively demand basic human respect and dignity for gay people. It was loud and brash and in-your-face because it needed to be, just to be heard and to make the point.
Now the marches are a thing of the past. They’ve been replaced by pride parades, a celebration rather than a protest.
There is still a long way to go, especially in the United States -every step forward is met with harsh, angry resistance- but there is also much to celebrate.

Last weekend, Home Depot Canada had a float in the Toronto Pride Parade. My son works for Home Depot and when they asked for volunteers to walk the parade route with the float, he stepped forward. Based on his dating history he’s straight, but he didn’t hesitate to volunteer because, really, there was no reason not to.

So there he was, a good looking heterosexual marching in the pride parade with no personal or political agenda. No one tried to gay marry him. He didn’t catch “the gay virus.” He simply had a good time reveling in an atmosphere of happiness and joy.

A pride parade isn’t just for gays. It’s for anyone who wants to join in a celebration of acceptance and and freedom and life. Or anyone who just likes rainbows. Even Christians.

I think it’s time for Christians to take up the rainbow once again, sharing the symbol with the LGBT community, because like many symbols, the rainbow can represent different things to different people, all at the same time.

Here’s the thing about rainbows: Certain meteorological conditions notwithstanding, rainbows can happen any time in any place, for anyone to see and enjoy and be inspired and comforted.
Just as God intended, if that helps.

It’s for everyone to find their connection with the rainbow and with each other.
We’re all just people, after all.

Try to be nice to each other.



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