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"The order of the natural, created world"

Gordon Gritter noted:

> There is now abundant biological evidence that gender
> characteristics are not absolutely 'masculine' or
> 'feminine', but exist in diversities and variants.

Hallelujah!  How boring if we all had to match the rigid gender expectations
of comic books.

To become whole as a gay man, one of the demons I had to exorcise, with
God's help, was the cultural assumption we're so carefully, carefully taught
-- that there is something wrong when the stereotypically feminine shows up
in a male's personality.  I wrote this poem back in 1978 to help me with
that exorcism:

     Queer Power*

     Swish, swish, men of America.
     Cross your legs only at 90-degree angles.
     Swish, swish!
     Your fingernails are getting a mite too long.
     Swish, swish!
     That fuchsia shirt might be misunderstood.
     Swish, swish!
     You'd better lower your pitches
     and say something evil about your mothers.
     Swish, swish!
     You smell too sweet and are too polite.  Be crude.
     Swish, swish!
     Talk about war, not about flowers.
     Swish, swish, men of America.
     Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.
     Swish, swish.  Bug off.

I have no firsthand knowledge of heterosexuality, but many straight male
friends tell me that their wholeness also depends on being comfortable with
a gender mix in their personalities.  Males who are phobic about manifesting
any gentleness, have a dreadful time being priests, artists, musicians~E~E..
Straight males who are uncomfortable with their 'femaleness' are often the
biggest bullies against sissies like me.  Perhaps in attacking me they are
trying to suppress what they fear in themselves, or perhaps they are trying
to create a smokescreen so that others won't notice the same behaviors in

I have had to battle testosterone poisoning as much as many males of my
generation.  At one point in my life I earned my living as a professional
actor playing macho characters like Sequoia and Sam Houston.  I am amused
when I overhear someone mocking me by exaggerating one of my gestures as
effeminate.  In point of fact, it took me years to become a quean.  I did so
consciously and deliberately.  In part it has been a struggle to preserve my
right to be playful.

The struggle is also deadly serious. Long before straight men started
wearing earrings, I wore one as a self-conscious way to cut myself off from
respectability.  Founding Integrity within the church and co-founding the
lesbigay caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English, I was
intensely aware that some would misunderstand my ministry as one to gain
Respectability.  My ministry has never been about Respectability.  Jesus
said all that Christians ever need to say about Respectability at Calvary.
My ministry is about Wholeness, about God's love of absolutely everybody,
"Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me."

Some husbands experience couvade, a custom by which a father appears to
undergo labor and childbirth when his child is being born.  A couvade has
possibilities both good and bad.  The husband risks the arrogance of owning
the wife's experience and making her less important; the husband also sets
himself up to experience supreme empathy.

Our liturgies could be enriched with prayers that embrace these mysteries.
God won't mind if we pray: "Thank you for making gender complex in me.
Thank you for the ways in which I am gentle and graceful.  Thank you for the
ways in which I am weak and dependent. Thank you too for the ways in which I
am tough, strong and independent.  Thank you for the freedom and the safety
to explore who I am.  Help me to walk in balance.  Keep me whole, o God.
Then free me from preoccupations with myself so that I can encounter you,
love you, and serve you in others, especially in those least like me. AMEN.'

Louie Crew
Chair of the Newark Deputation.  Member of Executive Council.

* "Queer Power" has appeared:

Swish Publications Summer, 1979.
Gay Christian [U. K.] 17 (1980): 27.
Contact II Winter 1987: 50.
NABWMT Journal 4 (Summer 1991):  7.

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