Tikkun Magazine, July/August 2010
Introduction to Special Section
Why should religious people fight for gay rights? What has lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activism accomplished, and where is it headed? How are people who identify as queer—a former slur defiantly reclaimed in the early 1990s—creating new, radically inclusive religious spaces? And how might queer political activism move our society as a whole toward a more caring, just, and liberatory future?
These are just a few of the questions taken on by authors in this ambitious special section on queer spirituality and politics. Jay Michaelson's cover story issues a dual challenge, urging conservative Jewish and Christian people to engage fully with LGBT claims, and calling on secular gay rights activists to consider the necessity of religious backing for successful civil rights campaigns.
The articles that follow—commissioned by assistant editor Alana Yu-lan Price, who put this section together—fall into two loose clusters. The first seven pieces look at how lesbian, gay, bisexual, same-gender-loving, Two Spirit, and transgender people are moving forward in various mainstream or conservative religious milieus; they deal in turn with Evangelical Christianity (Bakker), Islam (Sharma), Hinduism (Vanita), Native American spirituality (LaFortune), Buddhism (Yang), Christian mega-churches (Flunder), and Orthodox Judaism (Ladin).
The next eight pieces focus less on the traditional religious milieux, and more on religious and political innovation, or what Nichola Torbett's popular post on Tikkun Daily (tikkun.org/daily) last year called "The Radical Potential of Being Queer." Price gives a broad overview of LGBT activism and the resultant cultural/political shifts over the last sixty years. Starhawk tells how these radical developments played out in her Pagan community. Udis-Kessler and Lostroh question the wisdom of basing demands for acceptance on the argument that LGBT people "can't help" being who they are. Somerson reports on queer Jews responding to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Koyama cautions U.S. activists not to bolster imperialistic dynamics in responding to anti-gay repression in Uganda. Kolodny looks at how bisexuality expands the terms of gay politics and theology. Smith widens the lens further in looking at the radical challenge that queer thought and life present to imperialism, while Spade explores its challenge to capitalism.
Our discussion of queer and trans politics continues at tikkun.org/queer with an array of online exclusives and will resume in the upcoming September/October issue with a critical response from transgender activist Noach Dzmura to Jay Michaelson's cover story.
U.S. attitudes toward homosexuality have undergone amazing transformations in recent decades, thanks in great part to innumerable acts of bravery as queer people publicly came out. LGBT people have supported each other for years with myriad acts of love, sex, writing, organizing, celebrating, marching, arguing, healing, service, and solidarity—what we at Tikkun would call a spiritual politics. Queer history provides a model for how society can change as we each find the courage to come out as loving, caring people, radically unable to live within the norms of a hierarchical, capitalist, violent world.