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October 28, 2018, 6:00 AM

"Torn" Session 7: Chapter 11


Torn Chapter 11

Synopsis:

            At the beginning of Chapter 11, Lee summarizes what he feels are the affects of the church’s negative “us vs them” message toward gay LGBTQ individuals:

  1. It did not make him straight
  2. Gives people a reason to lie to fit in (which Lee says he refused to do)
  3. Made him hate himself

The chapter then shifts to Lee’s experience in the gay community.  He admits that his initial experience (or lack thereof) and understanding of what it meant to live as an openly gay individual came from gay magazines and the internet which portrayed “sleazy, near-pornographic imagery” and a sex obsessed lifestyle.  To all of this Lee says, “But this isn’t me.”  Through books like Bruce Bower’s, “A Place at the Table,” who asserts that sex-laden images and stereotypes of gat culture are both unfair and harmful, Lee is able to find common experience and takes some comfort, finally, in not being alone. 

            Lee is able to find a gay Christian chat room and finds others who share both his orientation and his faith.  These were individuals who were all in or seeking relationships.  Lee still has problems reconciling this with scripture.  But he finds this group at least, does not have a good answer.  He finds their engagement with Lee’s questions to be just as “anti-intellectual” as the ex-gays.  They are just on the other side.

            Lee begins to participate in an LGBTQ campus group (GALBA), going from one of just a few members to its vice president in a short amount of time.  Lee begins to feel like two different people: Christian Justin and Gay Justin, each with his own completely separate group of friends.  He finds he has little in common with other GALBA members who are seemingly uninterested in religion.  This group, too, seemed to buy into the “gay vs Christians” culture dynamic.  People felt like they had to choose one or the other.  When Lee mentions reaching out to his Christian group (CCF), in order to open dialogue, he is met with resistance and even hostility.  Lee feels more and more like these two parts of himself are irreconcilable, and that leads him to depression.  When he reaches out to his parents about his depression, they get him in to see a therapist… who tells him that the bible makes it quite clear that being gay is a sin.  Lee doesn’t go back.  In the final sentences of Chapter 11, Lee makes the choice not to be defined by this culture war.    

 

Quotes of note:

            “This is why, even while admitting I was gay, I felt the need to constantly apologize or explain myself; I didn’t want to be associated with the kind of hedonistic, sex-obsessed lifestyle that was my only image of gay people.  I didn’t know where to find any other image.” –pg150

            “The one big thing the gays and Christians had in common was that they both believed in a Gays-vs.-Christians culture dynamic.” –pg157

            “And so, in this microcosm of society, as the Christians judged the gays and the gays shunned the Christians, the misunderstanding and resentment fed into itself, giving all the more reason for people to feel a need to pick a side.” –pg158

 

Question to consider:

            Given the quote above, what do we do about it?

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