The Swamp is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.
How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.
How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.
To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.Show less
When I was younger, I liked going to church. I liked the idea of trusting in something greater, something that watches every step we make, lets us do our mistakes but forgives us if we show redemption. I don't think I ever was a true believer, but there was something that drove me to mass, every Sunday. The priest of my community is what drove me away from it.
"Going to church has nothing to do with politics. We're not here to discuss politics." He would say every damn time. It was perhaps the first time I felt disgusted at someone holding a position of authority because generally, two minutes after saying that sentence, he would actually start talking about politics. Nevertheless, he taught me something important: church is not a place to discuss politics. A clergyman is the spiritual head of a community which is composed of various groups of people. Including minorities. Oh, yes, including queer people as well. A clergyman shouldn't be allowed to get political on issues that may hurt some of the members of his community, if anything for the fact that one of the main teachings of catholicism, in theory, is inclusion. Acceptance.
But then you scroll the news and you see that Anthony Fisher, the Archbishop of Sydney, has spoken out against same-sex marriage during Sunday's mass homily. He used his position of authority to give a pathetic ground to his homophobia, to make it sound like it's the best thing for all Australians to keep queer people as second-class citizens.
Let's go through some of the piles of filth that the archbishop managed to say to the St Mary's Cathedral congregation:
"The state has no business telling us who we should love and how, sexually or otherwise."
True. Except the state would not be telling Australians who they should love, isn't it? The whole point of sex-same marriage is that people then would be allowed to love whoever the hell they want. The idea that marriage and sex are limited to straight people is antediluvian and delusional. However, what he really meant was that the state shouldn't go against the normative religious tradition that marriage and sex belong exclusively to unions between men and women. Even if he just said that (and even though he didn't, it was pretty clear what he meant), his point wouldn't stand. If there is an authority that should have a say in that, that's the state. The executive and legislative branches elected by the people. The representatives who are in charge and vow to protect the citizens of a country, to increase and strengthen their liberties. Notwithstanding the fact that Australia is a secular state. If there's a body that should shut up and "keep out of the friendship business and out of the bedroom," that's the church, which was embodied in its catholic sphere by Archbishop Anthony Fisher, a man who had nothing better to say during his homily than to actively discriminate queer people. Some of them might have been in that church, in that moment. And that angers me.
"The only kind of friendship the state has a proper interest in recognising and regulating is heterosexual marriage, because that’s what leads to children – new citizens – and gives them the best start in life."
Oooh, so now the state can peak into the bedroom business, right? As long as the bed is occupied by a man and a woman, it's all sweet and lovely, isn't it? What this joke of a man is doing is flat-out saying that queer people are not capable to give children the best start in life just because they're not physically able to create them. That LGBT+ would not be able to raise good citizens. What he's also saying is that the state should only regulate what it "has a proper interest in," which is despicable in a broader context. Now, I'm not much of a religious person, but the catholic God didn't sacrifice their only son on a cross because they had "a proper interest" in it. The life of Jesus Christ, as written in the testament, shows that love can lead us to incredible places. And a church minister, who should be advocating those teachings, is the first one to turn the other way, covering his blatant homophobia with groundless claims.
"If overseas experience is anything to go by, if marriage is redefined it will be very hard to speak up for real marriage anymore – in schools, at work, socially."
Sorry, Fisher, the overseas experience is nothing to go by, because you don't know what you're talking about. At first, that claim left me doubting, then making me pretty sure that he had just made all of it up. But then, my oh my, he goes on and talks about the ideal of marriage, which somehow would be wrecked if those dirty gays were allowed to officialise their love. He's clearly turning a blind eye to the fact that increasingly more marriages (straight marriages, by the way) end up in divorce; so many of these divorces end up becoming legal battles for money, possessions, for the custody of children. It is hard to speak up for real marriage, that's true, but queer people are not the reason for that. It's impossible to pin down a unique factor leading to the decay of the institution of marriage, but I'm more than sure when I say that allowing queer people to marry is not one of those. But again, for Fisher, that's besides the point. He's already stirring all the shit he can get, and to tip it all off, he says this:
“Traditional believers will be vulnerable to discrimination suits and other kinds of bullying for their beliefs. Some may lose their jobs, promotions, businesses, political careers.”
Okay, what? What's that based on? In his little head he must think that progress for a highly discriminated minority is automatically and infringement of liberties of groups who are uninvolved in the process. Traditional believers will not be vulnerable in any way if same-sex marriage were to be legalised. It's a ridiculous claim that I never thought I would hear in my life.
If you scrap below the surface, though, a darker line of thinking comes to light, something that must have lurked around Fisher's mind for quite some time: the "vulnerability" that he so solemnly predicts, from the authority of his pulpit, would arise from bringing queer people on the same level as straight people in the workplace. It seems as though Fisher is protecting the status quo because the status quo protects traditional believers. If the people he mentions were to lose their jobs, promotions, businesses, or political careers, as a consequence of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, that would be happening entirely because of discriminatory behaviour against LGBT+ people. And if that was the case, I would be the first one kicking them out of their jobs. What Fisher's thought entails is that "traditional believers'" homophobia could cause them to have trouble in their social life. And my statement is, "As they goddamn should." If I was a queer Australian worker and a "traditional believer" was to be fired because of discriminatory behaviour against me, I would say "good riddance," and not lose a single second of sleep at night.
It goes without saying that Fisher completely glossed over the discrimination, verbal and physical harassment that queer people had to face, and still face, in the workplace as well as basically any other social situation. Generations of queer people had to shut up and carry on in highly homophobic environments, feeling threatened just because of who they were. In 2017, if anyone has problems with gay people, it's their time to suck it up — which should not be difficult either. An accepting straight man working with a gay man doesn't constitute a problem; an openly homophobic man working with a gay man does.
The "traditional believers" that the Archbishop talks about are bigots who, like him, believe that marriage is a luxury exclusively to be given to straight people. To people who exclusively believe in the traditional family, and other bullshit like that. Those people should realise that they don't live in some sort of religious bubble, but in a diverse, secular state, in which anyone should be allowed to be whoever they want, to marry whoever they want, and to follow whatever religion they want.
I battled my last years trying to give excuses for homophobia. "Oh yeah, but they grew up in that context, I can't blame them," "I can't judge them for what they believe." Fuck that. I'm never going to respect you for what you believe when you can't even respect my very being. You can think that who I am is unnatural, or whatever. I will accept it because, at the same time, I will be judging you very harshly. But I'm never going to respect you. I'm not going to suck it up and take it if you actively try and destroy my wellbeing. And it's even less respectful to use a position of authority to strengthen hateful thinking in worshippers' minds. It's shameful, disgusting, and angering. We cannot let some living fossils dictate who we should be with or what class of citizens we should be. My Pride flag hangs from the ceiling in my room, and I look at it every day, and in those colours I see that there's nothing wrong with me. A pathetic excuse of a priest can shout his judgements from the pulpit as loud as he wants. I'll just look and remember what drove me away from the catholic church in the first place.
Though I don't believe in an afterlife, and I truly think that after my death I'll just become a bag of dust, if I was to be wrong, I do hope that what religion teaches is right. I would be a dirty sinner and I would be sent straight to hell with a one-way ticket. People like archbishop Fisher, however, would be admitted in the glories of heaven. But that's okay (thank God, actually), because when I think about a hypothetical hell, I imagine carrying on for eternity sharing a space with people like him. I can't imagine anything worse.
Anthony Fisher's homily against same-sex marriage in Australia is ridiculously homophobic and saddening.