Gay And Lesbian Theologies
ROBERT E. SHORE-GOSS
Early gay activism1 targeted the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association—resulting in removal of the diagnosis of homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance, sexual deviation” in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual II.2 In addition, the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) organization in the world, and denominational church groups such as Dignity (Catholic) and Integrity (Episcopalian) were born to support gay and lesbian Christians in accepting their sexual orientation, integrating their sexual orientation with their faith practice, and attempting to humanize ecclesial opposition to homosexuality. Just as the “Black is Beautiful” slogan emerged in the 1960s, the 1970s produced the “Gay is Good” slogan.
The period that followed (commonly referred to as the “Reagan years”) was not so “good” for the LGBT community. The optimism of 1970s gay/ lesbian theologies receded with the ravages of the AIDS pandemic and the escalating social hatred of the churches. As HIV/AIDS was in the national spotlight on nearly a daily basis, the Religious Right agenda drew an inextricable link with homosexuality and gays and lesbians. Many infected with HIV and those affected by HIV found themselves defensive in affirming that sexuality is a gift of God, despite the condemnation of churches.
The various groups of the Religious Right were focused on a wide variety of political issues from abortion to anticommunism. With the end of the cold war, the Religious Right turned its attention to the gay/lesbian movement, opportunistically using it as mechanism for fundraising and galvanizing its membership against the threat of an internal homosexual menace.3 In the 1980s, translesbisexuals had responded to the AIDS pandemic as it affected gays, beginning a broad coalition based on HIV health issues and voluntarism in creating AIDS response organizations in every major city.