Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Praying the (Metaphorical) Gay Away: Internalized Religious Homophobia in Genre Fiction

It’s often hard to be religious and queer. At least, depending on the religion. Many segments of Christianity as well as other mainstream religious schools of thought put queerness firmly into the realm of “abomination”, to some degree or another. A popular mentality in many conservative Christian sects is that queerness goes against the natural order set into place by God when He created Adam and Eve as partners, making same-sex attraction “disordered”. This often translates to an understanding of queerness as either a mental illness, which could be healed with prayer, or a vice that, like a desire to gamble or steal, can be resisted through faith-based strength of character. While this attitude is not representative of all religion, nor, in Christianity’s case, true to Christ’s actual teachings, the fact remains: it’s damn hard to be religious and queer.

And while it remains hard to find good representation of queer characters, and good representation of religious characters, you’re more likely to catch a Mewtwo at your local grocery store than you are to find a meaningful and balanced representation of someone who ticks both boxes.

Instead, we often see religious characters in genre fiction who, while part of a societal out-group that could stand as a metaphor for queerness, are not actually queer themselves. Furthermore, they often believe or have been taught to believe that this otherness is, yes, an abomination, leading them to make terrible choices based on their internalized hatred of themselves or others like themselves. Perhaps God has singled them out as martyrs, challenging them to live a godly life in spite of their inherent (ungodly) differentness. Unfortunately, these portrayals do nothing but serve the tired stereotype that closeted individuals are often responsible for anti-queer hate crimes, rather than dealing with the more realistic issues surrounding internalized religious homophobia.

Trigger warning for discussions of self-harm and suicide after the cut.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Angel and the Queer God in Rent

The musical Rent is probably not one that many people associate with Christianity—or with any religion, for that matter. There are only a few irreverent mentions of religion in some of the song lyrics, and if you have seen the play (not the movie) there is a brief scene where a priest yells at Collins for not being able to pay for Angel’s burial and uses the term “queer” to insult him. This seems pretty bleak from the religious end, but to me Rent actually has some amazing Christian themes. The basic message of the musical is to love everyone and to take care of the poor, vulnerable, and outcast in our society. Well, that’s basic Catholic Social Teaching right there. Sure, the religious institutions in Rent (and in real life) don’t always live up that message, but our small band of artists try to. In particular, they are shown how to love and live their lives by Angel. Angel is central to this story and the Christian themes of the musical, as they basically act as a Christ figure who leads the others through their actions. In this way we get an important story not just for queer people, but particularly for queer Christians. In this post, I will be referring to Angel with gender neutral pronouns since the characters refer to Angel with with both masculine and feminine pronouns and it’s not clear how specifically Angel identifies.

Angel

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Sexualized Saturdays: Yet More Mystical Pregnancies

Mystical Pregnancy BellaI recently started watching Torchwood for the first time, and I’m in love with the show. Unfortunately, I’m currently stuck in the second season, and I’m hesitant about continuing. Why, you may ask? Well, because the very next episode involves a mystical pregnancy, and that is one trope I have a hard time suffering through.

Trigger warning for brief mention of body horror.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Becoming Pandora

[Spoilers for Borderlands 2 Below]

When playing a game, there’s nothing more satisfying to me then when I can start to sympathize with the main antagonist. And there’s no character in the past couple of years that I can think of that has encapsulated this as perfectly as Borderlands’ Handsome Jack. When I began my new journey on Pandora, I hated him. I hated him so much, him and his stupid crystal pony and stupid surveyors. (GAH! Could there even be a more annoying enemy?!) I loved to hate him. Then I made it to the BNK3R and it all went to shit. And after going to the Arid Nexus it went even more to shit and I actually began to like him.

The shift from over-the-top despicable to 3-dimensional character who is still awful, but has motives that one can empathize with was amazing. One aspect that really helped propel Jack’s character was his relationship with his daughter, Angel. Fraught with power struggles on both sides and a general feeling of helplessness, it was something that so strongly motivated the now Hyperion CEO, but in ways that weren’t, and still aren’t fully known to the audience.There just wasn’t enough on their past together for me to be satiated. More. I wanted more. Luckily, Cybertronic Purgatory has taken up the slack with their fic, Becoming Pandora.

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