Thursday, June 20, 2013

Geek Television -- By Us, For Us, OF Us . . . and For Others

When the phrase "Geek Television" hits my ears, I immediately think of "The Big Bang Theory." I know, it's not what some would call true geek television. Science-fiction! Discovery Channel! Nova! Anime! A sitcom about four awkward men's lives isn't what most geeks would consider Geek Television. Some would even say that TBBT has sanitized geek culture, made it palatable for the masses, even diluted it.

But when I think of geek culture as a whole, I think of community. And that's what "The Big Bang Theory" has revealed to everyone about geek culture. We see the friendship and camaraderie of geeks in all of their idiosyncratic, awkward splendor. Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj don't claim their vocation as scientists as their badge of geekdom -- it's through gaming, Dungeons and Dragons, comic book collecting, and countless hours of arguing about pop culture details that we see the bonds of community forged tighter than Superman's outfit. In fact, the show never succeeds quite so well as when we see these four reveling in that which makes them geeks. Whether purchasing a prop from "The Time Machine", playing Mystic Warlords of Ka'a, or thumbing through comics in Stuart's comic book store, these four characters rely on the right to assemble as the agent that binds them all.

The series solidifed this in the season 6 episode "The Bakersfield Expedition", where the men's female counterparts buy some comic books to see what all the fuss is about, and end up heatedly arguing over comic book character minutiae. It proves that the activity gets us involved, but the community keeps us enthralled.

It's because of shows like TBBT that the rest of the world has a window into our geeky lives. So soak it in -- we've got the world watching us now.

There Is No Box.
Zach

The Gay Marriage Tour Bus

Here's where I stand on the gay marriage issue.

*climbs aboard the bus*

Okay, everyone on, everyone on, feel free to grab a seat that's most convenient.  If you're a younger man, feel free to let an elderly person have your seat, especially if they have a cane.  Those things hurt.

Everyone good?  Okay, driver, let's hit it!


Okay, coming up on your right, I had my first gay experience when I was in high school.

 *thinks*

 Let me rephrase that... When I was in high school, I met my first gay friend.  He and I shared a couple classes together, and we were both musicians.  He enjoyed musical theater, and at some point, we even worked at the same restaurant.  I didn't know he was gay when I met him -- my gaydar hadn't been purchased, let alone calibrated.  But at some point during our friendship, the topic of his sexual orientation came up in conversation, and we talked about it only once or twice.  I don't remember the exchange, but it was cordial.  I asked questions, and I'm pretty sure I said something about it being a sin, although I don't think I sounded like a jerk.  We remained freinds, but not close.  We had a mutual respect for each other and I think we both felt okay leaving each other alone.

And if you take a look up here coming up on your left, you'll see that over the years, I've maintained friendships with people who were gay, both men and women.  I had a gay roommate who didn't tell me she was gay until about a week after she had conveniently left a collection of lesbian erotica on the coffee table.  There were signs that I didn't pick up on -- the stained glass flowers in the front window that were in the "gay pride" colors had faded from exposure to the sun, and I didn't know that they convertible with the rainbow sticker on the back belonged to her -- but the book pretty much made me go, "Oh.  Okay."  I'd worked with people who were gay, performed with at least one gay man, and have made several acquaintances over the years who were gay.

It was never an issue for me.  I mean, if you're gay, and you're going to live a gay lifestyle, I don't think there's a whole lot anyone that isn't heavily invested in your life can do or say to make you rethink your decision.  Besides, I figured it was more important to maintain a friendship with someone because of who they were, not what they did.  And I didn't consider homosexuality something that you were, but something that you did.

And yes, I used the word "decision".  You see, I figured that you can't be passively gay, just like you can't passively be a welder.  In order to identify as something, you have to take some kind of action that corresponds with it.  But don't worry, if you missed it, I'll have the driver circle around to it later.


And directly in front of us, you'll notice that the gay marriage debate has been on everyone's minds, especially those of you that use Facebook.  Hands?  Who uses Facebook?  Wow, quite a lot of you!  So you know what I'm talking about.  Well, we're going to make a quick stop right here so that you can get a better view.


I believe homosexuality is a sin.  That statement will make a lot of people angry, and I can't help that.  The Bible doesn't specify homosexuality as the only sexual sin, though, and I'm not talking about the list of things in Deuteronomy (remember, Jesus came to be the fulfillment of the law, so his sacrifice offers us grace -- Matthew 5:17).  I'm talking about what the New Testament refers to as "sexual immorality".

Now, that covers a WHOLE LOT OF STUFF.  Honestly, "sexual immorality" refers to any kind of sexual activity outside of the marriage bed, and the Bible defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.  It does this for three very important reasons:
1. God made the woman specifically for man.
2. God designed men and women to be emotionally compatible with and attractive to one another.
3. This is how God intended the family structure to be perpetrated.  Men and women commit their lives to one another, become one flesh, and multiply through procreation.

UNDERSTAND: I DO NOT BELIEVE SEX WAS CREATED STRICTLY FOR PROCREATION.  In fact, the Bible doesn't even teach that.  That is a flat out lie that someone perpetrated on us because they were afraid to allow themselves to be vulnerable on this topic, and it's HARD to be vulnerable, even with the people you're supposed to love and trust more than anyone.  If sex was created by God only for procreation and nothing else, he wouldn't have given us all those awesome nerve endings in our sexy areas.  God intended for sex to be pleasing to us; it would be stupid of us to assume otherwise.  But that phrase "sexual immorality" in the original Greek, means all sexual activity not in the marriage bed, so that includes adultery, sex before marriage, masturbation (don't get me started), bestiality, multiple wives or multiple husbands, and yes, homosexuality.

Now, if you don't believe that, I understand.  But this is what I believe, based on what the Bible says, based on the original Greek, and also based on the havoc wreaked in my life from some of these behaviours.  Now, I'd like to ask everyone that's still with me to hop back on the bus, because we've got another destination to get to.

Okay, everyone back in their seats and comfortable?  Okay, good.


Recently, I was working an open house event for my DJ job.  The event was hosted by a venue our company has a business relationship with, and I had my system set up and was there to answer questions about our services, which are included in the hotel's package.  One man was talking with me about what he would need for his event in December, and I immediately got the sense that he was gay.  I didn't ask him about it -- I mean, really, how do you ask without sounding absolutely stupid?  Finally, I found myself talking with him, his parents, and another man who I assumed was his partner.  However, I wanted not to assume the wrong thing, so eventually I asked, "So, this is for you and...?"
He obliged.  "Oh, it's me and him," he said, motioning to the man next to him who, up until this point, hadn't said a word.  We introduced ourselves and shook hands.  Cool.  No problem.

However, the guy's mother had to be sure.  "Is that a problem for you?" she asked.

I thought that was a loaded question.  I had to hesitate for a second because I had to remember that I was there as a representative of my company, not as a representative of myself.  And of course, our company doesn't discriminate in that way -- we've done drag shows, parties, union ceremonies, and I think we even did a pageant of some kind.  So I said no, I didn't have a problem with it.

In truth, if two men or two women decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together, I don't have a problem with it.  You can do that without being married, gay or straight.  And even though I believe homosexuality is a sin, that doesn't mean that everyone else I come across believes the same way.  I remember the scene in The Matrix Reloaded when Commander Lock is questioning Morpheus, and the subject of Morpheus' belief that Neo is The One comes up.  "Not everyone believes what you believe!" Lock says, to which Morpheus replies, "My beliefs do not require them to."  So, no, I didn't really have a problem with these two guys spending the rest of their lives together.  What I have a problem with is celebrating something I believe to be wrong.

Okay, we're gonna make another stop, and this one is where you might want to take some pictures.


My sister is gay.  I love her to death.

Several years ago, she and her husband, after having gone through several years of counseling, decided that they were going to divorce, and she began living a gay lifestyle.  There's more that goes into this story than the obvious "are you straight/are you gay" aspect, so I won't go into that, but this has caused some significant tension in my family.

My sister and I have had a special bond since I was very young -- she is 5 years older than I am, and I got along with her pretty well.  Because she's my family, I knew that I wasn't going to cut her out of my life when she told me she was gay.  I mean, why would I do that?  Why stop loving a member of your family because they choose to live differently than you?  What good will that do?  Besides, if I, as a Christian, am called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, then that means I need to be the hands and feet to people I already know as well.  It would be hypocritical of me to cut her off.

The woman she's with is really nice, and although she and I haven't had much contact with each other, I came to the realization that if I'm going to show Jesus' love to her like I would my sister, then I can't treat her any differently than I would treat anyone else in my family.  This is the person that my sister has chosen to be with.  So if we have a family function at our place, and I invite family, she's included in that list.  I even had dinner with the two of them and my nephews, and we got to know each other a little better.

Not long ago, my sister and her partner got "married" (gay marriage isn't legal in their state), holding a ceremony and having a reception and the whole thing.  In fact, several months ago, she asked if I was already booked because they wanted me to be her DJ.  I was flattered.  And thrown off a bit.  I knew there was the possibility that I might get assigned or booked for a gay wedding/union ceremony or something like that, but I never expected the first time I was asked about it to be someone in my family.

As it turned out, I was double-booked on the date they had scheduled, which was during a very busy month in the middle of the heavy part of wedding season, so I couldn't really get out of it.  But even if I hadn't been booked, I would have had to decline the invitation.

There's a part of me that, because I love my sister so much, wanted to be at their ceremony.  But I just couldn't.  As a Christian, there's a difference between accepting the choices someone has made in their lives and celebrating those choices.  Their relationship, while I accept it, is not something I can celebrate.  Here's a parallel -- I believe that abortion is morally wrong, but it is legal in this country.  So I can accept that abortion is legal, but I'm not going to congratulate someone if they decide to have one.  Likewise, I don't have to believe that gay marriage is right, but it's not going to keep certain states from making it legal.  People don't have to believe in what I believe in, but the fact that they don't doesn't ruin my relationship with God or undermine what I believe.

What's that?  You with the hand up?  Why couldn't I just go to the ceremony and support her?  Good question.  The way I see it, If I had gone to the ceremony, yes, I would have been supporting my sister, which I would be glad to do.  But I would have also been supporting the idea of gay marriage, which was the function of the gathering.  While I do love and support my sister, I don't agree with their lifestyle, I don't agree with their decision, and I wasn't going to act like I do by being there to witness and celebrate it.

In addition, and to a much lesser degree, I'm a worship leader and lay minister at my church.  Now, I'm not worried about the church getting caught up in any negative publicity or anything, but I have a responsibility as a Christian leader to show love without compromising my principles.  I honestly feel like if I had attended my sister's ceremony, I would have been compromising something I believe in.  I couldn't do that, and I don't believe for a moment that my sister would ask me to.

Ooh!  This is interesting right here.  If you look over here to your left, you'll notice that at my church, while we teach from the Bible and according to what it says, we have no problems whatsoever with any gay man or woman attending our services.  In fact, we have several gay couples that have attended for a few years.  Why would we deny them a chance to come to church and hear the message of God's love for us?  If a gay person can't feel comfortable and welcomed in a church, where the example of Jesus' love is supposed to be experienced more than anywhere else, then we're doing something wrong.

Another question?  Oh, just a statement?  OK... what if you don't believe being gay is a sin?  Well, like I said before, you don't have to.  But that doesn't mean that it's not.  I can understand that if you believe it's not a sin, you would be incredulous as to why I wouldn't be at my sister's ceremony... but then again, you don't believe what I believe.  I just want you to know that we see things differently, and neither you nor I should be shot down by the other because of that.  Instead, we should try to understand each other's perspective, and we can agree or disagree accordingly.


*stands up, dusts off jeans*
Okay, everyone.  Back on the bus.

I can't compromise my beliefs.  I think that as a Christian, I can afford to love those that I need to love by being kind, but also by being truthful.  One of those ways we are truthful is by standing by what we believe.  I believe the idea of gay marriage is inherently flawed.  I believe redefining marriage, legally or socially, to be something other than what God established it to be -- a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman -- is wrong.  It doesn't mean I'm intolerant, it simply means that I believe something that some other people don't believe.  But recently, as I've been seeing all of the pro-gay marriage sentiment on Facebook pop up, I feel like I can't remain silent on this topic.  I can't sit by the sidelines and remain passive in this conversation.  It's not in my nature.  I can't be happy about when another state makes gay marriage legal, and hearing so many of my Facebook friends championing this cause makes me a little unsettled.  I'm not saying this to make anyone feel bad, or to suggest a person shouldn't post whatever they want on their timeline, but I don't have to agree with it.  And no one can expect me to.  And I certainly don't fault anyone that doesn't agree with me on this issue.

Just to be clear -- while I believe that homosexuality is a sin, so is lying.  So is gluttony.  So is gossip, slander, maliciousness, insensitivity, violence against others, oppression, tyranny, and all the other things we know to be wrong.  So I'm not pointing a finger at anyone, because I've been guilty of many of these things, so I'm no better or worse than any of you.


So why am I making a statement about this?  If gay marriage was something that involved only you, and it's something that you and God have to work out amongst yourselves, that's one thing.  But the idea of legalizing gay marriage affects our society at large, and that includes everyone in that society.  That includes me and my family.  So I'm saying this now.

I've had this conversation with my sister, and she understands my position.  I'm sure she wishes it was some other way, and to a certain extent, so do I.

So here we are.  We're trying to cultivate love within our family.  I don't expect her to adhere to something she doesn't believe, and she doesn't expect me to go along with something I don't believe.  And we're okay with that.  We love each other, and accept what we can, and we move on.  That's what families do.


As we pull into the station, everyone, I just want to thank you for your time.  Those of you that stayed for the whole ride, I really appreciate your attention.  My hope isn't to alienate anyone, but rather, to spark conversation and understanding.  And if something comes up that we disagree on, I hope that you'll be patient enough with me to understand where I'm coming from, and I'll remember to do the same with you.

Thank you for riding the Gay Marriage Tour Bus today.  Please make sure you have all your personal belongings with you, and watch your step as you exit the vehicle.  Have a wonderful day!

There Is No Box.
Zach