In a few short days, I’ll be debuting a new show. To those who have followed my work, I understand that the topic (faith) and setting (a church) feel like they are coming out of left field. And that feeling couldn’t be more right — that’s why I’m doing this show.
Granted, I’ve written about Christianity a bit, both here and at It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, but it would be accurate to say that Faith is not my usual go-to topic when I hop on stage. In fact, I’ve never talked about faith on stage, and, if I’m being completely honest, I feel palpably uncomfortable in churches. But again, that is, in essence, why I’m doing this show.
Christian/Religious people don’t often engage in dialogue with Atheist people. Straight/Cisgender people don’t often engage in dialogue with Queer people. Don’t get me wrong: there is a lot of talking at these different groups, but that’s not the same.
There are a lot of “national conversations” led by members of all four of these groups, but so few actual conversations. And who’s leading those conversations? Who do we have speaking on behalf of us? Are we comfortable with everything those folks say on our behalf? Do we (whatever We you are) really feel that way about them? (whatever Them they might be).
There is this idea that there is no common ground, that we’re all at extremes, we’re against, at odds, “irreconcilably different,” fundamentally opposed. These are identities that are thought to have clear lines in the sand — party lines, political lines, permanent lines. Us. Them. And a big gap between the two.
But here’s the thing: I don’t buy it. Any of it. I think we’re getting duped, that an extremely vocal minority is misrepresenting the majority, and that we’re more alike than we are different — at least where it counts. From my perspective, it’s becoming more and more clear that’s the case. But I’m aware of how odd my perspective is at times. I’m hoping this show will help build a bigger Us and a smaller Them.
There’s this thing about me — about my identity — that mixes people’s signals
I’m not gay and I’m not Christian, and these are two things that people are surprised to find out (if this is news to you right now — surprise!). So many people assume the opposite that I’ve become accustomed to correcting people, sometimes even before they say anything — an anticipatory strike. And when I do that, I never hear “Oh, I didn’t think you were,” but instead “Really?!” or “How did you know I thought that?” or (the most common) “Are you sure?”
“But what you’re doing with your life is so Christian.” “But you smell so good.” “But…” “But…” But…” The responses to both my not-gay-ness and not-Christian-ness are many and varied and not worth getting into here (so many for the gay assumption that I wrote an entire show about it).
I’m hoping this show to serve as this middle part of the venn diagram that brings these four distinctly different groups together
I’m an atheist who is often assumed to be a Christian, a straight, cisgender man who is often assumed to be queer. As a result of that, or at least as a result of me engaging with those confusions, I’ve had a ton of conversations with people who fall somewhere into all four of these groups. And what I’ve found is there really aren’t four groups at all. Instead, there are a ton of individual people who align somewhere on, between, beside, or outside of each of those dimensions.
A lot of good can come from this conversation, if we do it in a healthy, non-threatening, safe way. It’s a conversation that’s already ringing in a lot of folks ears, but by no means the majority. I’m hoping InTolerance will help folks feel more comfortable joining the conversation in their own lives, and nudging that seemingly-silent minority toward a vocal majority.
Hell, or maybe it’ll just be fun to tell stories and laugh for an hour in a church. I know it’ll be a first for me. I hope to see you there.