Much has been made of the passing of Jerry Falwell this week. Like most self-respecting gay men, I'm not all that sorry that he's gone.* He spent most of his life demonizing and marginalizing people like me. His words encouraged legions of wrong-headed, rabid, nasty right-wing "Christians" to beat us, murder us and deny us our rights. And he was curiously silent about the hypocrisy of it all. But he sure wasn't at a loss for words after 9/11, when he pointed his fat finger at us and said we were responsible. I think that's when he officially tipped over into the Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Zone.
Now, I wasn't a fan of Falwell's, but he and his followers never frightened me. I lived through a lot as a little Catholic boy, let me tell you! I survived it very well, thanks--I even enjoyed a lot of my childhood. But I was born the way I am. And if I was ever "on the fence," my childhood would certainly have knocked me right off. Look at the church I was baptized in, for Christ's sake:
turn out gay after they spent the first 12 years of their life in a church with a big penis on top??
I dipped my finger in many a cruet of communion wine when nobody was looking. And I still fondly remember the tornado drills we had in my Catholic school (not pictured here, because it was behind the Big Penis) in the 70s. (Since there was no basement, I can say that our drills consisted of a "crouch and pray" process, especially in the gym with the big glass skylights).
Furthermore, how could I possibly be afraid of Falwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk, when I spent four years with the folks below?
We're not talking televangelism here. No simple 45 minutes of speaking in tongues and wearing ugly polyester for US. We're talking about a daily mindf*ck that lasted an hour a day from 1976 to 1980. Religion class. Taught by Sister Bernice, or as I knew her, Sister Bernice of the Bad Breath.
Of all the teachers we had, Sister Bernice was the craziest. With the perpetually wide eyes of a herion addict, the aforementioned breath, which smelled like a farm during sowing season (and you know what that
means), and a quiet, intense voice stolen straight from Piper Laurie in Carrie
, Sister B. began our every day with religion class. Yep. Fire and brimstone, first thing in the morning, right after the PA announcements informed us we were having fish sticks for lunch. Being an academically underachieving child (who spent way
too much time watching "Maude"), religion class was an uphill climb. I was slow to understand the concept of venial vs. mortal sin. But I understood yardsticks. And Sister B. had a big one.
Besides her breath, how could I describe Sister B.? You remember that episode of "The Little Rascals" where the two midget thieves are dressed up as babies to gain entry into houses, where they steal silverware and valuables? Well, Sister B. looked like the little one with the scrunched-up face. With that personality and that face, her options were few: she was too old to date Tom Cruise, so besides Holy Orders, she really only had the option of opening a motorcycle shop, driving a truck, or running a tattoo parlor.
So, with that kind of conditioning, who would be afraid of a pudgy, doddering, grey-skinned old man who didn't even have a yardstick?*AUTHOR'S NOTE: And by the way, don't bother telling me how Falwell was a "child of God" whom we should be "trying to forgive" and whom "God loves as he loves all of us," blah, blah, blah. Eat my shorts. I'm sure he's got people rolling down the aisles in his own church doing that a-plenty. I'll pass. I'm not celebrating his death, but I'll be dipped in piss if I'm going to feel guilty, either.
Have a great weekend!