Friday, November 28, 2008

"Acceptance" Speech

"Acceptance" Speech
by Timothy Moranville

Sunday night, I, like most cinephiles and aspiring filmmakers tuned into the Academy Awards show on ABC. As usual, the members of the Academy didn't disappoint in making a political statement with awarding "Milk" several key Oscars. Having not seen the film (and barely having heard anything of it prior to its nomination), I cannot make any statement regarding the content or thesis of the film. The only information I have to make a judgment on the film's socio-political statements are the comments made by the writer of the film, Dustin Lance Black, in his "Best Original Screenplay" win; and the lead actor, Sean Penn, in his "Best Actor in a Leading Role" win. Both speeches were more than just traditional acceptance speeches- both were meant to be "acceptance" speeches. What I mean is this: both men used their allotted 45 seconds in the global spotlight to preach acceptance of homosexuality and "gay rights."

In Dustin Black's speech, he gushed about how a kid raised in a "repressive, conservative, Mormon family" could find the strength to embrace his identity as a homosexual. He concluded his speech by saying, "... I think he'd [Harvey Milk, the film's subject] want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures who have value. And that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you."

My main issue with Black's statement is that he addresses "gay and lesbian kids." This seems to be a recurring theme in homosexual activism- the overt recruitment of children and teens to the homosexual lifestyle. I'm sure most gay activists would see themselves as trying to help teens with homosexual feelings embrace who they are. But, the majority of the rhetoric seems to try to push children and teens to become homosexual because it's "cool." Saying there's nothing wrong with being gay may be the way things are worded, but the undercurrent seems to say, "be gay because it's who you are," whether a teen has those proclivities or not. The gay activists seem to have a major issue with "right wing militancy" in pushing an anti-gay agenda, yet fail to see their own militancy in the recruiting of young children to the homosexual lifestyle.

I would venture to say most teens are strongly heterosexual. I'm not sure how many teens would claim to be homosexual, but I'm sure they're in a small minority. My point is this: they are children and as such are impressionable by all the influences around them. The more they are told, "gay is OK" and "embrace who you are," the more likely they are to call into question their own sexuality. In a world that is increasingly accepting of homosexuality, asking 16 year old boys and girls to question their sexual identity seems to be a way of pushing them toward choosing homosexuality. While I certainly don't have time to discuss all of the issues surrounding the homosexual agenda, I will say that there is little logic in the homosexual activism of today. Logically, if the homosexuals become the majority, where will the next generation of homosexuals come from? Of course, that's the next frontier for the homosexuals- marriage and family.

Which brings me to Sean Penn's "acceptance" speech. He began by remarking that he wrote something down, "just in case you were all a bunch of Commie, Homo-loving sons-of-guns." Interestingly enough, I was under the impression the award was for Penn's acting skill and portrayal of a character rather than his ultra-left wing socio-political views. Again, I haven't seen the movie, so I can't address Penn's acting. I can say as a matter of personal opinion I don't think he's that great an actor. The Academy tends to honor people who do something political or "bold" in their films (a la Penn's "I Am Sam" win; Charlize Theron's "Monster" win). That said, who didn't predict a man who played a homosexual would win the award for best actor? Yes, the Academy tends to be left-leaning (Commie) and accepting (homo-loving). But, I'd like to think the voting members had enough integrity to choose Penn because he portrayed his character better than the other nominees. Sadly, I know I'm all too idealistic in that view.

Plain and simple, Penn won because the Academy wanted to make a political statement to the world- "Homosexuals have rights too, and one of those rights should be to marry!" If this isn't obvious on the face, Penn makes it clear in his "acceptance" speech. He rages against the voters of California (and other states) who voted to deny the "right" of homosexuals to marry. He says that the grandchildren of those who voted for Prop 8 will be ashamed of them. While he does make a good point in criticizing those who picketed and shouted [most likely] anti-homosexual slogans, he is wrong to say people should be ashamed that they exercised their democratic right to vote their consciences and reject a measure for a government to condone a lifestyle they disagree with. In saying, "we must have equal rights for everyone," Penn (like most gay activists) is comparing the plight of the homosexual to the plight of blacks in the early 20th Century. To be fair, there are those who treat homosexuals as less than people. There are those who think all gays should be rounded up and exterminated. But, the sad reality is that the homosexuals bring this upon themselves. In a way, they want to wear that "badge" of persecution. What other incentive would they have in voicing their sexual orientation? As cold as it may sound, I must admit, I don't care whether someone's gay or not. What you do in the privacy of your home is between you and ultimately, God. I don't share the sordid details of my bedroom goings-on with the world, so I can't honestly understand why the homosexuals feel they must. Ultimately, what I care about is this: can you go to work every day, do the job you're assigned, and contribute positively to your community?

The constant cry from the gay community is that they can't be who they are in front of the rest of the world. My counter argument is this: yes you can! In just the same way a heterosexual couple can walk down the street hand-in-hand, homosexuals can too. To the same degree I would say, "get a room" to a heterosexual couple who seems to think their PDA isn't overdoing it, I'd say it do a gay couple. I can't engage in heterosexual activities at work either! That's called sexual harassment. Why is it that the homosexuals seem to feel like their "rights" are being denied because they can't be open at work? To be honest, I think they're more ashamed of who they are than they let on. Most co-workers I've had would be shocked if a co-worker admitted they were gay (although some wouldn't be surprised), but I doubt any of us would treat that person any differently than before they came out. In fact, I think most people I've worked with would become a little more sensitive about telling "fag" jokes. As I said before, as long as you can do your job, I don't care whether you're gay, or any other minority (religion included). We don't all have to approve of a certain lifestyle to respect individuals who embrace that lifestyle.

So, what's a Christian perspective on these "acceptance" speeches? First of all, homosexuals are people, and they deserve to be treated as such. However, this does not lessen the Christian obligation to call sin sin. In the same way a man who cheats on his wife is rightfully called an adulterer, the man (or woman) who has sex with someone of the same sex is rightfully called a homosexual. While we call sin sin, we must be able to forgive sin and accept the sinner when they repent. As Jesus said, "is it not the sick who need a doctor?" If we were all perfect, there would never have been a need for God to become a man and die on a cross. In just the same way I expect to receive forgiveness for my shortcomings, I must be willing to forgive others for theirs.

Second, the Academy Awards are not a place for political statements! I don't think I should have to further comment on this, but I will. I personally think the awards should be given to deserving nominees who excel in their craft. Whether a film has a certain political orientation should not factor into its nomination or winning an award. What Hollywood needs more than Jesus is to get back to the basics- storytelling and art! If "Milk" told a great story (and perhaps it did), it is deserving in my book of awarding. Whether that story is about homosexual activism or not should have no bearing. We all have a story to tell, and when a story is told well, it should be praised. Yes, it should be dissected for its positive and negative aspects, but a moral or political position shouldn't disqualify a story from being well told.

Finally, there is a difference between embracing yourself for who you are and pushing who you are on others. Speaking strictly from personal experience, I am Catholic. That is at the core of my identity. Every decision I make [should] take my Faith into account. I am not ashamed of being Catholic, and freely share what my Faith is about with anyone who asks. I am not afraid to tell my co-workers I am Catholic. Most of my co-workers aren't Catholic, but some are curious and feel comfortable asking questions. Others are uncomfortable with Catholicism, and would prefer that religion not be discussed. Personally, I don't feel that the workplace is a place to be discussing religion or politics. For the most part, it is a well-known fact that I am Catholic, but not the center of every conversation. Furthermore, I do not push my religion on my co-workers. A lot of my co-workers (owners included) are Mormon. Obviously, there is a lot of disparity between Catholic and Mormon theology and belief. Having a very logical and historical view of Christianity, I could spend time pointing out these differences and attempting to convert the Mormon contingent. I am content to answer questions when they arise but never bully or preach to them. I am comfortable with who I am, but I don't feel the need to push myself upon others. If people like me because of or in spite of my Catholic Faith, great. I hope they like me because I work hard, am friendly, respectful, and empathetic. I know I like them for those reasons. Sure, deep down inside, I wish everyone would be Catholic. But, I know that not everyone has the capacity to embrace the Faith I hold so close.

My message to the gay activists would be: just because you embrace who you are doesn't mean you have to push yourself on others. If being gay is at the core of who you are, that is your personal decision. Being able to tell your co-workers you're gay doesn't mean you proceed to attempt to get everyone to experiment and experience your lifestyle. Just because I don't support your "right" to marry doesn't mean I think less of you as a human. It just means that I think the intrinsic nature of marriage is for the purpose of procreation and complimentary companionship. Marriage isn't just about living together or calling someone your spouse. It's about making a lifelong commitment to share life's journey with someone. Part of that journey is reproducing and raising children. Because I view marriage as a Sacrament- which is a means through which we receive Grace, I believe it is impossible for someone engaging in a completely sinful relationship to then channel that Grace on a daily basis. Part of our receiving Grace is that we are willing to repent of sin, receive forgiveness, and resolve to move forward away from that sin. In order for a homosexual to truly receive that Grace, they must be willing to abstain from sin, which homosexual acts qualify as.

I should leave this up for discussion now. My major problem with the "acceptance" speeches of Black and Penn were that they did very little in the way of thanking anyone for recognizing their craft, but rather attempted to chastise anyone who deems the homosexual lifestyle as immoral.

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