Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Good News: Kathy Baldock Works To Bridge The Canyon

Last week I posted about an NYT poll I’d seen that said, sometimes, by just talking about LGBT issues to people who might at first glance seem anti-LGBT, we can change their minds; that by just being out and open and our true selves, we can show people their fear and ignorance and intolerance is unnecessary [see that post HERE]

Well, Kath Baldock seems to be a prime example of that and talks about that very idea in her new book, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon. In it, she shares the story of coming into her home one day with her husband as the phone was ringing. Her husband answered and, as she listened to his side of the conversation, she understood that one of his friends had just died of what was then called “The Gay Cancer;” AIDS. And she remembers feeling dispassionate and judgmental; she thought that the way you contracted that cancer was through having gay sex, so death was, as she saw it, “foreseeable” and could therefore be avoided if gay men just stopped having sex. For her it was very black and white: stop being gay and you won’t die.

Shortly thereafter, Kathy went though her own upheaval, a divorce and a new life, though she says her faith, and her beliefs, never changed. But she started to walk, both physically and spiritually, as a result of the changes in her life, and it was while walking that things really began to change for her.

Along the canyon trail that she hiked regularly, Kathy passed the same woman every day walking in the opposite direction; Kathy sensed that this woman was very different than herself; she thought this woman was a lesbian. Out of the blue, Kathy asked the other woman if they could walk together, and as they did, Kathy came to realize that she no longer needed to “save a soul,” that she could just ‘be’ and that some of those souls she thought needed to be saved, did not need it at all.

The walk became an everyday thing with Kathy and her new friend Netto. Through Netto, Kathy met more LGBT community members, and she began to see that those gay faces were just the same as her; and she began to listen … Netto told Kathy that she could never feel safe in the places Kathy frequented, with the people Kathy knew:
“Look Kathy, you don’t understand. In this society, I’m the lowest of the low. I am a Native American. I am a woman of color. I have a Hispanic last name. I am lesbian. Not even God loves me.
Those last words hit Kathy the hardest. She had broken through the powerful truth that happens when regressive Christian dogma meets an actual living breathing LGBT person — the dogma falls apart.

And so, over the course of the next several years, Kathy wrote Walking the Bridgeless Canyon and began to bring together her LGBT friends and her Christian faith. Her book shares stories of Christians who were led to challenge their prejudices after they got to know The Gays; her book is a kind of history of the culture of the LGBT movement, the political and religious evolutions, the scientific facts of being gay, and of what the Bible really says about homosexuality, which, in reality, is really nothing at all.

One of Kathy’s key objectives is to fling open the closed gates of Christianity and make it accessible to those LGBT people who want it, and make it friendly again to those LGBT people who have endured its abuses.

And because of her own journey, because of that one day when she asked a fellow hiker if they could walk together, Kathy has created ways for Christians to respect their LGBT neighbors, one of which is recognizing that the LGBT person may already have a “journey with Jesus,” and does not need to be saved; she wants Christians to realize that LGBT people need to be respected and heard, and not simply dismissed with a wave of the hand and a, “You couldn’t have been ‘born gay’.”

Today Kathy Baldock is still working to make Christians understand that there is nothing to fear from The Gays, that we are all a lot more alike than we are different, and she has taken on some of the more vehemently anti-gay “preachers” and speakers, like Michael Brown, Robert Gagnon, Anne Paulk, and Scott Lively.

In fact, she recently smuggled a gay man into the church lead by “Pastor” Steven Anderson, who believes gay people should be executed; Anderson had recently declared that there would never be a gay person in his church and yet, courtesy of Kathy Baldock, that statement is just another of Anderson’s lies. Kathy believes that the hold pastors like Anderson have on American Christianity is not a good one:
“Unfortunately the list of Christians with literal, fear-inspired theology seems endless. Aside from the ugly street screamers, I’ve personally experienced interaction/meeting many who, in their zeal, are convinced they are flawless in their biblical interpretations and speak for God while doing significant damage to the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of the LGBT community.”
Today, Kathy Baldock, who once believed that a gay cancer was your own fault, works to fight against gay reparative therapies. She realizes now that being gay is just another way of being, and she is proving the point, that when people who have some sort of anti-gay bias actually meet a gay person, many times — not all the time, I am no Pollyanna — their views change. But they will never change if we don’t come out; they’ll never change is we sit in silence; they’ll never change if we don’t talk.

Talking is the way Kathy Baldock hopes we can bridge that canyon.

3 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

What a good soul. :-)

anne marie in philly said...

there IS light in the world today because of kathy.

Biki Honko said...

She is a true hero.