By LZ Granderson
(CNN) -- On North Halsted Street, between Buckingham and Roscoe in Chicago, a monument stands with a plaque in honor of a brilliant thinker who is as responsible for the way we live our lives today as any person who has ever lived.
His name is Alan Turing, a Brit, and among his many credits and accolades, many historians refer to him as "the father of computer science." When Time magazine listed him among its 100 most influential people of the 20th century, it said "that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine."
Men attend the 2013 Capital Pride parade in Washington on June 8
A pretty high honor to say the least. And yet in 1952, while filing a robbery report with the police, Turing -- the man whose algorithms cracked the Enigma code used by the Nazis in World War II -- found himself arrested at his home in England.
His crime? Being gay.
Turing was convicted of "gross indecency," a felony in Britain at that time. He was forced to choose between prison and being injected with female hormones, a form of chemical castration.
He reluctantly chose the latter. Despite his accomplishments, he lost his job. And in June 1954, he lost his will to live. He was 41.
If the Western world is somewhat haunted by what Steve Jobs might have accomplished had cancer not taken him from us, we should be downright tormented by what we lost from the senseless excommunication of his predecessor.
Turing's plaque is one of 18 that make up the city'sLegacy Walk, which honors LGBT people who have made a contribution to history. It's a reminder of where we were and how far we've come. But as much as it seems the nation is talking about this topic, the fact remains that in much of the United States, it is still legal to fire someone for the same reason that Turing was fired 60 years ago in Britain.
Perhaps the prejudices in our rear view mirror may appear farther away than they actually are.
First same-sex couple marries in France
Celebrating gay pride in Tel Aviv
Atlanta Pride Parade
June is Gay Pride month. So if you find yourself exhausted from all of this gay rights talk and want to leave a not-so-kind comment on a story, remember it's because of an openly gay man that you even have the technology to do so.
If you're a black person who gets offended whenever the Civil Rights Movement is mentioned in the same sentence as the fight for gay rights, remember the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s close confidant and most influential mentor was an openly gay black man by the name of Bayard Rustin.
And if you ever find yourself wondering "How come there's no Straight Pride month?" I say the day being straight becomes a crime -- as being gay still is in many parts of the world -- start one.
Gay Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate not being straight but our right to exist without prosecution.
Just as Stokely Carmichael's "Black is Beautiful" became the rallying cry against racism in the 1960s; just as "I am woman, hear me roar" was the anthem against sexism in the 1970s; "gay pride" is the banner that flies over a people whose dignity continues to be put to a vote in 2013.
News coverage in June may focus on the celebratory nature of Gay Pride parades, but it cannot rewrite the history that made these parades an integral part of our survival.
Why isn't there Straight Pride?
Because Congress has yet to pass a law requiring people to hide the fact they are straight. Because the streets are not filled with children who have been kicked out of their homes for being straight. Because there seems to be a lack of stories in which someone has been beaten, tied to a fence and left to die or shot in the face at point blank range because they were straight.
For this Gay Pride month, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he expects to take up legislation to address workplace discrimination "soon." This month, the Supreme Court may make a ruling on whether or not same-sex couples can marry.
This month, 11-year-old Marcel Neergaard wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed that "during my first year in middle school, I experienced severe bullying. I was called terrible names that were quite hurtful. At that time, I had just realized that I'm gay, and the bullies used the word 'gay' as an insult.
"This made me feel like being gay was horrible, but my parents told me otherwise. Their support was tremendous. But as powerful as their love was, it couldn't fight off all the bullying. I don't want anyone else to feel the way I did. No one deserves that much pain, no matter who they are."
So maybe instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride month or movement, straight people should be thankful they don't need one. I'm sure Turing would have rather filed the police report and stayed home. I'm sure Marcel would prefer going to school in peace.
Hebrews 12:1 - Community Connectedness
As I lay in bed this morning, I started thinking about the interconnectedness of people and how throughout the ages, writers have drawn people together by making connections and inspiring their readers with things done by people of the past. Writer's draw these two groups of people who share something in common, but are separated by time and space into a community. When you look at it up close, the people may find themselves to be very different, but on some level, they are connected and therefore part of a community.
I couldn't help but think of all the times in the Bible where the writers remind the readers of those that have gone before, to make sure their accomplishments and mistakes are remembered and held up to help the reader navigate their own life path. One of my favorites is Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,The proceeding chapter goes through a list of people of faith and what they accomplished by their faith; the trials they endured and overcame because of their faith; the fact that through faith they looked at a goal that was beyond their lifetime and acted toward it.
Then comes verse one of chapter 12 and it draws us into community with these people and calls us to be inspired by their accomplishments and do likewise. In community with these people, we should see the end goal and live a life towards that outcome. To trade the future and long term goodness and harmony for the world at large for the instant pleasures of today for ourselves.
This is not an easy task, but a worthwhile one. One I try to choose each day. Yes, it is a daily choice to do this. Each and every day opportunities come up for us to choose a path that is easy or would bring instant pleasure that would direct us away from a future of goodness, love, and peace for the world.
Since June is Gay Pride month, I couldn't help but start thinking about the connectedness that I feel to the LGBTQ community and realize that it is very similar in nature.
If I look around at the people I interact with on a daily basis, they are mostly straight. I don't find myself spending a great deal of time in "gay" establishments, although I certainly have a proclivity to places and people that are gay-friendly (after all, who likes to spend there time in and around hostile places and people). What I do find is a strong tie of connection for me with the LGBTQ community. I desire for this community to feel at one with all of society and particular desire to build bridges between the LGBTQ and Christian communities (which is why I created Gay Christian Bridges). While I don't intersect with that community on a daily basis, I do find myself drawn to those "family events" that bring that community together. Last Sunday I walked in the AIDS walk. Personally I don't have, nor do I have friends that have AIDS, but it is something that has had great impact of the LGBTQ community and I want to do my part to support my community. Today, I will attend the Pride service at Arlington Street Churchfollowed by the Pride parade in Boston. It is not a community I hang out with frequently, but I feel the connection to the community and am inspired by people in it.
Just as the writer of Hebrews held up people who acted on faith towards an end goal of love, goodness, and peace, the LGBTQ community has people who have striven for an end goal of love, goodness, and peace.
I respect the members of my community that have gone before me and have stood up for the right to love the person of their choice, even if when those around them have not understood that love (just as Noah chose to build an ark when those around him did not understand what it was). I respect those who have chosen and stood up for being honest about who they were as a person, rather than hide in society and be what society wanted (just as Moses refused to deny his Jewish heritage even though he had been adopted into the house of the Pharaoh). These people saw a future where there was love, peace, goodness...and lived a life to bring it about, even though it was not in their lifetime.
Do you see a future? Are you willing to live a life to bring it about, even if that requires hardship or persevering through persecution? Will you be an agent that brings the world of love that God has painted for us?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I am Cara Oosterhouse, co-president of the All One Body board. This past Thursday I was honored to join several other gay and lesbian Christians at the Wealthy Theater in Grand Rapids Michigan to talk specifically about what those seven Bible verses regarding homosexual activity and in general about our faith. The night was filled with beautiful Christians professing their love and faith for their Lord and what He has done for us. If you would like to see more photos, please visit our Facebook page.
Here is the text of my remarks from the evening.
I am Cara Oosterhouse. I identify as a lesbian and I am a member of the Christian Reformed Church. I am also co-president of All One Body, a group of CRC folks working for inclusion in the denomination. We have information on the table in the lobby if you want to learn more about us.
The period of time when I came out to myself and to others was a very difficult time in my life, but it was also when I spent a great deal of time in conversation with God. It was a rich time in my faith formation and I always felt the love of God.
All the hours spent in Christian Sunday school and day school really helped lay the foundation I would need later to struggle with my sexuality and my faith. Part of that reminds me that sometimes we need to step back to move forward. Tonight we spent a lot of time looking with a microscope at a very few verses in the Bible. I believe the Bible is a terrible “how to” guide for many issues. I am disheartened by those who would discount the Bible as just stories that teach us how to live a moral life. The Bible is the narrative that leads to our salvation and a narrative of God’s AMAZING GRACE!!
I would like to read a quote about that amazing grace from Brennen Manning, a Franciscan priest, who recently died. He writes:
My life is a witness to vulgar grace-a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten to five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck towards the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw him a party, no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request – please remember me- and assures him “YOU BET”. A grace that is the pleasure of the father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left his Father’s side not for heaven’s sake, but for OUR sake-yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap – ITS FREE, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone it cannot cover.
GRACE IS ENOUGH
HE IS ENOUGH
JESUS IS ENOUGH
THANKS BE TO GOD…..AMEN