I told you I had a couple of stories from my vacation. Here is one of them.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a thoroughly Christian town. They’ve got the Passion Play, a giant Jesus, churches everywhere, and lots of Christian establishments.
And by ‘gay’ I mean homosexual, not the derogatory use of the word. Half the town seems to be, support, or affiliate themselves with gays. We walked down the main street and every other business was waving a rainbow flag in front of it. Bookstore: gay. Art gallery: gay. Funnel cakes: gay. Year-round Christmas store: gay (probably.)
It wasn’t like I’ve never been in a gay part of town. I used to live near the ‘alternative’ part of Kansas City. It’s not totally gay, but it’s pretty gay. Still, this was different and I was a little nervous.
Here’s why: I don’t know what the rainbow flag means, or why it’s necessary or profitable. Does that mean that a business ‘supports’ gays? What support is required in a town that’s already half gay? Does it mean that the business is gay-owned, or gay themed or all the customers are gay? Are Christians, supposed to think twice about going into the gay bookstore? Would all the books be gay, or would there be some hetero books too? What about that gay coffeeshop? Coffee can’t be gay in the way a book can be gay. Maybe no one is gay; they just want to try to get gays to patronize their store.
Is there even a standard for the meaning of a rainbow flag? Could I fly a rainbow flag in front of my business though I’m not gay and I’m a Christian? Or would that be offensive?
Once, a group of friends and myself (all of us ‘breeders’) went to a restaurant in a ‘cultural’ part of town. We noticed the Maitre’d was gay, but didn’t think anything of it. About halfway through the meal, we noticed him greeting incoming patrons with a kiss on the cheek. Then we noticed we were the only…mixed group in the place. We had unknowingly gone to a secretly gay restaurant. No advertising, that’s just the power of word of mouth. The food was great and the service impeccable too, though none of us got a kiss from the wait staff.
So my wife and I wandered around and then stopped at a coffee house that didn’t appear to be gay. While standing in line, I noticed the four other customers: three men, without rings (at least on their fingers), and a woman who used to be a man. I looked back outside like a dork. Did I miss the sticker on the door? Was I supposed to be here? We gladly ordered our drinks anyway and sat down and for the next half hour, the coffeeshop was only two-thirds gay. Who knew that two whitebread straight suburban Christians could actually make a coffeeshop more diverse?
Was I supposed to feel uneasy, as a Christian, giving my money to a ‘gay’ business? I get the feeling some people would look at a gay coffeeshop and act like it might as well be a coffee/extremely-deviant-pornography shop. Is it any worse than going to any other business where you don’t know if the owner is gay or a wife beater or a crack head?
In the middle of our drinks, I noticed my wife had that morning inadvertently put on a necklace of little rainbow colored beads! Agh! We supported gays without even knowing it!
I’ve also found myself unsuspectingly in a gay bar. It actually took us a couple of visits on kareoke nights to realize it was a gay hangout. My roommate got some digits…from a very successful looking man in a suit. He also found himself unwittingly on a gay date. He thought they were just being new friends over dinner, until the end. He was always a heartbreaker.
It’s kind of funny that all kinds of people are suspicious of Christians, and they set up these little bastions of ‘acceptance’ and ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘free thinking’ that can sometimes end up being intimidating to the people they’re suspicious of. Is that exactly the point? Or is that just unintentional? Because say what you will about all your ideals about inclusiveness, people like to be around others who are like them, and many people in the ‘alternative’ side of society are suspicious of Christians, just as Christians are likewise. I noticed ‘Diversity Week’ in Eureka Springs doesn’t exactly celebrate the Christian heritage of the town. It celebrates gays.
Here’s the question that puts all this into perspective: Would a gay guy hesitate for any reason to enter a shop with a Jesus fish on the door? Would it be a wise business decision for an accountant to put a giant Star of David outside his door? Probably a double edged sword.
Who makes their group look worse to outsiders: annoying evangelicals passing out tracts door to door, or annoying gays parading down main street in leather and body paint?
I feel like I have to make a disclaimer that I am in fact asking honest questions, not being rude, because that’s the state of things today. Every Christian is supposedly a ‘homophobe’ who needs ‘diversity training.’ Actually, I don’t think I should have to make a disclaimer because it’s my blog and I can say what I want. But while I welcome even comments that call me out, I don’t want a bunch of comments accusing me of being a bigot. That’s a popular word these days. So consider this your disclaimer.
What’s your perspective on the relationship Christians should have with non-Christian gays? I didn’t really make any points, but I think all my questions show that there’s a lot to be worked out, so feel free to fire away on any or all of them.