Monday, December 12, 2011

this season of love

The local Methodist Church has a tradition of putting up tableaus during the Christmas season. The twist they never fail to provide is that the visuals are always themed to vexing and contemporary issues. Methodist or otherwise, the effect is usually troubling, affirming, destabilizing, and heart-warming—all in one breath.

Keeping in line with the partisan divides in California around the issue of homosexual rights, the tableau this time has three slides each showing variations of cohabitation: (l-r) a man and woman, two men, and two women.

The California Marriage Protection Act, or what is now in common parlance Proposition/Prop 8, bars homosexual couples from rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. For instance, because marriage is legally defined as a heterosexual union, heterosexual couples can claim each other as dependents when filing their income taxes. Prop 8 bars homosexual couples from doing so. Prop 8 has done the rounds at the annual ballots. Repealing the Act still lingers in a hazy future.

The tableau is apparently an affirmation of solidarity with homosexuals and the efforts to repeal the Act. I am yet to articulate my own investments on the issue. May be it’s because I still haven’t weaned from my own hetero-normative socialization. May be it’s because of personal issues whose scars have taken too long to heal. But I do veer towards affirming the co-equality of all human beings irrespective of gender, race, class, or sexual orientation. Which is why I found myself drawn to the tableau in quite a profound manner. Even as our thoughts merge during this season around the Jesus of Nazareth and his endearing message, I am reminded, as the caption in the tableau-front suggests, “to love those who are different” and toward whom my least reaction would be respect and acknowledgement.

On a more personal note,