Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Independent: Queer no more
22.5.2011 by Daphne Caruana Galizia

Note to Super One and Maltastar: the title is ironic, but you should be told that 'straight' is predicated on its opposites: 'bent' and 'queer'.

The Evangelical pastor Gordon Manche is upset because homosexuals picketed his River of Love chapel, carrying placards with messages like, 'I used to have ginger hair, but now I'm saved' and 'I used to be left-handed but now I am healed'.

This happened after he publicised a 'show and tell' – I believe they're called testimonials – by three unnamed men who described how they were homosexual until God converted them. Because they probably also believe that God made them (mandatory childhood catechism refrain: "Who made me?" "God made me."), they must be wondering why it took God so damned long to realise there was a glitch on the production floor and then go back to undo his mistake.

"There you go, old chap. You can run after girls now. But don't use a condom because I don't like them."

What's more, God hasn't sorted out that glitch yet, either. The factory seconds are coming out at the rate of one in 10, and they're taking over whole cities like San Francisco. Why, there are now more homosexuals per square mile than are there people with ginger hair, even in Glasgow, and God isn't doing anything about it except for the occasional spot of conversion in a chapel above a furniture showroom in Haz-Zebbug.

If Pastor Manche and his sheep are going to be consistent with the rest of what they preach, then it's not so much a case of 'I was gay but God converted me' as 'God made me homosexual but then changed his mind.' But let's not go down that road. We're dealing here with people who deny the existence of dinosaurs despite the evidence from fossils and the Malta Labour Party. If they think Tyrannosaurus rex is a hoax, they'll have no problem believing that a couple of magic spells performed in a prayer circle, while men twang guitars and women in bad clothes sway about with their eyes closed, can make Elton John fancy women.

People like Pastor Manche probably think they have evidence that it's possible for homosexuals to live heterosexual lives, because Malta, with its particular cultural and geographic difficulties, has a disproportionate number of homosexuals who are married to heterosexuals, and they're not exactly mariages blancs, because they have issue. The 'dinosaurs didn't exist' brigade think of this state of affairs as conversion, when really it's just a matter of pretending and must be a strange sort of hell for everyone involved.

Homosexuality is more visible now not because God is making more mistakes, which he might or might not correct later at the River of Love Chapel, but because homosexuals are not getting married to members of the opposite sex and pretending to be heterosexuals anymore. They might keep quiet about their sexuality, and decide that it's nobody's business but theirs, but they draw the line at getting married – and not before time, too. Enough lives have been wrecked through enforced covert behaviour.

Pastor Manche spoke on radio yesterday. He said that he feels "unfairly treated" and that the reaction to his stand-up show was "massively out of proportion". "Those three men did not attack anyone. They had a right to say that Jesus converted them, and they did not say that others need to change," he told his interviewer. Well, that's a bit disingenuous, isn't it? When you say that God converted you, it means that you were saved from your deleterious previous state, and again, this implies that all others who are as you were need to be saved, too. That's why people were upset.

Pastor Manche said that he knows of four homosexual men who told him that God converted them, and they are now married (to women). I couldn't help thinking of those side-splitting scenes in Bruno, in which Sacha Baron Cohen's character decides he can achieve success in the film industry only if he turns straight, "like Tom Cruise and John Travolta". He heads off to meet a gay conversion specialist pastor with hot lips, who studiously keeps his eyes averted from Bruno's black leather hot-pants and thigh-high boots, and then tries some straight-man activities, like suburban swingers' parties, boar-hunting and the army, all of which collapse in chaos.

It figures that Pastor Manche brought his gay conversion Evangelist ideas from the United States where, he tells us, he was a professional ballet dancer until he "saw God" ("He spoke to me, but I did not see his face"). Is professional ballet dancer here a cipher for homosexual? Or are we to understand that professional ballet dancers need to be saved, just like homosexuals?

Either way, Gordon Manche was "consumed by God" and "determined to preach" – and so he headed for Malta, an island with a heathen population and no churches, because the climate here is so much better than, say, Papua New Guinea. Besides which, if you try to convert a homosexual in Papua, they boil you and eat you.

Yesterday was much touted as the end of the world, the day of the Apocalypse, by people of Pastor Manche's persuasion. But I couldn't feel it from where I was sitting, and so I was able to type out this piece while keeping an eye open for great balls of fire. The pastor is keeping an open mind, though. The end of the world might not have happened yesterday, but he is convinced that we are "approaching the end of times", and like all other end-of-timers since cheap bibles became available in the vernacular, he points to earthquakes, revolutions, immorality, war and vice as the biblical heralds, the Four Horsemen, of the end of time.

Let's hope for his sake that those Four Horsemen don't turn out to be gay.

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