I was walking home the other night, it was dark already, and like always I passed St. Catherine's Church. The protestant church in which I had sung Mozart's "Requiem" with the school choir, in which our school held a memorial service after 9/11 and which gave the street I lived on my entire childhood and youth its name. I've been passing that church on my way to school and university all my life. It's neither a very beautiful nor a very impressive church. Especially not since they painted parts of it yellow about a decade ago. This yellow is supposedly its original color and a lot of old buildings - castles, churches, watchtowers - are painted this yellow. Still I always felt it diminished the church's impressiveness. It hid the old stones, their ruggedness, their irregularity, their individualism.
When I approached the church that night, the doors were wide open, the warm yellow glow of church lights and candles spilled onto the cobblestones and I could see people standing inside and outside the church. Some event, I thought, a concert, a reading, a special mass. And then I went back to thinking about a scene of a TV show I had watched on DVD earlier. When I saw two nuns approaching the church, it struck me as rather amusing that the scene I was thinking about involved rather explicit gay sex between two men. It was a scene from the probably most sinful and offensive TV show ever shown, "Queer as Folk". At least sinful and offensive in their eyes. I think there isn't really anything worse (morally, crimes excluded) a person can choose to do than to live a homosexual lifestyle, in the eyes of the church. In my eyes it was one of the best scenes of television I had seen in a good long while, certainly better than most scenes in straight "soap operas" like "The O.C." or "Sex and the City". The handheld camera, the scarce lighting, the blue color filter, the unusual close-ups of body parts you don't normally see in close-ups. This was the technical side of it. But the content of the scene was just as great to me. I liked Brian and Justin, as characters, and the dynamic they had in their bumpy relationship, that never truly got defined as anything, was entertaining and moving to watch. I could sympathize with them, I could see what they saw in each other and they looked beautiful together. In the sea of straight love stories out there in the world of movies and TV, it was refreshing to see something I hadn't seen a thousand times over, a new spin on things. After a while all the stories and plot twists wear off and don't move you anymore. The first few times you still feel a stab in your heart (as a girl anyway), but that soon stops, when you've seen the story between boy and girl over and over.
To me the scene between Brian and Justin was sexy and touching. And not sinful or offensive in any way. But when I saw the nuns, it made me wonder this: does my open-mindedness make this life easier or harder to live? I don't have anything against homosexuality, big age differences between couples, pre-marital sex or all that other stuff religious people might take offense on. As long as people are happy with their life's choices that is. Choices. The part that's harder the more open-minded you are. The more possibilities you could accept and want, the tougher it is to make up your mind which one is really the one for you. There's more places you have to seek out if you're open to a lot. There's less things and people you turn and walk away from because you object to them, what they stand for or what they represent. Much like a tiger in the wild you explore a bigger territory than a tiger in a zoo. Don't you have to, when the world is virtually limitless to you? Why choose to stay in closed quarters if there are no boundaries reigning you in?
I have never been a religious person, I haven't been brought up with religion and after informing myself (intensely) about various ones, there is not a single religion I can get on board with. I agree with some of the lessons taught, that's for sure, I certainly live by some as well, because they make sense, but I disagree with most of the prohibitions and regulations, subjecting people, keeping them small, keeping them afraid of an intangible parent figure, condemning others who have done nothing to ever harm anyone.
So while I sometimes wish for more guidelines in this overwhelmingly diverse world, I don't envy people who follow guidelines without questioning them first or adjusting them to their own needs. And by guidelines I don't mean laws, I don't mean adjusting "legal" and "illegal" according to your own needs. I mean moral values. Of course not everybody has to accept homosexuality as normal, right, respectable or whatever, I can't demand that. But how much easier would life be if we stopped getting so worked up about some of the moral issues? No protesters are gonna turn gays straight, no condemning condoms is gonna stop sensible people from using them to protect themselves from HIV (on the contrary, condemning condoms causes a lot of problems, but that's a different story). In the end everybody just gets revved up, the protesters and the ones protested against. I say have a little more faith in God to find the right punishment if there is supposed to be one and in the meantime worry about your own business. I see a lot of untidy backyards everywhere. They need some cleaning up.
All this flashed through my mind while I watched the two nuns enter the church. Briefly I wondered about nuns going into a protestant church. Then my thoughts returned to Brian and Justin. I wondered if in real life I could get along with them. Not with the fact they are gay, I have gay friends and it's totally normal for me, but with their personalities. I decided I would have a problem with Justin's immaturity and Brian's insensitivity. But I also decided Brian was very much a person I want to be more like. He doesn't give a fuck what others think, he doesn't need anyone's approval, he makes up his own rules by which he can live. Yet he stands up for his friends, is brutally honest but means well and doesn't let little things ruffle his feathers when it's unnecessary. Living in the now and confident about who he is, he roams the streets in pursuit of happiness. Constitutional right, anyone?
He sure isn't a saint and most certainly isn't easy to love. But once you start loving him, you can never stop. Some people worship the ground he walks on, despite his flaws - being aloof, arrogant and unapologetic - because he has an aura, a presence. Being with him you don't need to justify what you do. If you feel like it, do it. It's what he does. He accepts people for their desires and needs (given they are not straight, he's a bit of a heterophobe). He hates people who hide what they truly want, who are cowards about who they are, who deny themselves joys in life because others might disapprove. He knows who he is and from that knowledge can draw conclusions about other people, he can read others extremely well. It's his self-confidence he exudes through every pore that makes people flock to him.
If I, roaming the streets in pursuit of my happiness, could manage to achieve and maintain even half of his amount of self-confidence and general attitude, I think I might find what I am looking for a little easier. I think I will make up more of my own rules, try some new things, open my mind just a bit more and see where else it leads me. Ultimately while on this earth I have to answer to myself. And I don't have to apologize to anyone for who I am or what I do.
A scene popped into my head, where Brian talks to his mother's Reverend at the bar (about being a good son and stuff like that), while Brian orders some drinks. And when the drinks arrive, he smiles at the Reverend, says "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to hell", turns and walks over to Justin to kiss him. Thinking about it, I smiled, turned back towards the church and quoted this line out loud before I went on my way.