‘The Devil & The Gays’ Talk @ RVT, 2nd April 2013, from 18:00

The Devil & The Gays Flyer

The Devil & The Gays Flyer

As part of Bar Wotever, the queer art and culture evening at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Tuesdays, I’ll be doing a talk called ‘The Devil & The Gays’.  It’s a 15-minute TED-style talk that looks at how the idea that gay people are going to hell took hold, how the devil has been used to demonise gay people, how this can affect an individual’s sense of self and how they can deal with this.

The talk is based on research I’ve done for my docu-short ‘The Face Of The Devil’ and beyond, as well as my own experience of having been expelled from a spiritual centre after three years of attendance, as they found out I was gay and believed this to be ‘spiritually incorrect’.

I’m often quite shocked by how vehement hatred, bigotry and ignorance towards LGBT people can be from certain religious / spiritual circles, and with over 1500 years of demonisation it’s no wonder that there are LGBT people who are, to say the least, conflicted between their sexual and spiritual identity, or believe that deep down they are wicked or sinful or simply ‘bad’.  It’s not just in Africa where Muslim clerics and Christian priests whip up mobs against gay people ‘in the name of God’, or in America where so-called x-gays like Linda Jernigan are doing their best to spread the view that “gays are part of Satan’s plan” – it’s being used right here in London to justify why same-sex marriage for the state should not be condoned, and it’s my friend’s mum who, after he came out to her a few months ago, told him he was going to hell and took him to their church where their priest told him the same thing.  There is just so much of it, and it is so deeply ingrained.

I would like to do more research into how different people cope with such demonisation and negativity, and any conflicts they may experience between their sexual and spiritual identities.  If you do have any stories or experiences you would like to share, any issues you may have or anything that could give some hope or inspiration to others, please let me know.

Spiritual and religious homophobia is incredibly persistent, because people believe it’s somehow ‘divinely justified’ or decreed, and that they are only acting according to their conscience.  While one 15-min talk won’t change anything about that, or even a 1,000 talks, it is a chance to learn about how this particular brand of homophobia has developed from a political and socio-historic point of view, but more importantly a chance to share experiences and hopefully reclaim some of our humanity back, if not our spirituality.

Not the most light-hearted of topics, but a very important one I believe.  I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

Menno

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If the shoe fits…

The Devil Wears Prada Film Poster

When the Devil Wears Prada was released in 2006, the poster featured a simple yet striking image of a red high heel with a pitch fork detail.  No horns, no hooves, no scary face or pointed tail are needed to identify the nature of the film’s main character – the simple use of this detail in combination with the colour red immediately makes a clear statement as to who this shoe belongs to, even without the me of the film.  It goes to show just how ingrained the image of the devil has become.  But how did a three pronged fork become his key accessory?  Is it related to the three pronged fork or ‘triton’ associated with the Greek mythological character of Poseidon, god of the sea (Neptune in Roman mythology)?  Or more with Hades, god of the underworld (Pluto in Roman mythology), although the latter is also often depicted with a two pronged fork or a wand.  There are also theories that the triton symbolises the idea of ‘holy trinity’ often found in mythology and religion, as well as being echoed in the field of psychology.  I’m off to investigate…

Poseidon & Hades image