How Pride Month Taught Me the Power of Spirituality
Since it was Pride Month, I googled the pride flag to explain to my eldest the meaning of the flags around town. I went with the traditional rainbow flag and explained the basics of the acronym LGBT.
When the conversation was over, I decided to do some exploring, knowing that there was at least one newer rainbow flag. It turns out there are multiple varieties, including the very first one which was the six-colored rainbow plus two more stripes: hot pink and turquoise. Then there was the Philadelphia version, which adds black and brown stripes to the six rainbow colors to denote the intersection of LGBTQ and racial minorities.
Likewise, we’ve likely all seen the increasingly popular Progress Pride Flag which takes the rainbow flag and adds five triangular stripes on the left: black and brown (for racial minorities) plus white, pink, and blue (for transgender). Recently, the Progress Pride Flag has gotten an additional upgrade by adding the yellow-and-purple intersex symbol to the left of the 5 triangular stripes.
It turns out the rainbow flag is just the beginning of the pride flags.
Bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, non-binary, trigender, transgender, gender fluid—they all get their own bright, multi-colored flag. I discovered flags for sexual identities I had yet to hear of, such as “bear pride,” “lithromantic,” and “auto sexual.” One poster featured so many flags that literally every pubescent human belonged somewhere, even those not considered LGBTQ. This poster featured no less than 47 multicolored flags, with a 48th colorless flag tucked away at the bottom right corner, which blandly alternated between black and white stripes. It was called “heterosexual.”
This poster was the first time I had run across the identity “skoliosexual.” The word seemed to combine “sexual” with a root word used in the medical field (e.g., scoliosis). Healthline had an article called “What Does It Mean to Be Skoliosexual?” It explained that skoliosexual refers to “people who are attracted to people who are transgender or nonbinary.”
Let me take a moment to lay out the article’s structure, because I found it fascinating:
Here’s what “skoliosexual” means….Yet “skoliosexual” means different things to different people….Some people question whether the term is needed, since “trans men are men and trans women are women,” so using the label might unnecessarily set trans people apart as “other.”…Some people feel that that the prefix skolio is unnecessarily negative, because it means “bent” or “crooked,” as in scoliosis’s abnormal curvature of the spine….Others prefer to avoid labels entirely.
The article ends with an ethical green light, an ethical red light, and one piece of medical advice. The green light: “Regardless of how you describe them, your sexuality, orientation, and identity are valid.” The red light: “Nobody should impose a label on you, nor should they tell you that your orientation is wrong, inferior, or invalid.” The one piece of medical advice (in the entire article): “No matter who you’re attracted to, try to practice safer sex if you’re sexually active.”
Healthline’s article taught me more about Healthline than about skoliosexuality.
Any medical advice a reader should expect from an organization called Healthline was eclipsed by saying over and over in multiple ways, “Here’s how skoliosexuals feel about skoliosexuality, and whatever they feel is valid and unable to be criticized.” Even the sliver of medical advice about having “safer sex” was generic enough to avoid causing any offense. “Safer sex” is a safer phrase than “safe sex,” a phrase which sounds more like it’s actually prescribing something.
Then, when I saw the name of the author of the Healthline article, I had a déjà vu moment: No way. I think I’ve seen this author before. I checked, and I was right: The author of the Healthline article was a regular contributor for an intersectional feminist website from which I’ve read numerous articles: EverydayFeminism.com. I try not to be alarmist, but I’ve consistently been surprised at the radicalness of the activism I’ve seen there.
Instead of giving medical advice on LGBTQ issues, Healthline was offering LGBTQ activism written by an activist.
This was a health website taking cues from activists. The only rock-solid conviction the article seemed to offer was that, whatever LGBTQ activists believe, it’s valid, true, and inviolable.
Consider this: That’s a seismic shift in authority for a website whose tagline is “medical information and health advice you can trust.” It is alarming that even people as seemingly unbiased as medical professionals could hasten to respond to the whims of activists.
You have gotten this far in my meandering journey of web scrolling and cultural philosophizing, and I hope you find the payoff in what follows.
If 2021 is a year in which sexual activism can dress in a lab coat and be honored as objective science, to what can truth-seeking people appeal if they want to, in the words of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “live not by lies”? What can brace our backbones so that they don’t break?
The answer will surprise those of us who tend to see the physical world as the solid, unshifting ground of truth. The answer is spirituality. Spirituality has the power to brace our backbones.
Companies tend to cave when they stand to lose money. Politicians tend to capitulate when they stand to lose votes. Even medical organizations can turn into propaganda dispensers.
Scan the horizon in search of who has the guts not to become a mouthpiece of LGBTQ activism, and who do you find? Churches.
I’m not talking about Christians whose social posts are intentionally inflammatory and whose churches are unkind. I’m talking about Christians whose tone is gracious but whose convictions are secure. People who follow a different authority when it comes to sexuality.
This is the power of spirituality. It is the person “whose delight is in the law of the Lord” who becomes the steadfast “tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:2-3).
When grounded in God, spirituality gives us a spine. The pursuit of pay, power, and prestige combine to form, not a spine, but a stick—the kind that comes with strings to manipulate a marionet. Thanks to Pride Month for teaching me the power of Spirit-braced spirituality.
When grounded in God, spirituality gives us a spine.