Can’t Convert Us!

Apparently, there’s something about a pack of queers and transfolk that makes the evangelicals absolutely desperate to save us. In the month that I’ve been living in Chicago, I hadn’t been approached by a single evangelical (prior to this weekend, anyway). I go out with friends, and in seventeen hours, we get approached three separate times.

Last time first: we were wandering around Lake Michigan, waiting for the sun to rise. A group of people started at us about saving our souls and whatnot. I’m not even sure what they were doing — it was so early, it was still dark out. There wasn’t anyone else around. By this time (i.e. after we’d dealt with two other sets), we just walked right past them. Talking to them (arguing with them?) takes too much energy.

Person concerned for our souls #2: In the middle of Boystown (Boystown, of all places!), there was a preacher person. He stood on a crate, shouting about about the danger our souls are in, that we need to repent, blah blah blah. Our mere presence managed to scare him into be quiet and leaving his pulpit (well, two of my friends making out directly in front of him might have had something to do with it — apparently, “teh gay” is scary).

Time the first (save the best for last): We congregated near Water Tower Place for a massive cardboard tube fight. Three people came up to us, asking what we thought would happen after we died. We had a general consensus that after we died, we’d be in the ground. They tried to preach to us a bit more, but they failed and eventually went away. One of them then came back, asking what we’d do if a friend was going off a cliff (implying that they were trying to keep us from going off a metaphorical cliff into . . . I don’t know — queer debauchery, moral turpitude, and eternal damnation), which led to later discussions of the marshmallows and rainbows that we thought were on the other side of the cliff (and the unicorns that we decided would help us to the marshmallows and rainbows).

I would’ve felt bad for the poor girl, given that it was six of us and only one of her, except that she was the one who kept coming back to us and trying to convince us that we need god in our lives to save our souls. She tried to make us prove why we didn’t believe her god exists (my attitude was “no, no, the burden of proof is on you to prove why something exists, not on us to prove that why it doesn’t”). The last time she came back, she tried to give us cards telling us about how god loves us, and it looked as though she were about to cry over our poor, lost souls.

Her biggest mistake was probably trying to tell us that god forgives all of our mistakes (in response to us telling her that we’re not so keen on groups that condemn us for being queer). Implying — to this group of out and proud queers — that being queer is a mistake? Bad move. She picked the wrong people. We were just out having fun, and we weren’t about to put up with people telling us to turn away from our sinful lifestyles.

I just don’t understand what she thought she’d accomplish. She should have been able to tell within the first thirty or so seconds that it was just a waste of time. It made for an interesting experience, though, and it led to the creation of new lyrics for an old song (the old song was about reindeer; the new song was about zombies), so it was worth it in the end, I suppose. It made me think of high school a bit, actually (“You need to come to rosary”).

It’s easy to laugh it off with friends (because really, it was sort of funny, and it was rather entertaining to mess with their minds), but if I stop to actually think about it, it makes me a little sick. It’s an casual reminder that there are people who honestly believe that not being heterosexual is morally wrong and a sin for which one deserves to burn in hell. The Texas GOP platform, for example, argues in favor of bringing back sodomy laws and making it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple (not that gay marriage is legal in Texas anyway) — because “the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.” It actually share remarkable similarity with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Overall, while the street preachers and evangelicals are often just a nuisance and likely mean well in their own ways, I always feel there’s something a little sinister about them. How do I know that they aren’t the type who think that I, and people like me, shouldn’t exist?

2 responses to “Can’t Convert Us!

  1. This story reminds me of my favorite scene in a book I read over the summer, The Unlikely Disciple, which you would really like, by they way.

    A little background: The book is about a sophomore at Brown who is Quaker and liberal, etc. who decides to spend his spring semester “abroad” at Liberty University (Jerry Fallwell’s college) in Virginia. His goal is to blend in to get a sense of these people in their ‘natural habitat.’

    The scene that I thought was hilarious/really interesting: He goes on a spring break trip with others from Liberty to Daytona Beach, Florida. The trip is all about ‘saving lost souls on spring break.’ The poor kid, in an effort to fit in, has a super awkward moment where he approaches a group of hot, bikini clad women who happen to be Jewish. When everyone is debriefing at the end of the day, he starts to feel sorry for them a little bit because of their zero success rate, but then acknowledges that if he were on spring break in Florida, he wouldn’t give these people the time of day either.

    It’s an interesting situation and an interesting book.

    Tying it back in with your post: These people go through intense training and are taught that what they’re trying to do is possible, so, to them, it’s like if your soul isn’t saved, they’ve failed at their task. A full day of trying to convert people later, they can get very distraught and persistent. That being said, the more they see that their life paradigm is not (even close to) universally shared, the less they’ll keep on trying (hopefully…) so good for you and your friends for not caving!

  2. I know how you feel (well sort of…not on the gay level), but yes on campus I had several evangelical people come up to me and tell me to my face that I was a whore, and dressed in a way that made men lust after me.

    I just laughed. Because honestly, that is so hypocritical. I’m sure if there is a god, he wouldn’t tell people to be self-righteous assholes telling other people they are ‘whores’ and ‘satans harlots.’ But be proud of yourself and your friends that you don’t let society intimidate you into being something you are not.

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