Friday, April 22, 2016

Butch Makeover Planned For Queer Jesus

It becomes clear when researching masculinities studies that the most famous (and arguably most influential) man in Western history is being essentially ignored, as study after study re-treads familiar ground while acknowledging other men of mythology. Further digging reveals that some American Christians are most concerned with his image. “Real men” apparently are staying away from churches in droves, and “queer Jesus” is stated as a significant reason. The sonofabitch just isn’t as brash, brave, bold and bullying as an attractive messiah should be, and recruiters are concerned.

While I’m certain their definition of Queer Jesus departs radically from mine by virtue of more than a captitalized "Q", the general idea has been kicking around for ages. Comedians remind us that a Leftie Jewish boy of 32 who’s still single and at home with his mother should ring some bells. A gay sensibility of course reads “disciples and Mary Magdalene” as “fuck-buddies and a hooker for a fag hag”...perspective being everything after all: as it is in Topeka, so it must have been in Israel.

Religious theorists-cum-academics have traditionally been most comfortable with a neutered Jesus. While superficially queer-positive, the idea is actually there to reinforce the sex-negative propaganda it promotes. It’s deservedly losing currency, as some female colleagues attempt to insert “recently discovered" and highly suspect "evidence” supportive of female inclusion in a new but nonetheless heterosexist scenario.  It may not be such a tough sell either, because in effect it’s fundamentally homophobic: a carnal Jesus who is most definitely not a queer Jesus is one recruitment strategy that might just fly.


Christian fundamentalists don’t pay much attention to their messiah these days anyhow. We know the reason: his relatively sound message just isn’t hateful or competitive enough for the times. It’s devoid of the broad and violent strokes that contemporary ignorance demands, and anyhow it didn’t end well for him did it? In a world of manly winners and faggy losers, the unfortunate demise of Jesus makes him unquotably irrelevant as things now stand. Authority now seemingly belongs in the hands of crackers and crackpots when it comes to God’s alleged Word, and you can’t sell ethics in a trailer park anyhow. All the more reason then to deconstruct Queer Jesus, with no apologies for objectification.

First, and foremost, is he fuckable? If your taste runs to lean and vaguely hippie Mediterranean, then yes. A fine specimen of the type, actually. One who’s not likely to indulge in extreme manscaping or blowing his wad at the gym. Image wise, pre-Europeanization art suggests he didn’t quite have the shoulders and chest of a linebacker. He certainly manned-up at the temple, but the incident was pre-planned so he doesn’t score as a rageaholic on steroids. In short, there's not a lot to work with for a knockout online dating profile, but I'm OK with the apparent testosterone.

Going to character, he presents as loving, kind and essentially gentle, with a not-unattractive edge: he doesn’t undercut his intellect with a grab for the niceness vote. Generous in giving offense and nobody’s pushover, he clearly understands the power of forgiveness and the value of loyalty. Whether or not these qualities signify a secure and sexy masculinity is entirely point-of-view dependent. I’d argue for the affirmative. 

While Queer Jesus may or may not be the ideal boyfriend he tends to look significantly better from a non-masculinist perspective. More than a just piece of ass with a Messiah Complex, he’s certainly able to hold his own when viewed from outside a sacred-versus-profane argument. Essentially mythological, no objective truth about the man can be assembled from any sources. But you can say exactly the same thing about love's reality – especially when juxtaposed with the easily-busted romantic delusions we all indulge in with no regard for proof or critical objectivity.

The parallels we share with the life and early death of Queer Jesus are stark and confronting. With AIDS in the rear view mirror and irrational hatred on all the road signs ahead, queers don’t find it too difficult to see in Queer Jesus a fellow traveler if not a spiritual entity.  Christians on the other hand seem to be becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their own overarching concept of passion and martyrdom: taking one for the team apparently isn’t any big deal in the post-modern masculinity stakes.

We’re told times are tough. Looks like their queer Jesus may just have to man up, get a job and be a whole lot more competitive and gosh...normal. He’s been reinvented before and he’ll be reinvented again, but for right now he’s being subtly told to just grow a pair or fuck off out of church. 

It's all sounding very familiar.

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