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Pride, the Dobbs Decision & Queer Anger

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

A Reflection by Dean Nathan LeRud

Last Friday, as the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the constitutional right women have held for fifty years in this country to make their own decisions about their bodies, Justice Clarence Thomas indicated in his concurring opinion that this ruling unlocks the door that Christian conservatives have been hammering at for as long as I’ve been alive: that family planning (Griswold), non-procreative sex (Lawrence), and marriage equality (Griswold) are next in line.

It’s convenient when the people who are opposed to you—to your body, to your desires, to your very existence—are so clear in their stated aims. It’s a kind of grace, in a way, because it’s so honest, so nakedly blunt. Justice Thomas, like the five justices who voted with him, is a practicing Christian. I’m not his pastor but if the traditions that bind us as brothers have any meaning at all he is part of my Body, just as I am of his. I made a promise at my baptism to protect and uphold his human dignity. I wonder what his thoughts are concerning mine.

When I came out, a timid and devout college student who wanted desperately to be a priest, Gay Pride represented precisely the kind of gay I didn’t want to be – the kind of gay I was pretty sure the church would never let me be: loud, boisterous, effeminate, pushy, hypersexualized, and embarrassing. Queer.

So I lugged this body of mine around, with a heavy dose of guilt, for years. It’s primarily served, in somebody’s memorable words, as the vehicle to drive my head around. The times when other parts of it (the ones below the waist) have come alive were frequent, furtive, glorious, and filled with shame. This is what generations of so-called sex education have done for us: taught us to be ashamed of our bodies and their desires.

When they started coming for our bodies, they started with bodies that didn’t look like mine: bodies of women, whose flesh has borne since time immemorial the projected fears and desires of m