Day 9: When All Evidence is Hidden

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Luke 1:39-40

If you have never read the conception of Jesus as a queer story, it’s probably because Mary seems straight–and straightness was always enough for you. But there are ways to read queerness in the annunciation story, and queer people do. Mary’s immaculate conception draws parallels for lesbian couples using artificial insemination. Mary’s run to Elizabeth can be read as a lesbian love scene. The angel Gabriel can be read as a genderfluid or intersex messenger. 

You could argue this is poor biblical interpretation, since there’s no evidence of queerness in the Advent stories. But the lack of evidence is precisely why we read these stories as queer stories: all evidence of queer love has been erased from the Bible (with the possible exception of David and Jonathan). Most likely Mary and Elizabeth were not lesbian lovers, but if Mary stopped to visit her lesbian lover on her way to Elizabeth, she would have “held these things in her heart,” as she did throughout these events. We read queerness back into the heterosexist stories we received because we are confident that God loves queer people and that their presence in the narrative is critical to our collective salvation. 

Amidst all the criticism of Qatar’s treatment LGBTQ+ people, not much has been made of the fact that are no openly gay players among the 830 or so footballers competing in the tournament. Compare that to 38 out players in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. We can recognize the reasons why male athletes may have a greater pull to conceal their sexual orientation. But we cannot, in good faith, believe that there are no gay players in the tournament in Qatar. Instead, it appears that all evidence of gay players has been erased. 

In moments–touches between players on the sidelines, the occasional gesture during a goal celebration–I imagine certain players are gay. But I cannot say for sure; instead, I read queerness where I can in the World Cup. FIFA locating the World Cup in Qatar signals to these men that they must continue to uphold traditional masculinity. They must continue to hide all evidence. Even straight players in solidarity are forced to hide evidence of allyship

Yesterday, the US Men’s Team posted several photos of brokenhearted players embracing their girlfriends. Their sorrow was public and sympathetic only in the context of heterosexuality. What would it take for a gay player to come out, even on the national team of a country that is in the process of enshrining gay rights into law? 

Perhaps, if we are lucky and if we create a safe world, the week after the tournament one or two players (most likely on the championship team) will come out. Perhaps, a generation from now, we will still be reading queer fictions into this tournament because the evidence remains hidden. If so, that would be a sin against the God who created and called each of these players.

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