At what point does one become an expert in something? If memory serves the journalist & ex-table tenis player Matthew Syed suggests about 16000 hours. 16000 hours in order to become a top quality basketball player or kick-butt artist.
Such a calculation is always questionable, but – in this very brief blog post (no time today) – I feel moved to respond to data in a recent Church Times survey about attitudes towards ordaining ‘practicing homosexuals’. When I read these results I asked, via tweet, how those of us who are fully-trained or expert ‘homosexuals’ (when I say that word I forever say it in an RP/1950s whispery voice emphasising the 'homo' bit) are seen.
Ok, it’s an old joke and it’s a joke grounded in a deliberate misreading of the word ‘practicing’. But as dear old Jacques Derrida reminds us it is often in jokes and puns and ‘mis-hearings’ of our systems of writing that the problems and aporias in our language are revealed. The very notion of ‘practicing’ or ‘non-practicing’ gay folk reveals the attitudes and prejudices implicit in church discourse about people like me.
I don’t blame The Church Times as such. I am very fond of it and it has been incredibly supportive towards my writing. I take that as a token of its breadth. Yet when we talk about practicing or non-practicing LGBT* people we have already decided how being queer is seen. It has been trapped in terms of an expressive/non-expressive account of gender and sexual being. Once again –and I’m rather sick of pointing this out – it places identity in a category of lifestyle choice. And it will not do.