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John Paul ITO
Handel—Another Gay Anglican?
Was he or wasn't he? The literal answer is no; despite the monument in Westminster Abbey, he wasn't an Anglican, and the word "gay" is problematic when applied to citizens of the 18th century. That's a cop-out, of course; the fuller answer, developed in more detail below, is that while there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other, he may very well have been. But more important than the answer is the question of why—and in what way—we should care.
On the morning of the consecration of Gene Robinson, an openly partnered gay man, as bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire, I remember reading a quote in a Charlottesville newspaper from a member of a group of gay Episcopalians, comparing those who opposed the consecration to Nazis. Passions were running high, and I tend to blame the journalist who wanted something catchy for the story more than I blame the person quoted—I trust he thought better of it later. Nonetheless, as a theologically conservative Episcopalian, I felt seriously offended.
The basic pattern is a familiar one. Anyone opposing what might be described as a gay political agenda is in danger of being accused of anti-gay bias. For example, in a post dated February 15, 2007, on the gay-rights website Box Turtle Bulletin (boxturtlebulletin.com), Jim Burroway reports, "Many of my gay and lesbian friends assume that anyone who went to these [ex-gay ministries'] conferences would be filled with incredible hate toward the gay community. When I attended the Love Won Out protests in Palm Springs last fall, I was dismayed to see that the local protest organizers kept pounding on the word 'hate,' declaring Palm Springs a 'hate-free zone' and characterizing everyone associated with Love Won Out as being motivated by 'hate.' "
While it is patently false to assume that any opposition to any aspect of homosexuality must result from bias, that doesn't do anything to diminish the evangelical image problem in this area. And it may possibly ...