Nuke the Gay Whales

Nuke the Gay Whales

When I was about ten, some of my conservative Catholic pals and I had a joke where we would say “nuke the gay whales”. I don’t remember where we heard it, but I remember laughing.

The point of the joke was to spit in the eye of The Liberals, because even at that age, I knew that The Liberals hated nukes, loved gays, and cared about whales.

It’s weird that it never occurred to us that Catholics, too, are supposed to hate nukes, love gays, and care about whales.

I also remember laughing when the other boys in my conservative Catholic high school told casually, vilely racist jokes. I knew that racism was something that The Liberals hated, so I knew that laughing at racist jokes was a kind of inoculation against liberalism.

We begin by hating the the evil in our enemies. That’s good. But we move from that to hating the good in our enemies, too–simply because of where that good is located: namely, in our enemy’s heart.

This is where we get the curious phenomenon of Christians who laugh at environmental destruction, Christians who wink at homophobia and Islamophobia, and Christians who tolerate or dismiss racism.

I hate racism. I hate the ideologies of white nationalism and white supremacy. I hate Nazism, neo- and otherwise. I hate that these shameful ideas are closer to the mainstream than they have ever been in my lifetime. I hate how similar the vilest alt-right propagandists sound to the talk show hosts I grew up listening to.

I hate that it is safe for a Nazi to show his face in public, but unsafe for a black man to have a conversation with a police officer. I hate that it is controversial to say that black lives matter.

I hate my complicity in these evils and others–my own evil, believe me, is not limited to the right or to the left; it is enthusiastically bipartisan. Yet, somehow, in spite of all this, I love myself. Maybe it is possible to love others the same way.

Let us keep hating and fighting against bad ideas, whoever holds them. Let us keep loving and fighting for good people, however wrong they are. When we do this, we may find that we have new and strange companions. And we may find that the people who used to be our companions are now very strange to us indeed.

Photo credit: Sam Austin

19 Comments on “Nuke the Gay Whales”

  1. M says:

    Since when is it dangerous for a black man to have a conversation with a police officer? I’m sure Allen West would refute.

    1. If you’re really unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, the below is a reasonably good place to start reading. The article’s from 2015, so the list does not include incidents that have happened since then.

      The killing of Philando Castile is another recent example.

  2. Maria says:

    Why was this even published? I’m conservative AND CATHOLIC. This doesn’t describe myself or my family members at all! Another person giving Catholics misinformed representation!

    1. I’m so glad that this doesn’t describe you and your family members! I, too, know so many wonderful conservative Catholics that this piece doesn’t describe.

    2. Ben says:

      Maria – this was published because while your family and family members might not fall into this category, your experience and personality does not represent the entire catholic experience. As gay and a former Catholic (convert), I encountered plenty of wonderful AND conservative Catholics. I also encountered plenty of the type of thinking and behavior described in the above article. Simply because you don’t see it or haven’t encountered it does not negate its existence. To broaden the scope, conservative Catholics were often far better about expressing racist, homophobic, Islamophobic etc. sentiments than their evangelical or secular conservative counterparts. Thankfully, Catholic morality did seem to curb some of the vitriol (but obviously not all). My two cents.

  3. Robert Alexander says:

    Do you condemn the neo-Communism of the violent Antifa anarchists? What about the violent anti-cop rhetoric spewing from the Left?

    Until liberals forcefully and openly DENOUNCE the rampant violence of the radical Left, their words are hollow and their outrage false.

    1. I think it’s perfectly possible to be outraged at one evil that exists without simultaneously being outraged at every other evil that exists.

    2. Hung Kok says:

      Get rid of neo-Nazism and Antifa will follow. I forcefully and openly DENOUNCE the ignorance of anyone who disagrees, as their words are hollow and their outrage false. See what I did there?

      Generally, leftists are not completely anti-cop; they are really protesting the abuse of law-enforcement. Thugs above the law are complicit in the chaos.

  4. Andrew (@CircleReader) says:

    I love your insight about starting out hating evil and ending hating enemies. But we are not only fighting good people with wrong ideas, but evil ideas that have corrupted both hearts and societies. In fact, it’s kinda hard to say who is a “good person;” and it’s probably counterproductive to judge, if were using that to decide who we’ll love & fight for.
    Following that, I’d make one small change in your last paragraph: “Let us keep loving and fighting f̶o̶r̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ for the good in people, however bad or wrong they are.”

    1. That’s a good change! You’re right, what I really meant is that we should fight for people, full stop.

  5. K Bell says:

    I’m stealing your quote about hating the evil and then the good in our enemies. I think it perfectly describes what’s been going on between people, especially since the election. And the politics that are finding their way into my Church break my heart.

  6. Bruce Lewis says:

    You’re a good guy. Wish I lived closer to you so we could be friends. I admire gay dudes who are spiritually oriented.

  7. Bruce Lewis says:

    Dear Mr. Gershom. I have been lurking on your posts for some time, because, for one thing, I am your co-religionist, and for another, I both agree and disagree with you about how Catholic spirituality should be lived out by gay men. One thing I’d hope to discuss with you, if even “vitually” is the idea of Alan Bray, about “sworn brotherhood” (because, you see, I DON’T believe that gay folk should lead a “celibate” lifestyle, but DO believe that we should lead a “chaste” one–and there IS a difference).

    I think that if you read through some of the debates I have with folks at AMERICA magazine, the publication of the Jesuits in the United States, you may understand what I mean by that:

    1. Bruce Lewis says:

      “virtually” (sp.)

  8. Brad says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It came at exactly the right time.

  9. BB says:

    “It’s weird that it never occurred to us that Catholics, too, are supposed to hate nukes, love gays, and care about whales.” That says it all, doesn’t it? The morality of “Christian” conservatives has gotten so far out of whack that I don’t even know where to begin addressing it. The Republican Party has become fundamentally un-American, and one of the greatest drivers of evil in the world. Yet they still cling to that cross and claim to follow Jesus.

  10. Amir Safayan says:

    When I was at IU Bloomgton ( 1979 – 1983 ), I was “visiting” the men’s rest room at the Geology Department.
    On the wall of the stall, written in the grout between the brick was “Nuke the gay Iranian whales”.

    I had a great laught with my wife and two boys about this just yesterday. I was born in Iran and raised in Indiana.
    I’ve been called a sand “n word” and also once pushed from the back down a long table John Wayne western movie style. These events don’t bother me in the least.

    We came to the US in 1964 and went straight to Jackson, MS at the height of the civil rights movement. Americans are generous and kind by a large majority. We have so much to be grateful for and easily forget how good we have it. Occasional travel to the third world is a great reminder of just how good America is.

  11. Jesse says:

    I like a lot of your stuff, but I’m really not a fan of saying that those who support homosexual acts and civil “marriage” between two members of the same sex “love gays”. They don’t. Affirming actions or proclivities contrary to the will of God and the doctrine of the Church is the exact opposite of loving those who struggle with them. This goes for any sin, not just homosexual acts.
    I know one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had since coming back to the Church was being told at a retreat that a young woman’s relationship with her girlfriend had “drawn her closer to God” and leaving it at that. I felt that my sins and sinful predispositions had been affirmed, because they had been. I can’t think of much less loving that withholding the grace of God by withholding His Truth.

    Peace, Brother,

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