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Friday, June 15, 2007

This Belongs on Page One in Headlines!


It's not just about being crazy. Tom found something to believe in. Who cares why he picked religion; some people turn to drugs, alcohol, or medication to drown their woes, so one could argue his route was positive. That he chose a good outlet for his escape from reality. Of course he took it too far, that much is evident, but when he was at his lowest, and clearly unable to cope with the problems and stress he was facing in his life, he found meaning in the chaos, and that's beautiful even if it was deluded.

He called himself Jesus Christ II. Of course he offended people; in fact he offended the very people who could have been his greatest supporters had he not infringed on their narrow scope of belief in what was "proper" and what was "improper" in relation to American Christianity. It wasn't enough that he himself was a believer -- a very true believer -- he didn't obey protocol and therefore deserved punishment.

Yet hundreds turned out for his (dare I say?) Christ-like sermons at churches throughout the Los Angeles metro area. And as much as these crowds could claim interest in the mere spectacle of the thing, is that really enough to get people out of the house and onto the church steps? Could there have been, perhaps, even an inkling of hope that this loon might be truly speaking the word of God? Of course he was crazy, at least in the total deviation from his usual behavior, but were his actions really so different from famed preachers like Billy Graham? He still spoke of love, and acceptance of Jesus, and trust and faith in God, just like any other minister.

Of course people would scoff at such a display; it was Los Angeles. But isn't it wonderful that Tom was able to find some positive meaning behind the religion that regularly dismissed him, as a gay man, as inferior and immoral? I think it's remarkable when the Bible is most commonly used today to justify hatred, segregation, and injustice that someone was able to look past the selectively-quoted yet terribly outdated social customs and grasp the declaration of acceptance and love for humanity that once was, centuries ago, the founding principal of the world's largest, wealthiest religion.

Though the overt nature of these proclamations is an attempt to explain love in the simplest of terms, one mind's desire and admiration for another mind, the undercurrent of his struggle to be accepted by society as a gay individual is obvious from his careful phrasing. And yet Tom signs his name boldly and proudly to his decree; the weight and direction of the letters show no hesitation in his belief in his words. He genuinely wanted to help people, he wanted them to see the same ray of light he had experienced. Is that so wrong?

Clearly, the hard transition from growing up in a repressive time (the 1950's) into one of a (slightly) more free environment (the 1960's) was something that Tom grappled with for the rest of his life. Though he ran in gay circles for most of his adulthood, he was never comfortable with himself enough to be openly "out," and often tried to mask his identity.

But for a few brief months he was happy and proud of himself as a person, and the path he had found. Is that so crazy?

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