Queer/Religious Friendship in the Trump Era
12 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2020 Last revised: 6 Oct 2020
Date Written: August 26, 2020
Shortly after Black Lives Matter protests broke out around the United States this past spring, a curious protest took place in the state of Texas. Organized in response to the Texas governor’s coronavirus-related order to close businesses devoted primarily to the serving of alcohol, an alliance of Texas bar owners staged a “Bar Lives Matter” protest outside of the Texas State Capitol building in the city of Austin, while also coordinating a lawsuit challenging the governor’s order in U.S. federal court. This lawsuit instigated by the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance followed in the footsteps of other lawsuits brought by Christian churches around the nation challenging pandemic-related limitations on in-person religious services. In July, responding in apparent disgust to the activities of devoted drinkers in Texas and elsewhere, the well-known economist and liberal columnist Paul Krugman lamented the potentially deadly reopening situation facing U.S. schools and students in the fall, opining in The New York Times that “the reason we are in this position is that states, cheered on by the Trump administration, rushed to allow large parties and reopen bars. In a real sense America drank away its children’s future.”
In this (draft) essay, I aim to explore the pandemic pitting of bars against babies, and then too churches against children. Moreover, I will demonstrate that the constellation of competing interests present in the coronavirus pandemic—the defining moment of the Trump presidency—cannot be broken down along neat political affiliations or dispersed across predictable camps on either the left or right. Rather, what we are seeing again is the crisscrossing of political, religious, and sexual interests defying easy categorization. These days, indeed, it seems almost as if Gayle Rubin’s ‘80s-era “bar dykes” have managed to commandeer the contemporary Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance, and that Paul Krugman could have been writing for Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum rather than for The New York Times.
Keywords: queer, religion, COVID, HIV, pandemic, church, bathhouse
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation