The Mormons have come under a considerable amount of flak because of the substantial financial and related efforts put forth by the Church to enact the recent Gay Marriage Ban, via the Prop 8 Ballot in California. See Wedding Bell Blues.
In order to prove the depths of their religious bigotry, Brigham Young University has entered the fray by censoring a Fine Art Portrait Project submitted by a student, which subtly touches on the issue of homosexuality.
Michael, the art student, explains his Fine Art Portrait Project:
These portraits are of students of BYU who identify themselves as homosexual and a person that supports them. With all of the dissenting views regarding this topic in the past few months I have felt very strongly about this project. The portraits will be shown in pairs. The idea is that there are gay and lesbian individuals not only in the Mormon culture, but also at BYU. I also chose to photograph someone who is a support to this person. This could be a family member or friend. This support person may also identify themselves as homosexual and both people may provide support to each other. I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.In addition to the one above, his poignant portraits can be seen here and here.
Unfortunately, hate -- unlike beauty -- is not just skin deep. Hatred and bigotry permeate to the core of one's essence, especially when it is based upon religious beliefs.
In proving the truth of this philosophy once again, BYU removed the artists work from the program, without even discussing it with him beforehand (or afterword, for that matter). Michael describes the disrespectful manner that BYU handled the situation, Censorship Sucks...:
Apparently the topic of homosexuality is a bit much for the BYU audience and my part of our Fine Art Classes show was taken down today. It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me. I found out because a friend of mine went to the show and said that my peices had been removed and the show had been rearranged. While I knew this topic would be controversial (in fact I expected that this would ruffle some feathers) I never thought that they would bring it down. Also I wish that they would have asked me to remove it, or at least had the courtesy to ask that I remove it or discuss it with me prior to its removal.Unlike Michael, I wouldn't have expected anything else. After all, sanctimony knows no bounds or limits. As I noted in God Is Not Gay: "Rather than staying true to their mission of faith, and spreading god's word, these churches have bastardized Christianity, making religion a mockery of the fundamentals of faith. I somehow don't think God is too happy -- or gay -- about how he has been co-opted in this way."
On an unrelated note, I must admit that the portraits have sorely challenged my Gaydar!
(UPDATED: Fixed links)
Artist's statement for the Project:
“Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term ‘we’ or ‘us’ and at the same time decreases those labeled ‘you’ or ‘them’ until that category has no one left in it.”
- Howard Winters