"I bet she's a dyke," said my mom the day after Jeanne Assam shot Matthew Murray at New Life Church in Colorado Springs on December 9. "Probably an ex-dyke, but yeah," I replied.
Gay families like ours—families that were living in Colorado Springs before the fundies began pouring into town in the '90s—care about details like that because the good folks at New Life have made our lives miserable. Needless to say, we drank deeply from the goblet of schadenfreude that Ted Haggard filled for us last year.
I attended the press conference at the Colorado Springs Police Department where Assam stood proudly next to New Life's new pastor. Brady Boyd, Haggard's replacement, recounted how God had blah blah guided blah blah blah Assam blah blah blah as she pumped several rounds into Murray's body. (But not the fatal shot—Murray delivered that one himself.)
I can't remember what Assam said exactly because I was too busy noticing what a complete dyke she seemed to be. Gruff voice, broad shoulders, muscular frame, narrow hips resting upon strong thighs, terrible Farrah Fawcett hairstyle, bad makeup. She was also 42, with no husband and no children, and had been a cop in Minneapolis. And here's the kicker: During her press conference she said, "God's gonna find me a man!"
How ex-gay is that?
Later that evening at a high-school hockey game, a bunch of my mom's dyke friends—all moms, like my mom—were cackling about what a total dyke Assam appeared to be. They, too, had seen the press conference. "Another one for the home team!" one of them said, and everyone giggled.
We felt sad for the victims, of course, but we were proud that New Life was in the news again and there was a lesbian angle this time—or, at the very least, an incredibly butch het angle. Someone has to point out that, yes, Jeanne Assam's a hero—and that's great, good for her—but her heroism is an outgrowth of everything that those New Life comesocks despise.
Whether or not Assam is actually a beaver diva or not, she's got the look, the swagger, the authority, and the career path of a totally badass butch dyke. Call me and my queer mom homophobic or sexist if you like, but face facts: Even if Assam is not a lesbian, she is the product of the lesbian/feminist political movement. Assam is a single, strong, independent-minded nonmother in her late 40s working in a field that, just a few decades ago, was the exclusive province of men. The women's movement and lesbian feminism can take credit for creating a space, culturally, for women like Assam. Evangelical Christians don't approve of women like Assam—except, of course, when she's saving their lives.
It was only a year ago that New Life Church sent Haggard into the wilderness without confronting the homophobia they've stoked—the homophobia that creates men like Haggard. Their new pastor, Boyd, did nothing to address the pain Haggard's hypocrisy caused the queer community in Colorado Springs, and New Life is still safe for misinformation, repressed sexuality, and homophobia. And how's this for irony: Not long after Assam was feted as the savior of New Life, it came out that the shooter, Murray, had been struggling with his own sexuality, something that apparently got him kicked out of Youth with a Mission, a 16,000- employee Christian organization that has ties to both New Life and the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International. In one of the web rants, cited by blogger Richard Rothstein, Murray, who identified as bisexual, wrote: "Using drugs, alcohol, and having gay sex, I'm just trying to do what any Christian pastor would do. At least I'm not doing meth like Ted Haggard."
The Colorado Springs Gazette also noted that Murray had been kicked out of a conference at New Life for "health reasons."
Luckily the leaders of New Life have women like Assam around to make it safe for them to continue tormenting confused, unbalanced kids like Murray.
Noel Black is the publisher of Newspeak (newspeakblog.com) in Colorado Springs.