Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shout Out to Allies (Song of Songs 1:4b; 5:1c; 5:8-9; 6:1; 6:13a/7:1a; 8:5a)

In celebration of the US Supreme Court striking down DOMA and Prop 8

(Daughters of Jerusalem) Oh, you are sweet; let us drink you!
                                                You make us higher than any wine. (1:4b)

(Daughters of Jerusalem) Eat, friends, and drink!
                                                Sate yourselves, oh lovers. (5:1c)

(Audacious Woman) Oh, you daughters of Jerusalem,
                                                I swear to you –
                                                 if you find my lover tell him –
(Daughters of Jerusalem) Tell him what?
(Audacious Woman) Tell him I am dizzy with love!
(Daughters of Jerusalem) This shepherd of yours – tell us
                                                                how is that he is so better than the others,
                                                that you, the most beautiful among women,
                                                                should search for him in the night?
                                                Tell us, tell us – what does he have
                                                                that makes you swear of your love? (5:8-9)

(Daughters of Jerusalem) So where did he go, this lover of yours,
                                                oh, most beautiful among women?
                                             Which way did he turn, this sweet shepherd?
                                                We will seek him with you! (6:1)

(Daughters of Jerusalem) Turn, turn, Oh Shulammite,
                                                turn, turn; turn before us,
                                                 that we might gaze upon you. (6:13a or 7:1a depending upon the translation)

(Daughters of Jerusalem) And who is here, coming up from the fields
                                                of the gazelle and the deer – so weak
                                                with her love she must lean upon her dear? (8:5a)
Song of Songs

Kindergartners Support Acceptance
Who are these “Daughters of Jerusalem” in the Song of Songs? Why do they continue to be misunderstood by straight commentators? What import might they have for queers?

Some commentators also add to their voices verses 1:8, 3:6-1, 6:10, 8:8-9. Commentators tend, with good reason, to see the Daughters as a kind of Greek chorus giving directions of plot for the reader to transition through gaps in the narrative. Yet, unlike the Greek chorus, the Daughters never directly address us the readers of the Song.

Instead the Daughters address the audacious woman of the Song. They praise her lover “You make us higher than any wine.” They cheer her in love making, “Sate, yourself, oh lovers.” They tease her, “This shepherd of yours – how is he better than others?” They join her in the hunt for the lover, “We will seek him with you.” They encourage her, “Turn… that we might gaze upon you.” Finally, they laugh when she is weakened by love, “And who is here, coming up from the fields… so week with her love…”

Straight commentators have missed the true role of the Daughters, for straight commentators seldom need to have allies defend their expressions of love. The audacious woman and we queer people do. The woman has already told us she is outside the bound of respectable behavior (Forbidden Eroticism). Like her, queers have been told, and in certain circles are still told, we are outside the boundary of reasonable erotic behavior.

Enter our allies and friends – straight people who, out of love and their sense of equality, stand with us in the midst of the prejudice. Straight allies play an essential role in combating bullying and championing for queer youth in school, queer colleagues at work, and queer family members at home. Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, supportive family, friendly co-workers, all act in ways to provide safe places to be queer that the queer movement by itself cannot provide. Like the Daughters of Jerusalem, allies make significant contribution to the wellbeing of queer people through understanding and acceptance.

For many queer communities June is Pride Month: a time to be visible and loud in all our rainbow beauty. Some of that beauty is the allies in our lives, without whom we would be confined to our queer ghettos. May we, like the audacious woman of the Song of Songs, enjoy the company of those who praise our partners, cheer our love making, tease us, join us in the hunt for love, encourage us, and laugh with us.

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