The chewy thoughts of a queer Christian

The Wanting Lens

Urban dictionary defines gaydar thus:

The ability/gift of being able to detect homosexuality in other people.

When I was coming out to myself, I would notice gay people in the street or on the train sometimes. I was scared of becoming like them: effeminate, fashionable, and… there was something else. An odd something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that I knew I didn’t want to embody and somehow associated with gayness. I now, however, have a name for it. It is The Wanting Lens. The funny thing is, I assumed that everyone with The Wanting Lens was gay, and did not even consider the multitude of gay men (closeted or otherwise) that passed under the radar completely.

Karen Armstrong makes the point in Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life that when approach one another with the idea that we know something about them, we limit that person. They become but a shadow of their True Self.

This is beautifully expressed in another passage from Hamlet. The prince is causing a great deal of trouble  in the Danish court and the king has employed two of his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on him. It does not take Hamlet long to realise what is going on and one evening he presents Guildenstern with a pipe and tells him to play it. ‘My lord, I cannot!’ Guildenstern replies. ‘It is as easy as lying,’ Hamlet remarks caustically, and goes on to insist that it is a simple matter of blowing through the mouthpiece and putting your fingers over the stops. ‘But I have not the skill,’ Guildenstern protests. ‘Why look you now,’ says Hamlet bitterly:

“How unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass…. Do you think I am easier to be played on than this pipe?”

There are moments when a man walks by that makes you smile and makes your day a little brighter for having seen him.  This induces the head-turn, and it also changes the way you look at people.  ‘I liked looking at him, and I want more of it.’ The Wanting Lens has been put in. Suddenly, you ‘pluck out the mystery’ of the people in your vicinity and assess them according to whether or not they fill your desire, and your criteria for beauty. How unworthy a thing we make of them! As soon as we have to mentally process the question, “Am I attracted to this person?” we put in the Wanting Lens.

If we are to kneel before the king and say, ‘I’m clean’, it is something we must do, we must learn to be  sensitive to the Wanting Lens and train ourselves to let it go. If we are to appreciate the Divine Mystery of life, and to love others as we wish to be loved, we must appreciate both heart and soul in those around us. It starts with how we perceive our world.


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