by Nick Miller Kauffman
I'm (still) watching Annual Conference business via webcast, where they just concluded business dealing with a query on decorum, questioning the appropriateness of rainbow and black & white scarves (the former expressing support for LGBT people, the latter supporting a literalist biblical interpretation). The query was returned, but as I watched the discussion, there were a lot of comments that mentioned both scarves in the same breath. I think it's important to distinguish between them.
I do not wear a rainbow scarf at Annual Conference (excepting one evening last year). I actually agree with the sister who compared them (and the black & white scarves) to "gang colors." I appreciate their intent and am a big fan of shows of solidarity, but I suspect their effect is more isolating than inclusive. I surely don't think they should be banned, I just don't take part in that particular demonstration.
But we shouldn't compare rainbow scarves to black & white scarves. The former are intended as a show of support for an oppressed and silenced group; they are a stand against a majority. The latter are a direct response to the former, which means they are worn in opposition to the display of solidarity with an oppressed minority. Those with a literalist biblical interpretation may themselves be a minority, but they are certainly not silenced.
In the same way, a White Student Union would be different from a Black Student Union. Flying a "straight pride" flag would be different from flying a "gay pride" flag. I am not the biggest fan in the world of rainbow scarves in our particular context, but the black & white scarves seem downright malicious. Rainbow scarves are a disenfranchised group standing up and demanding they be counted. Black & white scarves are a powerful group reminding others of their power.