Every day, 19 WordPressers are featured on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. And every day, many more wonder, “What do I have to do to get Freshly Pressed?”
Well, it’s time to reveal what the folks who push the launch button are thinking. Each week, a member of our editorial team will do a close-up on one post and why we thought it was Press-worthy. We hope we can provide insight into the process and give you tips and tools to make your blog the best it can be.
Last week, we featured the post I’m Gay and Christian, a thought-provoking essay dismantling the false dichotomy of “homosexual” and “religious” by D.L., the brave and well-written teenage blogger behind a flock of crows:
Yes, I’m wading into this whole debate. Well, not wading, more like already stuck in the middle and trying to be as quiet as possible. GAY-BASHING CHRISTIANS, the papers and protesters say. GOD HATES FAGS, the Christians say. And I’m there, sitting right in the overlap: I’m Christian, and I’m gay.
Writing about controversy in a way that champions a particular point of view while acknowledging that others think differently isn’t easy – and this topic in particular is a deeply divisive one touching on two incredibly personal aspects of many people’s identities: sexual orientation and faith.
This post could easily have been a one-sided diatribe that traded in stereotypes or denigrated those with whom the blogger does not agree. Instead, it was thoughtful, balanced, and thought-provoking – a perfect candidate for Freshly Pressed. We were glad to feature it, and even happier to see readers engage with the author in a similarly respectful way. Here’s why we were drawn in:
She spoke from her own perspective.
No one can speak on behalf of an entire group of people. I’m a woman and a democrat and Boggle lover and when I talk, I talk from a particular perspective, not as the official representative of Women, Democrats, and Word Game Addicts. Even if I wanted to speak for all of them, I couldn’t; after all, I come from the specific vantage point of the nearsighted size 11 shoe-wearer and might not accurately represent the needs of a bifocal-wearing size 8.
My point: no one is the spokesperson for an entire community, and when someone tries to be, it often ends up being exclusionary and offensive. By framing her post as being about her experience as a gay Christian, D.L. created the space for others to step in and share their perspectives and views – which is critical when trying to find common ground on a contentious topic.
She acknowledged both sides of the coin.
The post presented D.L.’s views very directly, but she took the time to look at the ways Christians and gays are portrayed in the media, the stereotypical pictures they paint of one another, and the arguments each group makes when dismissing the other. Thus, the overall effect of her post wasn’t argumentative, or dismissive of alternative views. It’s tougher for a reader who thinks differently to attack her argument (or her person) when those views have already been acknowledged.
She presented a way forward.
Her conclusion gave readers a way to start moving past the conundrum:
They could, should, find a level playing field by getting to understand the mindset of gay Christians. The activists could attempt to understand the convictions of our faith, the Christians could attempt to see why we believe we are God’s gay children. If either side could, for one moment, believe what we believe, maybe we could end this war.
Tearing down the wall between “gay” and “Christian” isn’t an easy thing to do, especially in a society as polarized as the U.S. is right now. Instead of throwing up her hands, D.L. laid out some straightforward questions designed to help people find a way out of the morass.
(It’s equally instructive to look at what she didn’t do: she didn’t shy away from a difficult topic. She didn’t rely on images. Instead, she took a tough topic head-on and unpacked it with clarity.)
Bonus! Her comment moderation was spot-on.
Freshly Pressing this post was bound to get a lot of people talking – the post now has over 250 comments from people all over the spectrum. For the most part, commenters took a cue from D.L.’s measured tone and were respectful, even when they vehemently disagreed, and D.L. did a fantastic job of engaging with them while defending her position.
We’re looking forward to reading more from this blossoming young writer. What did you think of the post? Of her blog? Will this affect the way you approach hard-hitting topics on your own site?