Sitting here in my favorite coffeeshop, just pondering the cultural changes that have taken place in my lifetime. But today in particular, I think about the struggle for identity among LGBT people, both in society and internally. Earlier I went to the Quad to listen to some students present some of their coming out stories, some simple, some traumatic.
I think of different reasons why people are marginalized: ignorance, fear, arrogance, insecurity, learned behavior, intolerance for that which is different, and at the very foundation is the sin pride.
But why among Christ followers is this an issue? Are we so self-involved that we care more about our personal rights and freedoms, comfort, and preferences than embracing individual people?
While I don’t want to patronize my LGBT friends, they are victims on so many levels. Regardless of our personal convictions, don’t we still have a higher call to action than picketing and lobbying? Are we aware of their often hidden pain? Those who even sit in our Sunday services, desperate to keep their secret?
Victims of rejection by loved ones
Why aren’t you dating anyone? Why do you always hide in your room alone? Are you on drugs? Don’t walk that way. Dress more ladylike. I told you to give a firm handshake. Mom and Dad, I have something to tell you but I’m scared. Please don’t hate me. You’re what? Are you sure? You’re too young to know. You’re confused. We didn’t raise you this way. How could you do this to us? No you can’t bring your “friend” home. Never in this house. You need help. We’ve made an appointment with a psychiatrist. You ARE going to change. I will not have a gay son! You’re no longer my daughter! Get out!
Victims of culture
Stereotyping. Discrimination. Stares. Smirks. People shaking their heads. Harassment. You can’t use our bathroom. G.A.Y. stands for Got AIDS Yet? You can’t work here. I’m sorry, we just rented our last apartment before you got here. I have no problem with you being gay, but can you not bring it up? I’m sorry, I just can’t trust you around my children. I saw you spit in the salad bar. You’re trying to give us your queer disease?? We don’t want you here!
Victims of bullying
Fag. Homo. Deviant. Queer. Taunting. Threats. Getting tripped. Slammed into a school locker. Black eyes. Fights. Teachers ignore. Principals look the other way. Dreading school. Can’t do this anymore. Why has God cursed me? I want to die. Let’s just end it.
Victims of religious intolerance
We love everybody, but… You’re welcome here if… God can deliver you. You need to try harder. We have a special program that can help you change. Hey, being gay is no worse than murder, adultery, drug addiction, and child molesting. Pray more. Read your Bible more. Fast more. If you want to go to the altar I’ll go with you. Don’t you understand that’s why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? It’s an abomination. If you don’t stop you’re going to hell. God created Adam and Eve, not… Love the sinner… God please take it away. I want to live for you. Why won’t You answer me? Either You hate me, You don’t exist, or You created me this way.
Victims of self-loathing
Why do I feel out place? I know I’m different. Is there anyone who understands. I don’t dare tell my parents. What did I do to deserve this? Why can’t I belong? A choice? Why would I choose a life of loneliness, rejection, being ostracized, being unwanted? What does it matter who I love? Why can’t I have the same rights you do? You’re the one who’s weak…believing in a god who doesn’t exist! Look at all the suffering caused by your religion! I will never set foot in a church again. Your god hates me? I hate him!
Maybe it’s time for some waking up, big time dying to self, and swallowing our pride. Let’s summon up some courage, patience, compassion, mercy, grace…all the things we TALK about. Simple humanity, extend respect. Empathize. Love.
Just for thought…
- Do we categorize and hold LGBT people to a different standard?
- Can’t we disagree and be civil?
- Can’t we shut up long enough to listen?
- Can’t we respond as Christ would?
- Can’t we treat others the way we want to be treated?
- If we want to preach truth, can we start with Christ’s love?
- If we really believe in the work of the Holy Spirit, can’t we get out of His way and stop being a distraction?
I’m coming out today. I love God. I love people. And I also love gay people.