I had the extraordinary privilege of being part of a sacred gathering of some of the LGBTQ members of my St. John’s Lutheran Church family and some of their allies.
I am proud to count myself among their allies. I have to admit, I stayed silent for much of the gathering. As we introduced ourselves and then reflected on our individual responses to the killing of 49 “family” members in Orlando, I was left humbled and speechless by the stories of people I love, some of whom I literally just met, who were kicked out of their families and their churches, had exorcisms performed on them, were made to feel “less than,” abnormal or unwanted, or underwent psychological counseling — because of who they love.
Notice I didn’t say “who they choose to love,” because I don’t believe being gay is a choice. If you disagree with me, I invite you to unfriend me right now. I’ll wait for you to go…
People I love have emotional and psychological scars from being cast aside for something that is as innate as my being left-handed. I’m proud to say my church is a safe place for them most of the time. Gay clubs were a safe place for them too, places where they could walk comfortably in their skin, hold the hands of the person they love and not worry about the judgement of the outside world. On Sunday, all of that was changed by a guy who, by some evidence, struggled with his own sexuality, found it abhorrent, was made to feel “less than” by his family and/or his religion, and took it out on 49 beautiful, amazing, contributing members of their community.
People I love no longer feel safe.
Social media isn’t making it very easy. The massacre in Orlando has become another political football. The focus is on the possibility of a terrorist connection and gun rights vs. gun control. (As an aside, my personal opinion on gun control is this: carry a handgun if you want to and feel you must. When a mentally unhinged shooter is coming at you with an AR-15, you’ll be shitting your pants and screaming like everyone else.)
We, collectively — straight, queer, white, black, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, etc. — should be offering support to the people who lost family members and were injured, and we should be letting the queer people in our communities and in our churches feel comfortable. We need to stop using our religion, no matter the flavor, as a reason to hate others.
All of us are beloved children of God. All. We are loved. And love is love.
I was mostly silent in our sacred gathering tonight because I needed to hear difficult stories from people I very much love. From this point forward, though, I’m not going to be silent. Not anymore.
I’m not going to argue any of this with anyone on social media. You have the right to say what you want. I’ve been a fan of allowing free speech since I tested the waters myself in high school. I learned then that there are consequences. And, just because you can say it doesn’t mean I have to agree. I’ll help you find your way out.
There is too much at stake for silence now. It’s time to ally up.