In a religious culture that taught me I was a worm, a wretch, a sinner undeserving of God's love, compassion, and forgiveness, I had no problem believing that, when God looked at me, all God saw was my filth, my brokenness, and my utter irreparability. I was shit, and despite my best efforts, that was never going to change.
I am so incredibly disappointed and hurt right now. I am frustrated. I am infuriated. I am saddened. How have we gotten to a place where the Gospel, where the supposed "Word of God" can yet again be used as a weapon against a group of people that have been hurt over and over again? How can so many of "God's people" think it is okay to show such blatant hostility against "the least of these" simply because they've been told that Matthew 18 says it's okay to do so.
One professor, one I trust as a friend and mentor, noticed this and decided that I needed something different. I needed space: space in which to experience respite from fighting against something. He felt that, in all my efforts of fighting against, I'd been afforded little time to discover what it was I've been fighting for, or more importantly, what I've been standing on.
Talking with a friend (and professor) the other day about grief, I realized that part of my own unfinished grief has to do with the remaining desire to be straight. To fall in love with a woman. To not cringe (or feel nauseated) at the idea of being intimate with her. I wonder what it would have been like had things turned out differently, but some questions never get answers. Some fantasies never become reality. Some hopes never stand a chance.
If I want tolerance, I know plenty of places where I could have such an experience. Sadly, more than any other place that comes to mind, there is the Church. Granted, I'm not talking about congregations belonging to those denominations that are typically thought of as being more "progressive." I'm talking about faith communities where the emphasis is overly placed on personal holiness and where the necessity for justice is almost completely overlooked.
There are days where I just want to force myself to let go of the label of Christian, and there are days where I can't help but hold onto it white-knuckled. It is a label, an identifier, that means the world to me, yet it comes with so much baggage some days. I love Jesus. I love talking about him. I love asking questions about the meaning of his teachings, about the significance of his life both for those in his immediate presence and for us today. I love the idea of a community gathering together around the table, learning to love each other amidst the messiness of life, learning to show grace, to forgive. A community whose mission and identity is wrapped up in the idea that God loves all of creation and invites creation to reciprocate that love. A community that recognizes the brokenness that exists in the world, and who wants to be a part of the ways in which God is working to redeem that brokenness, heal the wounds of the world.
I grew up being told that no same-sex relationship is stable or healthy. None of them every really last. Even if they do, they're a poor substitute for God's original plan of heterosexual relationships. And yet here I am almost four years later. Sure, we have our rough moments, but they're the same rough moments that I've seen straight couples face.
...Conference is about being real, authentic, and vulnerable
It's about meeting people with whom one has much in common, finding solace in community, and being in a safe space where one can truly be oneself. This year I was able to do that more than I think I ever have been able to in previous, mostly because of my amazing roommates Ben, Bryan, and Kevin, as well as several other friends both old and new.