Recently, Amber Hikes, director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, approved a motion adding two more stripes, black and brown, to the current 6-tone rainbow flag, as a part of the city's More Color More Pride initiative, an initiative that "strives to create an even more inclusive community", while also seeking to "celebrate the stories of those who have been typically left out of the LGBTQ experience, including people of color and people of the transgender/gender nonconforming experience".
My Jesus doesn't hang out with the cool kids, with the best dressed. He hangs out in the slums, on the corners with the tranny prostitutes and the meth addicts. He spends time in the psych wards and the VA hospitals. He loves all people, and it's not an easy love. It's a love that takes something out of him, that leaves him feeling drained and depleted at times. He spends time with those who don't know how to receive love much less love themselves. The whores. The junkies. The thieves. The criminals. The poor.
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.
I don't know who came up with the idea that questioning God, God's motives, or God's actions (or inactions) is wrong, but I'd like to meet him (just roll with me on the gender assumption). If I had that chance, I'd point out David, Thomas, Job, even Paul. There are probably more biblical characters who dared question God. I'd ask why he thought it was wrong to hold God accountable for the ways in which God does and does not act in the world.
Where's the phone call for the young boy who constantly tormented by their male counterparts? Where's the tweet from the First Lady showing support for the girl who's the epitome of a tomboy by excelling at volleyball, basketball, soccer, or even boxing or martial arts? Where's the face-to-face conversation with the trans youth who is attacked on their first day at school of wearing an outfit that truly expresses who they are?
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.
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.
Maybe you heard it first at age nine from the front row pew. Your pastor said it in ten seconds, and it felt like hell and shame hurling down on you. Maybe you heard it in the car with James Dobson declaring to the nation, to your family, that perverts like you don’t get to have God. Maybe you heard it everywhere.
Maybe you opened the Book and saw six or so verses with their crushing words and you felt your soul crack wide open. Maybe you read them with a lump in your throat and tears down your face and trembling hands. Maybe a part of you died.
When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved — Mark 13:11-13
As for me, I owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of my friends who let me be a part of their children's lives. I owe them thanks for being a part of my healing, for letting, for encouraging their children to love me. I owe them as much love as I can for being a part of making me feel like a whole person again.