There is a frightening presence in our society, one that is far more destructive and hateful than what most people realize. That presence is the massive number of evangelical churches teaching that homosexuality is an immoral choice, a sin, a perversion, a deviance, a lifestyle, a purveyor of AIDS, and a demonic practice. Spreading these lies from the pulpit are people like California’s Reverend John MacArthur, who speaks with pure hate and backs himself up with false and discredited statistics. I will address all of those in a later post, but for now I wish to address some of the wonderful people who are fighting against this terrible agenda of a perceived scriptural condemnation of their very personhood.
Last weekend I spoke at a conference for LGBTQ teachers, high school students, and allies. The people I met at that conference truly inspired me. My talk was called “Lifting the Veil: Christianity, Homophobia, and Western Cultural Perspective,” and it was very well received.
Current numbers suggest that homophobic Christians are still in the majority in North America, and on the rise in Africa. This is not a good thing, but I have been able to sleep much better after meeting some of the next generation who are going to be fighting for acceptance both beside me and long after I’m gone. At the conference I met LGBTQ and allied youth who have been belittled, bullied, and harassed. I met a person who was thrown out of her church after coming out, and another who couldn’t understand why her church would hate her LGBTQ friends. No matter what their story, all of these young people had one thing in common: A refusal to give up. These were impassioned youth unwilling to lie down and disappear, unwilling to conform because certain religious communities say so. The educators who came were equally inspiring. When I was a child, I never knew any adults who did not condemn homosexuality as all of the horrible things mentioned above. To see educators fighting for equality and acceptance within the school system is something that makes me tear up with happiness. (I will also add that I am beyond encouraged by the number of Christians I have met who do not adhere to traditional teaching, but rather practice love and faith-based acceptance of LGBTQ people)
Throughout my research and observation I have cried, screamed, shouted, laughed, danced, and raged. Of these, I have cried the most. I have cried over the murders of people who were transgender, the murders and suicides of those who were gay, the excommunication of LGBTQ people from churches, the condemnation from my own family for doing this work … and now I have cried with joy because of the wonderful youth, parents, and educators who are passionately holding their heads high and speaking up. To those people reading this who were at the conference, and to all others reading this who may be LGBTQ or allies, I salute you. Thank you for your passion, thank you for your resilience, thank you for your conviction, and thank you for your love. We fight together, and for that I thank you.