Sharing that I’m an ally isn’t being brave. Bravery is getting out of bed every day, never knowing whether you’ll face violence just because someone thinks you’re an “abomination.”
1. I hate that I have to be a little nervous every time I post a pro-LGBTQ comment or article.
I wonder whether this will be the post that actually causes someone to make an official complaint to my church’s Staff-Parish Relations Committee or to my District Superintendent. (I’m an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church.)
2. I hate that people think I’m brave for making my posts.
Sharing that I am an ally is not being brave, it’s really just barely more than the minimum that any decent person should do. At best, it’s maybe one step above “liking” a positive or uplifting post on Facebook. Bravery is getting out of bed every day, even though you know there are some people (maybe your family, your teacher or co-worker, members of your congregation, or your ministers) who think you are an “abomination.”
Bravery is still loving and praying for those very same people who have set themselves up as your enemy. Bravery is going to school or work and never knowing whether or not your day will end with verbal, emotional, or physical violence just because someone doesn’t like how God made you.
3. I hate that it’s a big deal to the LBGTQ community here in this southern town that I am an ally.
I should just be one small voice among the hundreds of faith leaders in this area who are all standing up to proclaim that God loves every one of us.
4. I hate that my friends feel the need to leave reassuring words for me on my posts.
I love my friends and I love their support, but these kinds of posts should be as ubiquitous as the “Here’s what I had for lunch” Instagram pictures and support for posting them should not be needed.
5. I hate, because I know what the statistics are for LGBTQ homelessness, depression, and suicide. I am hyper-aware when I interact with the 50-100 youth per week who come through our church doors that the next Kenneth Weishuhn or Leelah Alcorn might be standing right in front of me.
What can I say or do to counteract the lifetime of negative messaging that they might have received from their peers or from adults in authority in their lives, like a teacher, a coach, a parent, or a preacher? (I have thanked God many times that they have never heard those negative messages from any of the pulpits where I am Minister of Music.)
6. I hate that the list of LGBTQ youth suicides is so long that Kenneth and Leelah are just a tiny fraction of the names I could have listed above.
7. I hate that, during this past Holy Week, we Christians sang “O sacred Head, now wounded” while feeling genuinely sorrowful that Christ suffered because of our sins and yet many of those same Christians wound the sacred heads and hearts of their LGBTQ siblings and children through their words, actions, and — for some of them — their legislation.
8. Finally, and least importantly, I hate that my family still thinks their jokes haven’t become ludicrous by now.
Case in point: here’s a transcription of a group text from a couple of weeks ago.
Me: Family meeting – tomorrow night, 9PM.
My Daughter: Why so late? Did you get fired? Are we moving? Is someone dying? Am I in trouble?
My Wife: Dad’s gay.
My Daughter: I already knew that. But seriously, why are we meeting?
Actually, I don’t mind their teasing. I’m glad my family is 100% supportive of my activism and of the LGTBQ community. For the record: I’m not gay.
And I hate that I felt the need to clarify that.
This article originally appeared on Reconciling Ministries Network.
Photo credit: Clare Bell/Flickr