Remember last week when I (probably somewhat rudely, I’ll admit) said, “Fuck living in the tension”? I just want to take some time to clarify that. Many thanks to the Christians expressing their “grief” over the SCOTUS decision yesterday for helping me to figure out what was bothering me that led to my statement.
First, I want to make it absolutely, perfectly, 100% clear that I was NOT talking to any of my LGBTQI friends or family or strangers on the Internet. That remark was solely intended for my fence-sitting straight Christian brothers and sisters. It’s important that I emphasize that, because dialogue about LGBTQI issues and faith can never, ever begin with me–which is actually why I abhor “living in the tension” so much. That phrase is aimed at straight people and meant to imply something like, “How the heck do I love gay people when I really think they’re outside God’s will?” It’s a really bad place to begin any kind of conversation; you can’t go into something with the idea that another person needs to convince you of the validity of their identity and how that looks to them.
What sparked my fury and my desire to try again to explain to the nice straight people what we’re all doing wrong was this post at A Deeper Story. See, my issue is absolutely not with any LGBTQI people who are learning what it means to honor their identity and be a person of faith. That’s a respectable journey, and no one–NO ONE–needs my, or anyone else’s, permission to take it.
The problem is that straight people all seem to think we’re entitled to an opinion on someone else’s identity. That conversation at A Deeper Story? All about straight angst because we have feels about homosexuality. This goes for both sides of the “debate,” by the way. You know that thing people do when you tell your story and the first thing they do is derail and start talking about themselves? Yeah, same thing.
Here’s a newsflash: It’s not about you. Whatever your personal opinion–even if you’re sure it’s “biblical”–about LGBTQI people, that’s all it is; it’s your opinion. You do not need special times and places to write about it, because there are people all over, on both sides, who share it. You do not need “safe space” to be sad about marriage equality. You are not entitled to determine someone else’s humanity or their faith.
What has long bothered me, though I didn’t quite have the words for it, was this idea of inviting people to the table to talk about how we should handle relationship with LGBTQI people. It bothers me because it’s still the people with privilege sitting in our positions of power making decisions about who is welcome and in what capacity. That’s not how it should work.
You really want to have this conversation? Then I suggest starting with actual LGBTQI people who are working out their identities and their faith stories. You want links? Come back tomorrow and check out my Friday links round-up, where I’ll connect you with a whole bunch of people. After that, try doing a Google search for things like “LGBT Christians” and “Queer Theology.” Whether you agree or not isn’t important; what’s important is that you see what Christians identifying as LGBTQI are saying about themselves.
Before I get hate mail or protests along the lines of, “But I know a gay person! And that person appreciates my honesty that I don’t approve of the lifestyle!” please take a moment to think about that. When was the last time you “appreciated” it when someone chose some vital part of your life and disapproved but said “I love you anyway”? I honestly don’t care whether you approve of my friends and family or not. Either way, it’s not terribly helpful or loving to remind them all the time what you think, and it’s not your job to have an opinion about someone who has reconciled his or her faith and identity.
I just don’t understand why there’s this need for such anxiety, unless deep down you’re worried that if you don’t help people get this whole gay thing under control, they’ll wind up in hell. Seriously? Stop with the hair-pulling already. Here’s some suggestions for Things You Can Do with Your Christian LGBTQI Friends:
- Have a nice cup of tea or coffee
- Exchange conversation about the blessings in your life
- Talk about ways you’re hurting and listen to theirs
- Make a play date for your kids
- Go see a live band
- Ask them how they see their faith/identity/sexuality, without explaining what you think of any of those things
I stand by what I said: “Fuck living in the tension.” But it applies to straight people who use it to have discussions about whether we should include them in our worship. Until we upend the conversation and start viewing it the other way around, we will never be able to come to the table together.