“I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment…So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:21-37
For those of us who believe deeply in our hearts that God created LGBTQ people and that God has a place for us in the church, the past thirty years have been cause for some deep and righteous anger. There have been the big, obvious places like church trials for ministers who have officiated same-gender weddings, removing ordination credentials for ministers who come out while serving the church. There have been countless times people who would have been incredible gifts to the church have been denied and dismissed on account of their sexuality or gender identity. And then there are the more subtle occasions for anger: working with people in power in our denomination who refuse to discuss LGBTQ people, who still aren’t convinced we are fit to serve the church, the invasive questions that get asked as we move through the ordination process. Read more
“I love Sally and her wife,” a colleague in ministry once said in a small group we were in, “but I don’t believe in homosexuality.” At first I responded with nothing. I felt all the air had been sucked out of the room. My other colleagues all looked to me hoping I would say something. But I couldn’t. There were no words.
Eventually, I responded, “How can you claim you love me and ignore a large part of my personhood?” “How is sexuality a part of your personhood?” the conversation continued. Read more
Thanks to a fine sermon I heard last Sunday, all week I’ve been commiserating with Jonah. The belly of the whale is the perfect metaphor for how I’ve been feeling—as though I’ve been called do something, to say something, but my brain is refusing to cooperate.
Here’s me as Jonah: white, heterosexual female—writer, Presbyterian elder, member of a “big-tent” church that welcomes LGBTQ people but isn’t yet comfortable addressing what full inclusion means. Read more
I won the lottery. This is why I’m throwing away the winning ticket!
I’m not sure when it was. It didn’t happen all at once. There was a gradual awakening that as a Heterosexual-Male-WASP (White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant), I had won the All-American Lottery. America, it turns out is a great place for Hetero-Male-WASPS. Read more
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-20
It can be easy to blame others for why we might have lost our taste or dimmed our light. I graduated from seminary when the Presbyterian Church still had amendment G.6-0106b in the Book of Order, blocking most openly LGBTQ people from ordination. I desperately wanted to live into my calling to ordained ministry but felt like the PC(USA) was holding me back. So I hit pause on my journey to ordained ministry, got a job at a non-profit and started going through the motions of what I thought I should do while I couldn’t be ordained: sit in the darkness and wait. Two years later, I was pretty miserable in my job and felt further from God than I had in a long time. I cried to God in my isolation but wasn’t ready to hear what I might need to do to take that bushel basket off of my head. I had gotten so enmeshed in my routine and my life that I forgot to look around me and see where I might be that critical dash of salt which brings the whole meal together. Read more
“Our daughter just wanted to go to school, be with her girlfriends, get a good education and be accepted by her peers.” Wayne Maines wrote this in a Huffington Post op-ed in 2012 after Superior Court Justice William Anderson ruled that the Orono school system did not violate the Maine Human Rights Act when it prohibited Nicole from using the restroom that matches her gender identity. “She was made an outcast, separated from her peers. She was bullied and harassed simply because she is transgender. No parents want that for their child.” Read more
An MLP Interview with Yoruba Richen, the film director of the documentary The New Black.
At the upcoming 2014 General Assembly in Detroit, MLP will host a film screening and a panel discussion of The New Black documentary. As a Black Queer Lesbian, I am excited there will be a forum to discuss intersectionality. Having seen the film at the LGBTQ film festival last fall, I felt what it conveyed was long overdue. Queer people of color deal with the racism of the white LGBTQ community. When I first came out, I immediately realized mainstream LGBTQ culture is centered around those who are white. Most LGBTQ advocacy does not consider the needs of LGBTQ people of color. For me this was/is devastating because its another added level of exclusion. The queerphobia and sexism that exists in the straight Black community, particularly in Black churches, forces Black LGBTQ people to be outsiders in their community. I for instance cannot lean on the majority of the Black people in my life for support when I encounter racism within the LGBTQ community. The idea is, “real/true” Black people, are straight. It is still a common notion among many straight Black people I know, that I was exposed to something or someone and that’s the reason why I’m a lesbian. Since the majority of Black churches are conservative, Black queers constantly experience spiritual abuse in Black churches. Predominantly white conservative churches are damaging as well due to the racism, sexism and queerphobia LGBTQ people of color experience. White conservative churches often pit Black conservative churches against the LGBTQ community (take marriage equality for example). The relationships these two otherwise segregated communities form is based solely on a queerphobia theology. Read more
“Bertram, you are now ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.”
With those simple but historic words, we at Madrona Grace Presbyterian Church welcomed a new associate pastor, and the wider church welcomed the first openly gay African American man ordained as a Teaching Elder in the PCUSA.
Bertram’s journey mirrors that of many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. A Princeton graduate, Bertram received his M.Div. at a time when being gay was enough to disqualify one for ordination. He chose to suspend the process, saying at the time “if the church didn’t want him, he didn’t want the church.” Read more
The LGBT Faith and Asylum Network (LGBT-FAN) is a national coalition dedicated to helping people who are seeking safety in the United States because of persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their home countries. Around the world, LGBTQ people face abuse, arbitrary arrest, extortion, violence, severe discrimination and lack of official protection. It is illegal to be LGBTQ in 80 countries and the death penalty is imposed in seven. Recently, India reinstated a 153-year-old law that criminalizes homosexuality, Nigeria’s president signed one of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world and Russia passed an anti-propaganda bill. According to Max Niedzwiecki, Coordinator of LGBT-FAN, at least 4,000 people seek asylum in the United States each year because of persecution in their home countries against LGBTQ people. Read more