An abom­inable truth

GA Voice - - Outspoken -


“But the sa­cred con­struc­tions of si­lence are fu­tile ex­er­cises in de­nial. We will not go away with our is­sues of sex­u­al­ity. We are com­ing home.”

Can we talk? Good. This con­ver­sa­tion couldn’t come at a bet­ter time, given the fact that this is our re­li­gion and faith is­sue. Like many of you, I have deep ties to Chris­tian­ity. Through­out my life, my faith has been a source of both com­fort and spir­i­tual an­guish that has car­ried me over in­sur­mount­able odds while si­mul­ta­ne­ously threat­en­ing to ex­tin­guish my light. It is in the church where I first re­ceived the con­flict­ing mes­sage that Je­sus’ in­evitable con­dem­na­tion of my soul as some­one who em­braces his God-given sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion was in­deed an act of a lov­ing and mer­ci­ful God.

I strug­gled for years with the idea that my in­nate de­sire to love an­other man and share in com­mu­nity with other LGBT peo­ple would sep­a­rate me from God. I some­how man­aged to es­cape the re­lent­less shame ex­pe­ri­enced by so many LGBT peo­ple of faith as a re­sult of the spir­i­tu­ally vi­o­lent ser­mons and ho­mo­pho­bic in­ter­pre­ta­tions of scrip­ture that have be­come all too fa­mil­iar in houses of wor­ship. It’s a mir­a­cle that I haven’t com­pletely re­jected the church and its teach­ings, which hap­pen to be at the cen­ter of my ex­pe­ri­ence as a black gay/ same-gen­der lov­ing man in Amer­ica. Un­for­tu­nately, ev­ery­one isn’t so lucky. I was re­minded of that fact re­cently when shame, trauma and (in­ter­nal­ized) ho­mo­pho­bia showed up in my email inbox. For the record: my sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, like my race, is part of my iden­tity. The quick­est way to dis­honor me is to tell only the part of my story that a ho­mo­pho­bic cul­ture deems ac­cept­able. For many Chris­tians, whose de­vo­tion to Hell stands in tan­dem with their be­lief in Heaven, the closet has be­come a sanc­tu­ary in life for many LGBT folks and an in­struc­tion man­ual for those we leave be­hind on how our lives are to be memo­ri­al­ized in death.

I must have missed the memo that said it was our duty as gay peo­ple to take on the neg­a­tive con­na­tions his­tor­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with the word “gay” or to el­e­vate other per­ceived pos­i­tive at­tributes to win in the game of re­spectabil­ity pol­i­tics. I must have missed the memo that said by hid­ing and cow­er­ing in fear, we would en­dear our­selves to those who are in­tent on hat­ing and ques­tion­ing the au­then­tic­ity of our truth. And I def­i­nitely missed the memo that said by nam­ing th­ese things, as they are, that our lives be­come less valu­able or less sym­pa­thetic or our le­ga­cies di­min­ished in the face of un­think­able tragedy.

Let me be clear: the play­ing field is not even, and I loathe the fact that as LGBT peo­ple we are con­stantly liv­ing in a state of com­ing out; con­stantly hav­ing to de­fend our hu­man­ity to those who hate us, to those who pro­fess to love us, and even to our­selves. It’s a cul­tural is­sue that I be­lieve many of us have yet to even be­gin to un­pack. Do­ing so would re­quire us to view our sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and any pub­lic iden­ti­fier as sim­ply the truth, an as­pect of our iden­tity to be cel­e­brated and not hid­den. But that would also re­quire us to re­lin­quish the strong­hold that toxic the­ol­ogy has over our lives, which doesn’t hap­pen overnight. It is with­out a doubt a process.

We must be­gin to do the work. I rec­og­nize that there is much un­treated trauma in our com­mu­nity, specif­i­cally among LGBT peo­ple of color, and it pains me.

We cloak our­selves in re­li­gion and church tra­di­tions, but when the ser­vice is over and the eu­phoric high of wor­ship has ended, we’re still left to grap­ple with the truth about who we are. To quote Au­dre Lorde: “Your si­lence will not pro­tect you.” Those who would with­hold love and re­spect and in­sist on us liv­ing in a closet of se­crecy and shame do not de­serve to ex­pe­ri­ence the beau­ti­fully com­plex per­son God has de­signed. Their love may be con­di­tional, but all bets must be off when it comes to lov­ing and ac­cept­ing the full­ness of you.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.