Affirming pastors can have an immeasurably positive impact in the lives of their LGBTQIA congregants.
In the days of my youth, I knew little of the meanings of terms such as the "religious right" and the "liberal left." I was taught to believe in a loving God, and I have begun to understand that this is the greatest fortune of my birth.
As a young seminarian in the late 1970’s, I enjoyed being a graduate student on the campus of a major university in the Midwest. The big library and vast intellectual community were a thrill, but the greatest joy was attending Sunday services at the university’s chapel, an elaborate modernist/Gothic building on the edge of campus.
I grew up in the UK during the era of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister. Thatcher’s ideal England was as traditional as the Adventist churches I attended every Saturday, and their shared social philosophy was our water and air.
It’s hard on the heart to realize you’re invisible.
Standing amongst the rows of trees I stared across at my partner. She was smiling, grabbing apples from the trees with an excited exclamation as if each one was a new find, a sparkly treasure, with that same childlike wonder that made me first fall in love with her.
My first kiss was with my next-door neighbor—a young boy in my class. It was back when I didn’t know what it meant to be queer, what it meant to be bisexual, what it meant to be trans. We were together under a flagpole at recess, he told me that the previous night was “Hershey’s Kiss” night at his church.
Shortly after coming out to my church, I began to notice just how many LGBTQ people our congregation had. While my time prior to deciding to come out had been full of nerves and worry, my time after was filled with new friends and role models.
I started working at Believe Out Loud almost five years ago. Before that time, I had no idea that there were places to turn to talk about the intersection of being LGBTQ and Christian, other than to talk about it from the harmful narrative that had been forced upon most of us for far too long.
As a Black transman, I get a lot of messages about who I am supposed to be, what I am supposed to look like and what my life should manifest as.