Archive for the ‘gay’ Tag
Unfortunately, this class did not gather any students. But I wanted to teach a workshop anyway, and the Michigan LGBT community is facing a huge battle right now. So we’ve designed a FREE class instead, on April 6 Scenes from Stalled Marriages. Please join us to write about YOUR family under the marriage ban, or your FRIENDS’ families or individuals. We’ll see you APRIL 6 at Fountain Street Church.
Please join us in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the weekend before the Festival of Faith and Writing (at Calvin College), for Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey Workshop, APRIL 5, SATURDAY, 9am–5pm.
For the LGBT person of faith, the journey has not been easy. Many of us are refugees from mainline denominations that offer faith but only to some, or only with clauses attached. Some of us have escaped into better, more accepting faiths or denominations–but that journey may not have been easy. Charting our spiritual journey, though, can help bring focus and fulfillment to our lives as part of the LGBT community. Writing our spiritual journeys also completes the missing parts of society’s spiritual journey. In this Workshop we will read LGBT writers of faith, as well as writers of faith in general, to pick up tips and techniques that will help you write about your journey. If you like discussing spirituality in the context of the LGBT community, with others like yourself, and exploring through writing what your journey has discovered, come join us. Using writing exercises, games, techniques of professional writers, and your own lives, you will create writing that struggles, overcomes, even heals, as it maps the spiritual journey of your life. All faiths are welcome. All struggles are welcome. Even if your spirituality doesn’t fall neatly in a box, join us. Boxes aren’t the best places for spirituality anyway.
This class needs a minimum of five people to run. Some reading will be sent to you via email before the workshop begins. Cost is $80 per person. Sign up early so we can be sure that the workshop runs, and that you receive readings for the workshop. Bring a journal, a pen, and the heart of an explorer.
To sign up, follow this link. For more information, please contact Fountain Street Church.
Saturday, April 5, 9am-5pm
Fountain Street Church
This website has a lot of my story on it–but this is the less than ten minute version of my story with the church. The Queer Story Archives came up to Whitehorse–Lulu from OnMyPlanet.ca–in July 2013, recording stories of Yukon Queers, and we recorded this right before I was to leave for Dayton, Ohio. I think it’s turning into a positive story so I’m sharing it. Ultimately I’m suggesting that including gay people can save a rapidly diminishing Church population. To do that, I tell my story. Some of you have heard it–either through the Yukon News, or through DNTO. Both sources were good but heavily edited. It feels better in my own words, complete.
We grow from hard times in our lives and this was a good growth for me. Eventually, I’ve come to retain and re-establish many friendships from the first church. I hope my story still helps others. Thanks to LULU and onmyplanet.ca
Over on Huffington Post, Gay Voices, is a tragic story of Christian parents who tried very hard to love their gay son. They prayed, though, that they would not have a gay son….and that prayer came true, in the worst possible way.
I’ve reprinted here only the beginning of this piece—but it is powerful–and the link will take you over to Huff Post for the full column.
For me, this is the tragedy of good Christian parents who aren’t ready to allow their kids to make up their minds about their sexuality. They learn that accepting your sexuality is accepting yourself–and when you aren’t allowed to accept your sexuality, you aren’t allowed to accept who you are—and that can have awful ramifications. They do understand though—but too late to help their own son.
Read one family’s story:
FOR THE WHOLE ESSAY, Just Because He Breathes, CLICK HERE.
From Linda Robertson:
On the night of Nov. 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our 12-year-old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.
Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx
We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people; my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails and all boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all our reactions over the next six years was fear.
We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:
We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.
We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.
We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you are gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay; it is that you are a child of God.
We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option.
We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we — and God — were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to an abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies and got baptized. He read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the whys of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and me and built strong friendships with other guys — straight guys — just like the reparative therapy experts advised. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing, by memory, verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Him.
For the rest of the essay, please follow this link.
The Supreme Court of the United States issued two huge rulings on gay rights Wednesday morning, June 26. They overturned a key component of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), Section #3 which tried to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. This spells the end of DOMA; which will probably be repealed quickly since it’s been declared, in essence, unconstitutional, as it stands now. Also, in a separate case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the fight over Proposition 8, the law passed in California banning gay marriage (which Judge Walker of the Ninth Circuit Court declared unconstitutional, but which Prop 8 proponents brought to the Supreme Court on appeal), those wishing to appeal Walker’s decision did not have standing. So Walker’s decision stands and marriages can happen again in California. Yay! All seems right in the world.
And then Sunday comes.
Sunday, the Court of Religion meets. And those Judges (for they aren’t Justices) have the power to perpetuate the source of hate and discrimination against the LGBT community–or they have the power to cut off that source of hate and discrimination. It’s a make or break Sunday.
No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the public has to enact those changes. The Court cannot legislate morality—and in some cases, those who are opposed to gay rights have found new fervor to rail against gay people. Now we can marry! In 13 states. Now the Court said that gay couples can receive benefits! On our tax forms. But if we’ve made some progress through the Supreme Court–a hard fought case–we could regress in the Court of Religion—a court that has more power over Americans than any Judicial body created by the Constitution.
Without question, most congregants will listen to their pastors. Without question they will believe what those pastors tell them. If those pastors tell them that America is sliding downhill into the Apocalypse because loving gay couples can marry–then they will believe that. And they will go out and hate gay people for moving them one step closer to oblivion. (Actually, they should be thrilled–one step closer to the Apocalypse is one step closer to Heaven for them! I know my Revelation!) Still, this Sunday has the potential to stir the hearts of good Christians even deeper against the LGBT community–or stir them deeper to love LGBT people.
Christians do not realize how potent a sermon can be—but Pastors do. One sermon can re-enforce ages of bad dogma–or change it; it can change a weak mind, for or against; it can reassure a doubting congregant. If you don’t know what you think about the Supreme Court helping to end discrimination against gay people (we’re a long ways from that end), you might by the end of Sunday’s sermon.
Churches have a moment to RETHINK
Imagine if Pastors took this moment to re-enforce the humanity of LGBT people, their interest in pairing up in Marriage, their love for each other–and to see the movement across the US to help LGBT people find equality under the law, and in churches everywhere. That sermon could propel folks to think about Jesus’ work with the oppressed—and that they too, as Christians, can help the oppressed. It could do more to help the healing: THIS Sunday.
THIS Sunday, Churches have a chance to do the most good for their congregations. Because inside every congregation are a few gay people trying to hide, fearful of coming out. Inside every congregation is a parent of a gay son or lesbian daughter or folks whose lives are touched by LGBT people every day. They are not isolated from gay people. And promoting healing through the news that LGBT people deserve better treatment under the law might promote the same kind of healing in the church between members who have been hurt. Certainly it will make things more welcoming to those people who have LGBT family members, or friends. Our churches must be welcoming above everything. This is the second commandment–to love your neighbor as yourself. And if churches aren’t welcoming–people won’t stay and hear the Good News.
Read Jim Wallis from the Huffington Post on how churches can help find “Equal Justice Under the Law”
This Sunday more healing, or more damage, can be made in Churches across North America.
It is not the Justices who change the Churches, but the Churches who can change the Justice.
Yes, thankfully. Amen.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” says Paul in Romans 8.
We always get stuck on Romans 1, as if that’s the point of Romans–to condemn people. The point of Romans is to remind those Christians in Romans the great sacrifice Christ made for all of us sinners, and show us the security we have as a believer. If you are a Christian, there is no condemnation in Christ. You are not condemned because you are gay, or because you have gay feelings, same-sex feelings or desires. Just like God won’t condemn you if you have straight feelings or desires. It would be silly for God to block certain people from his kingdom, as he issued a blanket invitation to the whole world.
I know I am not condemned because I am gay and still Christian, and I know that because thousands of other gays are Christian too. They are all over the world. We are just as led by the spirit as straight Christians, just as “saved” and “sanctified” and “forgiven” and “covered in the blood of Jesus.” Amen. The same transformation happened with me as it did with you: that our minds and desires were transformed from the things of this world, to the things above, and how we can become more like the people God wants us to become. Straight people don’t lose their sexual desire when they become Christian; neither do gay people. I was a Christian before I knew I was gay. And I’m certainly a Christian after I figured out I was gay.
Gay people are just like Straight people in that they can have Faith. Read this Barna research study about gay spiritual life. Apparently a lot of gays have strong beliefs, some of these gays are strong Christians. You can discuss more with them at several of their portal sites on the web like Gay Christian Network and Rainbow Christians.
You have to ask yourself how you measure Christianity in yourself. Is it [ the amount of times you read the Bible X how often you pray X how often you go to church X how much of the Bible you got memorized ] ? No, it’s not a math formula or a checklist. It’s about a personal relationship with God, a supernatural being who created humankind. It’s also about trying to live a moral life which involves more than sexual mores–it involves kindness, compassion, longsuffering, generosity, hospitality, and a whole lot more. Christians spend a lot of time on the sexual parts–but really, how we treat other people is more important. So, if you’re concerned about your Christianity only because you’re thinking you might be gay, stop worrying. You’re fine.
Christians measure our Christianity personally, on the inside. It’s not a series of things you do or don’t do. And if you’re worried about your relationship with God, that’s a good sign that you have one. People who aren’t Christian probably don’t care if God likes what they are doing or not.
So, what you need to do now is check out the Helpful Resources page. You probably want to read some scriptures and find out how gay christians interpret the Bible. We don’t do any hocus pocus on scripture to make it say “gay people are great.” It just never said what we’ve been taught that it said. And that page has resources that can show you what the Bible doesn’t say.
There are posts on my website here on famous gay Christians–people of faith who were gay, like Henri Nouwen, Ray Boltz, Jennifer Knapp, Sarah Em, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and even King James (for whom we credit the impetus for putting the most famous version of the Bible together). This is a small list because gay christians couldn’t be very famous before now—they kind of get excommunicated, or thrown out of their churches. You’ll find, however, that gay Christians are becoming more and more known, and we’re finding that historically those who have been hidden are being brought out.
If you are christian, and feeling same sex feelings, or know you are gay, it’s okay. You can be both, gay and Christian. God expects you to be both, and has a plan for your life just as he always has. You can’t derail God’s plans for you, no matter who you are attracted to. Chances are, that plan included the fact that you were gay.
PS. A special message to Jason Collins, NBA basketball player who came out today– “Don’t let anyone take God away from you. Anyone who says you can’t be Christian and gay has a) never been Christian and gay, and b) hasn’t heard of Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, or all the other denominations that have realized that you can be gay and Christian–all their theologians are a lot smarter than an ESPN correspondent or a few conservatives who listen to too much evangelical TV. These voices who think they know God’s mind without study are like people who argue with their doctor because they read something on WebMD. Keep being the wonderful man God created you to be. Ignore them. They aren’t the voice of God.”
This blog post is specifically related to events at Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada in February of 2013. Since that time, the Pope and the Catholic Church have slightly changed their policies on the treatment of LGBT people. I also now work at a Catholic University which is not only tolerant of LGBT, but has a group on campus promoting and celebrating LGBT Pride. Social Justice themes pervade the campus and provide the kind of haven that some LGBT were looking for in a Christian setting. However, this essay, written in the heat of the controversy in Whitehorse still stands as a culmination of what I learned about asking for what you need in your high school.
Vanier Catholic Secondary School put on their school website in 2013 incendiary comments about LGBT. “The 25-page policy, freely available on the Vanier website, supports the Catholic Church’s official position on homosexuality numerous times, calling it “intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law.” Even unexpressed same-sex urges are considered a disorder and are described as a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”’ (Yukon News, Feb 27, 2013)
Students, waking up to their school’s blatant accusations about LGBT students, had every right to be afraid.
Canada had JUST passed a law requiring all schools to allow gay-straight alliances, and Vanier’s response was to buck the law on the grounds of Catholic teaching and write it on their school website to justify not complying with the law. This put students at risk. By calling LGBT students “intrinsic moral evil”–their own students at Vanier—they were promoting hatred towards their students from other students. I felt as a gay Christian (who happened to live next door to the school) that I had a moral obligation to suggest ways that students could still ask, strongly, for their GSA. I used the techniques lived out in Martin Luther King’s life and the non-violent resistance techniques he taught others. Vanier was breaking the law on religious grounds; and they were also condemning their own students on their website. Herein lies the context for my blogpost. This does not represent my views about Catholicism today as lived out at University of Dayton, but was certainly relevant for the place and time and Pope we had at that time. Pope Francis would not make his appearance until March (a few weeks later) and would not promote more tolerance towards LGBT people until many months later. Understand that the Pope and church doctrine still do not accept same-sex marriage, but ask that LGBT people be treated with dignity.
Below is the original post.
The current mess at Vanier Catholic Secondary School is all of their own making. If students just stay quiet, I’m sure this will all pass and things will go back to normal. There will be a ruling that Vanier designates their document on the school’s website as a religious document. Yukon School policy will be laid beside it to tell gay students that they are great and that Yukon schools are not discriminating. That will “satisfy” the distance Yukon Education wants to have between Catholic dogma and school policy. Unfortunately, the heart of Yukon Education will remain hollow if the Catholic school does not create a gay-straight alliance as they are now required by law to do.
Why is this important?
If the Separation of Documents is the final goal, it leaves gay students (and straight students) vulnerable and in danger.
Anti-gay doctrine remains a part of Catholic teaching. As a Christian myself, I know this doctrine is not representative of Christianity as it is practiced in many major denominations. Lutherans and Presbyterians and Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada all have come to a better translation of the Bible that preserves God’s moral teachings but accepts all people regardless of their sexuality. These denominations are just as faithful to God, have just as much moral integrity, and care just as much about their kids as conservative Catholics do. And I would argue, in this case, that they do that MORE than their conservative Catholic counterparts.
Loving your kid means protecting them from danger. Loving your kid means teaching them how to treat other people. Loving them means passing on your cultural and spiritual beliefs because they are important and lead to a better society.
This is why having a Gay-Straight Alliance inside a Catholic high school is so important. In a place where students cannot escape a religious teaching that demeans them there must be a haven, a safe place. Students are required by law to go to some school. We can’t stop home-schooling parents who have an anti-gay dogma attached to every lesson, but we can help students that are in public and private schools. Vanier is not entirely private since it receives public funding. Therefore the onus is on the government to protect the students.
They did that. With the recent government ruling requiring all schools to have a GSA if students request it, the federal government handed the students a huge shield of protection. Students have to ask for it. Vanier students did and they were not granted that shield. That’s a legal matter. However, if students only try once and are refused, they might not get the government stepping in. Unless they get lawyers involved nothing may happen. Students, you’re going to have to get Vanier to step in.
But wait, let me explain a bit more why this safe haven is important. Religion is not bad. Catholic teaching is not bad. God is not bad. We have some pretty good moral teachings inside the Catholic church and Vanier tries to look at the world through a Christian lens. It doesn’t always see it correctly. But it tries. I think a public school devoid of any spirituality, or the lack of recognition of the role spirituality and faith play in everyone’s daily life, does a disservice to kids too. I think a religious life is a thoughtful one. And one that teaches you how to live in a community.
So I don’t think gay kids should run from a Catholic school. I do think they have no idea how much power to change their school they have. Students on the inside are far more powerful than those of us on the outside. The school will not change without pressure from within as well as from without.
Gay kids need a safe space away from bad doctrine. If a gay kid is fed that he is “morally evil” as that document written by the bishop on the website said, they will do one of two things: internalize the hatred of themselves or never have a spiritual life or be interested in faith again.
Churches listen up. You’re in a pickle. You are going to run out of new members soon and will die off. Unless you embrace gays. They are your key to salvation. Ironic, isn’t it? For your faith to continue you must accept gays as they are. They will help you spread ye faith. If not, the way you treat them will pull folks to their side and everyone will leave you. They will brand you Westboro and do everything they can against you.
Students, here’s your power: read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”– there’s a link on my website here. I know it’s long but it details a form of nonviolent resistance that you can do inside the walls of your school.
My suggestions for you to get the changes you need to survive–and this just a GSA–are as follows:
1. Form your GSA. Do it at recess or in the halls or at lunch or in the locker room. Do it and don’t listen when adults try to stop you. Form your club.
2. Meet your club inside the school after school hours.
3. They will try to end it. What power do they have when you have the government of Canada behind you? Meet anyway. Be clever. Meet in multiple places. Resist them and be strong in your GSA.
4. Make positive gay posters and put them up. Let all students know that your GSA remains strong. And that gay students are loved and supported by God.
5. Be strong. These posters will be taken down. You will be threatened by the administration. They will try to find the ring leaders. Don’t tell them who’s in your GSA. Maybe everyone. They will suspend some of you. Go to your blogs and write about WHY you were suspended. You were suspended for asking for a GSA. This action is illegal under Canada Law. The school is aiming for trouble.
6. After some of you are suspended, the rest get to do a sit-in. Sit in the main lobby or the admin office. Just sit on the floor in the chairs and ask politely for a GSA. Make your presence known. You have to organise this sit in. You need thirty or forty students and they have to skip class to do it. They have to stay on the office for hours. It’s okay. Make signs, positive gay ones, and ones that ask for your GSA guaranteed under law. This will push them.
7. They will probably suspend a lot of you. Or they will call the cops. But I doubt the cops part. You are not breaking the law and they are. All of you should tweet about it while you are doing it. Create a Facebook page during the sit in. Let EVERYONE IN WHITEHORSE know you are doing it.
8. Vanier does not want continued bad publicity. But your pressure will force them into a decision. Either they will let you form a GSA or every parent in town will put more pressure on them. You will win. You will get your GSA.
9. Beware the half-measure. They might a) promise to consider it if you leave. They just want you gone. Sit still until the school allows the GSA. B) they’ll offer you a false version of GSA– One Heart, or some such crap which is still their dogma covered in a candy coating. Say no. You will call it a GSA and it will have positive messages about being gay. The only way you give in is when they let you have the safe haven. If One Heart is not a safe place for gays, it is not the GSA required by law and not a place where gays can feel proud of who they are. Doesn’t matter what it is called, it must promote pride. You get to write the rules.
10. There is power and safety in numbers. The more who join your cause inside the school the more good you can do. This is why YOUR GSA will actually be an Alliance of students. Because you will have fought together.
Gay students must have a safe place inside a Christian school to be gay. Or else it can kill them. Kill their faith. Kill their concepts of self and God. Eventually kill them. Straight students who get taught that it’s okay to deny students their Canadian rights, or push around a minority, or discriminate based on what they were told God thinks will do those things in society. They will lead workplaces and cities and our country. Schools can’t teach intolerance inside a democracy.
Students you have the right to safety. And you have the right to ask for your GSA and to get it. Now go and get what you need.
Don’t leave the school–transform it.
(postcard image by Joyce Majiski)
These words appeared today as search terms used to find information—but found my blog. The story they tell breaks my heart. I don’t know who put the words in, whether father or mother. I do know they are frightened. The question was whole. As if someone just hoped the internet would kick back a whole answer. I do that when I’m desperate, when I’m upset, when I hurt. I put the whole question in, as if I’m divining.
I feel so sad for the parent who wrote this–sad because I can feel that fear, that sense of powerlessness, that you are helpless to watch your child get hurt, or seduced, or taken away. The word “save” in there— it’s a “rescue from danger” word. For a parent to write this in Google is to ask anyone, anyone at all, for advice. Please, please help. I hurt for that parent who is at that stage. I wish I didn’t empathize so much–but what I identify with is a parent’s cry, here, for help, for what they perceive as danger, as out of control. This is much worse than “how do I get my daughter to stop dating thugs”–there’s a whole different, scary feel to it. I want to comfort that parent, but I can’t. I don’t know who it is. And they don’t know me.
I am saddened too that he or she feels as if lesbians and gays are dangerous to their daughter. Oh, I understand where that point of view comes from–it’s not new. I think many of us grew up with people in our community who had that mindset–that people like us were a threat. Some resources I hope that this parent found might be these:
Someone to Talk To—this is a great great resource designed for parents. It answers questions parents have.
Can my gay child change?— for parents who have a child who is coming out, or has come out.
Having a gay friend or a lesbian friend will not cause your own child to “become” gay or lesbian. It doesn’t work that way. Just as having a gay or lesbian friend hasn’t done that to you–if you have one. We don’t rub off on people. We don’t convince them of a theological concept that then makes them act on a sexual impulse. Sexuality is hard-wired. Although many of us might try to be the other way–MANY gays have tried being straight and kept up the pretense of being straight for most of their lifetimes, fifty years or more, with kids to show from it. Being gay doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex with the opposite gender. It means that you aren’t attracted to the other gender sexually.
One final note: I’m glad that lesbian has a friend in your daughter. We need friends too. I hope and pray that you understand that we mean no harm to people–we are just like you. Humans in search of friendship and relationships. There is no need to rescue your children from gay kids in their lives—gay kids need you more than ever.