The other day I was on Twitter and saw a tweet come across my timeline that polled followers’ responses to the following question: “If you are LGBT and your pastor isn’t willing to speak out against homophobia, do you think they value you? Feel free to share why.” And it got me thinking, “do I?”
This is a struggle that LGBT+ Christians have to constantly confront, among others. In a time where the battle against homophobia — both on a social level and religious level — is alive and well (especially in America after its most recent election), do we feel welcomed at a place that doesn’t vocally speak out against the voices that put us down? Do we feel valued by a local community that sits idly by while we get mocked and torn down?
John Backman is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about John in his bio at the end of the piece.
It always stuns me, and it shouldn’t because I’ve seen it so often: the same issue keeps popping up again and again in wildly unrelated contexts. Like this past month, when a lesson I’ve been learning as a spiritual director magically appeared in a story about the Church and LGBTQ+ people.
The lesson has to do with our need to “get somewhere.”
It first came up in my supervision group. (Many spiritual directors meet with a “supervision group”—usually a wiser, more experienced director and a few of us novices—to make sure our work is on track.) I’d been having great sessions with a directee, but they seemed scattered: there was no moving toward a goal, or solving a problem. They weren’t, in other words, “getting anywhere.” And it made me wonder if we were supposed to be getting anywhere.
Heather Newell is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about Heather in her bio at the end of the piece.
I spent over a third of my twenties living, breathing, and working in Rwanda, the small East African country known for its delicious Arabica coffee and the horrific 1994 genocide. Dubbed the “land of a thousand hills” Rwanda is inexpressibly stunning with its ornate, rolling green tea plots, bean fields, and banana plantations.
The beginnings of my life in Rwanda took place in an Eastern rural village that valued fresh milk, fat goats, Sunday visits to family, and most prominently, God. The United States Peace Corps decided I would be a good fit for this community as an English Secondary School teacher.
More than a culmination of projects and classroom lessons, my life in Rwanda probed me in pursuit of self-identity as I re-visited questions of my sexual orientation. Despite an unshakeable knowing of who I was since a young girl, I was too fearful to live authentically as a gay woman. I spent years of layered, internal resistance to “being gay” and hence, ignoring and denying that I might have been born differently than my friends, neighbors, and much of the population of our world.