In light of the passage of Proposition 8 with the denial and removal of rights for gay and lesbian couples, and the other anti-gay ballot measures recently passed, the inclusion of Rick Warren in the upcoming US presidential inauguration festivities, and recent anti-gay comments by the Pope (along with may many other previous anti-gay statements), I wish to write an open letter to my oppressors, many of them fellow Christians.
Yes, I hear you. I am not deaf to your messages. To the Holy Father in Rome, Reverend Rick Warren in California, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the many supporters of Prop 8, Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and so many others who publicly speak out against LGBT people and our rights, I hear you loud and clear. No matter how you sugarcoat it and wrap it up with smiles and scripture and say that you are nothing like the extremist, Fred Phelps, I hear your message loud and clear telling me that I am inferior and unwanted in your world. These are not your words, but all the same this is the message you communicate.
I hear you insist time and time again in multiple ways that heterosexuals are superior to gays and lesbians. Your marriages, your homes, your “lifestyles” are normal, but mine? Not so much. I hear you declare that I am not capable of producing anything good or beneficial other than some window treatments or a decent hair style. In essence I hear you say that I am a worthless piece of shit and the cause of untold woes and problems, the harbinger of even worst things to come.
Some of your best friends may be gay, and you may profess that you really love the homosexual, but all the while your words and aggressively anti-gay activism consistently serve to dehumanize me–to present me and my kind as oversexed, deformed animals.
You remain steadfast in your opposition to the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church. You oppose, limit and even remove rights in order to keep us unequal and legally inferior. You spend exorbitant amounts of money and time telling lies about us while expending so little energy actually getting to know us. You deal with theories, not reality. And you are wrong, dead wrong.
You treat us as an inconvenient and unwanted Christmas gift that you desperately wish to exchange for something better. You belittle our love, our families, our faith, our morals, our very lives while all the time you claim to speak the truth in love. This is not love. This is fear. It is control and oppression, and it is the rejection of God’s gifts to the church, society and in some cases to your very families.
I know all about rejecting this gift. I did it for years as I repented daily of the same-sex attractions and gender differences I found inside me. I demonized my sexuality and believed no good could come of my gay orientation. I proceeded to return this gift as I bullied God for something else–I coveted my straight neighbor’s life believing the propaganda that his was the idealized norm to follow instead of trusting God for the life I had been given.
In the midst of all that I experienced grace and tenderness from God, extreme patience, kindness ultimately leading to a deeper repentance, one based in Light and reality, a repentance that recognizes that a gay orientation and gender differences came to me as an astonishing gift of power and beauty.
I confess I do not possess the same patience and understanding as God. Your words, your bully tactics, your unbridled and arrogant superiority sicken me. I struggle to love you or call you brother. Yet I remember the years that I persecuted myself and others, the dread of change that ruled my life and my narrow faith, and the need to contain everything in simple boxes with no unanswered questions or gray areas.
I may be a peace-loving Quaker and a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I am going to avoid confrontation or assume we can all just hold hands and overlook our differences. To do so would be to support your oppression and enable you to continue in it with my permission. I point out to you what you may be unwilling or unable to see. You stand as oppressors, bullies, abusers imposing your sexuality and religious views on others. Are your hearts evil and full of bad intentions? I cannot say. I do not speak of your hearts but of your actions and your words.
In spite of the opposition and the oppression, we will thrive. Transgender people, lesbians, bisexuals, and gays will have our families, our faith, our places in our communities. We will walk hand in hand with our partners without apology and without shame. We will enjoy our sexual lives as a expression of our love and as a conduit of pleasure–pure and simple. We will not go away or heed your flawed and uninformed message.
And perhaps one day you will come to your senses. Perhaps you will see with clearer eyes. Perhaps you too will repent of your bullying and the rejection of the gifts among you. Regardless, we will not back down, and we will continue to live our lives with dignity.