I’m not just a symbol on my status for a few days showing an equality sign. I’m not just sitting back saying yeah I’m cool with that, but you also wont find me on the picket line screaming and shouting either. I’m a different kind of activist… I’m a Christian- I have been baptized, I pray, and I believe in the father, the son, and the holy spirit.
I have found that many- too many of my friends struggle with this same problem. How can I be an ally and attend church as a believer and truly be honest with myself, my church and mostly God? I struggled with this for a long time and you know what -it kept me farther from my faith and establishing myself with a church. It honestly, kept me farther from God. I would pray in private and had complete faith and trust in God, but when it came to attending church and having a church family that I really desired I didn’t know where I would find it. See because I’m not one of those people that says to others, “Well, because of _____ ,____and _____ you are not a real Christian.” I wont do it to anyone else and I expect the same respect in that.
I have been pretty open about my struggles in this journey with my dear friends…. to them this is nothing new. One day one of my friends said you should try this church- Metropolitan Community Church. Yeah I know what most of you are thinking- What? What kind of church is that? I have never heard of that ever.” I hear often, “Oh is that the church that allows all types of people all worshiping different religions in the same room?” Ha! No, it has its own Christian denomination with currently about 240 churches around the world. But I was reluctant to attend. Why? Because, as far as I knew, I was going to be one of the only straight people to attend. I would be stepping into a situation as a minority. Much like the man who shows up to a baby shower as the only man there…. I knew I’d feel out of place and it would really relate to what sexual orientation that I arrived as and nothing of choice in my own existence much like the man at the baby shower. Really this is all in the man’s head and not really the reality of being ostracized… unless the women are annoying and are constantly bantering on about his presence.
So in April of 2010, I put on my ‘man at a baby shower’ armor and walked in the doors of Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge. Much to my surprise the armor I had worn was really only needed in my head and no annoying person popped their head from the pews and said, “Ha! Look straight people showed up! Well isn’t that cute! Are you strong enough to handle all these queens?” Also, much to my surprise and ignorance I also wasn’t the only ally there either. Sure there were a few, but I wasn’t the only one there. Instead, we were showered with warmth and acceptance. I’m sure some people thought John and I were siblings at some point or friends. But as time progressed and we continued to attend the armor became less and less and instead of liking it… we fell in love with it.
A year later, I was baptized in the beautiful sanctuary in my own way of course. Picking the quietest way to do it and yet in front of everyone and in a massive group of people revisiting their devotion or being baptized for the first time. I still remember the sensation of the water hitting my brow and the look in my pastor’s eyes. His gentle voice blessing me in words of prayer and commitment. I remember my friend, who I’ve known for years, standing at the front near me with tears streaming down her face as she recognized my walk in faith and the acknowledgment of our friendship in my journey here.
As time progressed, we became members and I again had some apprehension of the acceptance from the church. Upon my questioning, of being accepted by the congregation as an ally, our pastor bluntly responded, “I think just being here is enough for everyone to know you are here for the right reasons.” So we stood at the front of the sanctuary, in the Spring of 2011, with a very dear friend of ours becoming members at the same time. We all held hands with one another and our children and entered the congregation as our own family of choice. I am not fond of being in front of people, but that day I was cautiously standing at the front, much like my wedding day in my silly inability to even look up at those showering me with love and we did receive a shower of love from the church. The congregation scooped us up that day, because it meant that much to them for us to be there.
Sometimes it is hard for others to accept that I attend a Christian church and love my LGBT friends and family in such a way. One such person said to me how can you sit in a church filled with sinners? My response was- “Oh wow- you go to a church where people are completely free of sin? Where is that sanctuary filled with just Jesus?” Save yourself the “Is it a sin speech”- cause I’ve read the scripture and heard both sides of it. Still I have the same conclusion- don’t care if it is or isn’t a sin. Don’t care. “But it is a sin and they continue to live out that sin.” Well so are a lot of other things that people in other churches choose to ignore and accept- lying, stealing, adultery…. “Well, if they allow gays they will just start allowing anything, where do you draw the line?” Honestly, I don’t- it’s a church for all people and all families…. there isn’t a line. Oh and I love the “I bet your pastor doesn’t even talk about sin.” Well no he doesn’t often- he talks a whole lot about love and grace… What a shame right? I digress…
Obviously, I’m opinionated about it, but again you wont find me on a picket line or carrying on a full conversation about it, or even humoring an argument. It’s not that I don’t support it that much… it’s that I’m not that person. It’s my faith and my journey not anyone else can choose it for me. I mean I am the person who literally could not look up during their wedding ceremony… if you were there you know what I’m talking about. It is a passion of mine, being an ally, I’m all about loving my neighbor and treating others with grace. So in November of 2011, I was nominated as the second straight person to serve our Board of Directors in the 26 years of its existence. I am second behind the lovely Miss Mamma, who was not welcomed by her home church because she supported the sexuality of her son and became an ally. I love supporting my church with my organizational skills and support in regards to the nursery and the BOD. I love my church family and they love us… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It does take a lot of bravery to do what I do and many people say- Oh I would love to go to that kind of church, but they don’t come. They want to meet others or have couple friends within the church- which is silly to me because most of them have LGBT friends already. They are too afraid of the annoying bantering from the congregation they have in their head or they are reluctant to fight the fight I’ve fought. Really, in the end, it’s not up to others to make you a viable Christian, it’s between you and God. You and your faith journey is supported by many and denied by only those you allow to deny you. I choose to love and accept myself as an ally and love and accept others regardless of their sexual orientation and I’m comfortable in the skin I wear. I’m comfortable enough that my “man at a baby shower” armor is freshly polished and left -in the closet- if you should need to borrow it on your own faith journey.