So You’re Gay. Why Can’t You Just Shut Up About It?

713307_82954404This was said to me by a former colleague of mine, albeit slightly more politically correct. I think she said something like: “Why do we have to talk about this? Why can’t you just be quiet?” This came at a crucial time in my life; I was at a crossroads. I could either stay in a ministry which did not accept any aspect of my orientation, or I could resign. I could lie, or I could be true to myself. Put that way, the choice seems easy. I should be a hero, right? Live honestly. Sacrifice comfort for truth. But I enjoyed what I did. I loved the ministry. I loved serving in that capacity. So, I learned to compromise. I told half-truths. I lived a double-life. For a time, I shut up about it.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the decision to do so was not in my best interest. It could only last so long: Censoring my personal life; editing pronouns; serving people who I knew would not approve of me (or perhaps not even like me at all) if they knew the truth. For those of us in the LGBT community, these stories are all too familiar. But what saddens me most about situations such as these is not the fact that folks may disagree on LGBT issues, but the fact there is an overall unwillingness for such discussions.

Growing up in a religiously conservative environment, I can recall the fear that surrounded topics such as LGBT issues. It can be an uncomfortable conversation for some folks… and it’s easy to forget that fact once we’ve spent our fair share of time in more progressive circles. But there are a few things I would like to get out into the open. For those folks who wonder why we can’t just shut up about it? Our answer may be a little different than you think.

Most of the LGBT folks I know aren’t interested in running through the streets wearing nothing but a rainbow flag. They don’t want to shout their orientation from the rooftops. They don’t set out to “flaunt” affection in order to make you uncomfortable. They don’t desire to make waves, start arguments, or become poster children for controversy.

Personally, what I want is pretty simple. I want to live in community and fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I want LGBT Christians to be valued for their talents and gifts. I want to serve—to live a life of love and compassion. Most of us long for the day when sexual orientation and gender identity are no longer factors for determining human worth in our religious institutions.

One thing we’ve learned from history: issues don’t disappear when we stop talking about them. And one thing we’ve learned from statistics? Someone you know is LGBT. Yes, even someone in your congregation; and in many cases, it is someone in a leadership role. Instead of pretending people are someone they aren’t, why not seek safe spaces for conversation? Why not tear down those invisible barriers that keep us from true fellowship? It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be pretty. But it is the right thing, plain and simple. Because right now, the message that millions of LGBT Christians are hearing is: “You can continue to serve and use your talents as long as you hide who you are.”

Surely, there has to be a better answer. And that is why I, for one, can no longer shut up about it.

3 responses to “So You’re Gay. Why Can’t You Just Shut Up About It?

  1. I relate to this article. I finally let my last leadership role go…serving children. I enjoyed this ministry. I was very torn for the longest but now it feels like the right time. I not only notified the leadership it was time for them to find a new children’s worship coordinator but I told them why. I admitted that I’m choosing to proceed with dating. I had been told I could stay in leadership role as long as I didn’t “act on” my attraction to women. It’s a strange boundary. What is ones definition of “acting on?” And why would that hinder my desire to teach children about the love of God through Christ?
    I also shared that I can’t fully support a church that doesn’t fully support same-sex couples. It seems wrong to me because of what I now know through my own personal awareness, through studying the love of Christ, and through listening to so many other people who have been hurt by ignorance and injustices.
    Anyway, I feel good about the decision. I don’t feel like I’m turning my back on God and going off to do my own thing, but it is more like I’m headed in a direction inspired by God. Not just to be dating, but in drawing people to God’s love. My hope is to draw people or be drawn to people who want to seek God’s love but don’t feel comfortable or included in a church setting. I hope to learn from these people (whoever they might be) and that I’m blessed with an opportunity to share the love of God authentically. Maybe a church will develop in my house. Or who knows what I will learn by the grace and mercy of God? I might fall right on my face. I’ve never been so less involved at church in all my life. But my lack of involvement in church has only opened up more involvement outside of church and I have not stopped practicing Christianity as a way of life. And not one part of me feels separated by God’s love. And I’m finding that as I put space between me and the “Religion” aspect of this church family I have know for 14 years, there is becoming more space for faith and trust in God.
    And hiding is not an option. Of course I don’t go shouting it around, but I do have a desire to share who I am, to support same-sex couples, and to believe in the love of Christ…and I am “acting on” all these.

  2. I am left-handed. I don’t talk about it. Why should I? If someone observes me writing with my left hand and comments, I acknowledge it. If anyone thought it made me inferior, I would want a pride march. And if anyone thought me acknowledging being left handed was “not shutting up about it” I would never shut up about it.

  3. Pingback: Not shutting up | Clare Flourish

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