Life is full of misconceptions. Most of us are no strangers to the ones about gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people:
“People who are ‘that way’ are promiscuous.”
“Gay people are more likely to be pedophiles or sex offenders.”
“Gays and lesbians are mentally ill.”
(Just to name a few, of course.)
However… today, I’d like to admit to a couple misconceptions of my own. You see, I’ve begun to realize that I’ve clung to a few stereotypes myself. It’s happened so gradually, I didn’t know that these notions had taken root. For instance, I’ve grown accustomed to thinking that fiercely religious people from my parents’ or grandparents’ generation all have the same beliefs about homosexuality. I assumed, of course, that they all believe that it’s filthy, sinful, and an abomination. Sure, these people are sweet, but they grew up in a different time, and therefore have old-fashioned beliefs. Right?
Guess what? They’re actually not all that way! I’m sure that most of you are far ahead of me on this one. I’ve come to realize that the generational gap—in most cases—has little to do with a person’s moral convictions about homosexuality. The factors that shape their beliefs are the same ones that shape mine: experiences, research, Spirit-led convictions. I realized that I was guilty of overgeneralization. I had projected my hurt, rejection, and pain from past experiences onto these individuals, and I had never given them the proper chance to express their acceptance and love for me and my LGBT brothers and sisters.
Another misconception I’m calling myself out on? Until recently, I truly believed there was no church that would truly welcome me unless it was a “gay church”. Now, I love gay churches—adore them, even! But I dream of a day when all of God’s people can join together and worship—gay and straight alike—in every congregation across the world. The fact is, congregations like this exist… and they are growing in number. I’ve recently become involved in a church just like this; and I can assure you, God is profoundly present there. (If you are looking for a place of acceptance and affirmation, I recommend visiting gaychurch.org. It’s the most comprehensive list I know of for locating gay-friendly congregations worldwide.)
So may I challenge all of us to examine and annihilate our misconceptions of others. May we work toward inclusion rather than exclusion. May we seek unity rather than perpetuate discord.
May we love.