Joan Garry shares with her readers the story of having her family transformed into a comic and muses about whether her orientation is a kryptonite or a superpower.
This deliberation is not something that is uncommon to many gay and transgender individuals. Is being gay a burden to bear? Is being trans a power that propels one forward?
Over at The Point, jason taylor suggests in a comment:
Gays already have all the rights that are necessary to act in their chosen manner and therefore political aggressiveness is just annoying.Overlooking the fact that gay and trans individuals--and couples, especially--do not have all the same rights, I appreciate part of his point nonetheless. He is correct in later noting that gay groups have a legal right to exist, that gay couples are legally allowed to pair up, and that the government does not prohibit churches from performing purely religious marriages for gay couples (which are completely unrecognized by the state).
Yes, I have a very basic right to exist, tempered as that may be by threat of expulsion from certain schools, firing from any job, removal from my church, ostracization from my family and community... thankfully none of those are problems in my life. I am surrounded by friends who love and support me and who actively seek to lift up my relationships. My co-workers are sensitive to issues of orientation and identity. I go to a church which not only accepts me, but advocates on my behalf. I know that any one of the pastors would be happy to marry me. And I will always have a home with my parents.
And yet I continue to be an advocate.
I remind my co-workers that it is still permissible in New York state to fire someone based soley on his or her gender identity. I tell military recruiters that I considered serving my country in that way but I am not allowed to. I talk about the importance of marriage equality to my straight friends. I explain the intersection of my faith and my identity to my pastor from home.
But do not feel sorry for me that I cannot get married in my home state. Do not pity me that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which I grew up finds me "incompatible with the confession of Jesus as Lord." For I have studied the Word of God and I have searched my heart and I have prayed ceaselessly with the Holy Spirit. I have found safe spaces in my life and support in my love. And most importantly I see myself as God sees me: as a perfectly loved child who desires to love and serve the Lord.
When I was on Equality Ride I shared the many things I was told along the way. In a conversation with my good friend Meilee recently, she said to me "There are so many reasons why you could have stopped being a Christian... you 'shouldn't' be a Christian, but you are. I imagine that means something." And I imagine it does, too. The deacon who was my mentor during my church membership class told me something I will never forget: "You don't choose God, God chooses you. And when that happens, God never lets go." Ain't that the truth. A Duke editorial questions "gay pride" but Casey rightly notes, "when there are a million reasons to hide in the shadows and deny who we are, it is right to be proud of honesty and integrity, and yes, that God created us differently and beautifully." I am proud of my God and I am proud of the way God made me and I proud of the mission God has choose for me: to speak for those living in silence and for those living in oppression--not under oppression, but by oppressing others. I might not have realized it at first, but I am that guy.
And so, when I meet with my former pastor to explain what it means to be gay and seek his support, when I ask lawmakers to support equality, when I point out the glaring disparities between gay and straight people in this country, I do not do it for myself. I continue to advocate for the acceptance of gay and trans people because I agree with Bram when he says, "Causing or even allowing any of God's children to feel like something less than His perfectly loved child may be the greatest heresy of the Christian faith." I speak out not for myself but for the members of my church in Maryland, for my pastor, for the elected officials in my state, and even for the administrators at anti-gay Christian schools. I speak out because I understand that they are coming from a place of misinformation and misunderstanding, despite the best of their intentions. I speak out that I may call others to be better, stronger, more Christlike.
And if you are straight, I am not asking for your consolation, or your compassion, your understanding, or your support. I am asking for your action. I am asking for you to rise to the tradition of this great country and--for Christians--to the greatness of your faith. I am not asking for full equality so that I might have it, but so that others might not deny me of it.
So when you realize that I am still a second-class citizen in this country and in many churches, do not feel sorry for me--for I am strong. Are you?