• Bethany


I have tried twice to write a post about Pride, but have gotten so angry halfway through writing it that the post was unpublishable.

I don't want to scar people with the intensity of my wrath, so here's take 3.

I've been out publicly for almost a year. It's been one of the longest, scariest, most difficult, best years of my life. Coming out has been one of the scariest things I've ever done (topped only by getting divorced and being closeted) but it is 100% worth it to be able to be myself in my normal life. The chance to live a life embracing all the wonderful queer parts of me has been so wonderful so far.

One beautiful thing about being out publicly has been meeting all the people who are still in the closet, but who feel they can confide in me because they identify me as a fellow queer and a safe person. I've been so honoured that so many people would trust me with their experiences, and I have tried really hard to help them feel seen and loved and affirmed. Another great thing is that the coming out experience has made me a very passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and affirmation in the church. I'm sorry to say that it took the terror of realizing I was part of a marginalized community for me to get serious about educating myself about other marginalized communities, particularly around racism.

The last thing I'll mention is that coming out has made me feel more like me. I feel more alive, more interested in the world, and just more able to be me. It's great.

But it isn't all sunshine and roses. And the kind of anger I feel is the kind of anger that will eat you alive if you let it, so while I'm going to express some reasons for that anger, know that I am trying each day to temper it (heh) with kindness, gentleness, love, and an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering within myself and those around me.

One thing that makes me mad is when people try to tell me or anyone else that our sexuality is bad or "not God's best" or something I should view as a sin. Because embracing my bisexuality has made me so happy, and has brought so many good things and good people into my life. I have become a lot more sweary in the last 6 months, but I'm trying to reel it in a little. Just know that I am still thinking those words and I think them when the topic of "non-affirming" theology comes up. Another part that makes me mad is when I meet people who are closeted (and I have met A LOT of closeted people). It isn't their being closeted that makes me mad (LOL), it's the people who force them into the closet and who are often completely unaware that they're doing it that make me mad. Because they're unaware NOT in an "oh! I'm so sorry! I just realized! Please forgive me! I'll be better!" way but in an "I don't even care" or "I don't want to look, and even if I did know I would have some great reason for it that, of course, justifies my oppression." And that makes me pretty mad. When I go to an LGBTQ+ Christian virtual conference and I see people who are closeted speaking quietly into their headphones so their families don't hear, or people who have to go suddenly because someone has come home who can't know they're at an LGBTQ+ conference, I feel pretty mad. And part of me wants to put that anger to good use. Part of me wants to sneak into the houses of non-affirming, homophobic people at night and ask them very loudly how they can sleep at night knowing that they're causing so much pain, harm, and death with their beliefs. Part of me wants to fight people. But another part of me, maybe the part that's gone to therapy for many years, knows that while the anger is completely justifiable it also comes from a place of deep personal pain and sadness. Because seeing the hurt of my fellow LGBTQ+ folx hurts me so deeply, and all the hurt I've experienced as a queer person goes to my core. I watched a TV show a few weeks ago where this teenage character comes out as a lesbian to her mom. The mom is surprised at first, but ultimately accepting and you can tell they're gonna work it out okay. And I cried because when I came out my parents did not say anything half so kind or accepting as this character's mom said to her. I went to my first Pride parade last summer, before I was out publicly, and basked in the warmth of a celebratory atmosphere. And I realized I would never experience that atmosphere in the church I went to which doesn't have an official stance on LGBTQ+ inclusion (I think it's code for "as long as we can avoid this issue and the massive problems it's likely to cause in our community, we will"). During the parade, I saw what appeared to be a family with two parents and a teenager standing together. The teenager was decked out in full Pride regalia, and people I thought were parents stood smiling next to them, wearing more muted tones. And I felt so sad because my parents will never come to a Pride parade with me. And the pain of all these experiences (and many others) hurts, but it pales in comparison to the anger I feel towards the people out there right now who are perpetuating this pain in the lives of so many other people. And not just emotional, interpersonal pain like I've experienced, but perpetuating actual physical violence and murder against LGBTQ+ people while so many churches do nothing (or churches who become the perpetrators of such violence). And it all makes me wonder why I still go to church. Why I still associate with an institution whose loudest voices tell me things about myself that are untrue. I think it's important to tell you these things because violence against LGBTQ+ people matters. The murder of black trans people matters. The fact that there is no justice for them matters. It matters a lot. And so many people think that everything's good for "the gays" now, but I'm here to tell you there are still battles to fight, people to convince, tears to shed, and harmful situations to leave. And if you are one of the ones who can't say in your heart "I celebrate sexual and gender diversity in this world", then take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can continue being part of a movement which causes so much pain, violence, and death and still sleep at night. Because I sure can't sleep at night thinking about the pain, violence, and death which you cause and perpetuate. So Happy Pride to all my closeted people! I see you; I care about you; I celebrate you. And Happy Pride to all my out-and-proud peeps! For those of you for whom the road has been pretty painless: it makes me so happy that you have experienced things as they ought to be in this world! It's such a relief for this idealist that sometimes things are as they ought to be. For those of you who've experienced trauma, loss, pain, fear, and everything else that comes with a rocky road to being out publicly, I am with you.

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