Happy Birthday Dear Harvey

Tony asks a great question on his blog:

Do you think that Christian leaders who publicly support same sex marriage, gay rights, etc., should be pushed out of the closet?

I think Harvey, whose birthday it is today may have a few insights. Happy birthday to a man I never met, but admire deeply.

“I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say ‘enough’, come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help.” Harvey Milk, 1978


“I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for, an activist, a gay activist, becomes the target or the potential target for a person who is insecure, terrified, afraid, or very disturbed with themselves.” Harvey Milk

I find the way the Tony phrases the question, asking if a person should be “pushed out,” to be interesting.

Knowing my own story, and knowing the story of Harvey, and the lives of so many other Harveys–perhaps at one time afraid, living in secret, or perhaps quietly supporting but not necessarily speaking up or out, and perhaps confronted with love, and wanting to live more fully into love, whatever that looked like (the right person for the job, a romantic interest, a family member, a book deal…)–I would respond this way:

I don’t think anyone should be pushed. But if your conscience, your inner compass, your time dwelling in the Word (if that is your schtick) and your time talking with G-d tells you that this is an issue of justice, of love, of what is right, then yes. I think all leaders should stand, speak and proclaim what they believe. Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual, Transpeople, Queer/Questioning, Intersexed, friends, pastors, family members, all ya’ll.

This has two purposes: One, for leaders, specifically Christian, it is your call, your duty to preach and proclaim G-d and G-d’s love and Kingdom as you understand it. Now, we may come to a different understanding (I bet we will, I hope we do!), but that does not mean you should not proclaim. Two: as the hearers of you proclamation, we can make healthy, honest, good, discerning decisions about how to wrestle with, deal with, or perhaps challenge your understanding.

And I am grateful that Tony has stepped out and done what he has. G-d grant us the courage to speak truth in love, always.