come out, come out: a conversation continues

The conversation continues from my post yesterday. My friend goes on to say (this is the first email in the exchange):

… but people who won’t say what they really believe, or who will say it
behind closed doors but not in public; those are the dangerous folks.
the ones who make you feel safe but then stay silent when you are
being persecuted. the ones who make you feel like their theology is
different but then preach or vote against your family. while i don’t
need the rainbows or the parade, i do need more than silence or tacit
approval. because while i am fortunate to live in a city that is
awesome, have a job, have a family that loves me (even though they
don’t approve of my “lifestyle”) etc. etc. etc. i realize that there
are people who are still being killed. and i know you know all of
this. but what happens, then, when a church won’t take a stand? when
they are silent they are complicit in violence.

and i hope this doesn’t feel like an attack against you (or even
solomon’s porch specifically) but a challenge to be thinking about
what being an ally means (for a church and a community), what it means
to support and love people. i think solomon’s porch is gay friendly
however i don’t think they are allies and that is a huge distinction
in my mind.

i’m not saying solomon’s porch needs to put a rainbow flag on their
building, but i do think they need to be willing to say where they
stand even if it means losing support of the religious right or the
evangelical roots they came from. if they are not ready to come out as
a true ally, then they need to be clear about that as well. it cannot
be a wishy-washy “support” or a silent approval. i see a lot of this
on twitter with the #outlawpreachers hashtag (not sure if you follow
that or not). and i see a lot of people saying, “we all sin and so we
should be forgiving” and that’s just crap. who i love isn’t a sin. who
i was born to be isn’t a sin. but yet those folks say those things and
call themselves allies and the reality is that that isn’t what being
an ally is.

i say all of this encourage you to keep pushing solomon’s porch
further along the path towards being allies. i desperately want them
to be allies, to get off of the fence and to move towards wholeness
for all people. i wish i could be a part of that community, but i
can’t be in a place that won’t state their support without wavering. i
have lost the energy for that fight even though i know it’s important
and i hope that there are people who still do have the energy for it.

Then there are some personal bits I am leaving out but then my friend closes with this:

i really, really don’t want this to come off as an attack. please know this comes from a place
that is grateful for you and your witness and is heartbroken for what i see to be the lack of witness at the porch.
much love to you and your sweetie!!

Next post will include my response to this email. Thank you for adding your voice and joining in the conversation.

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14 thoughts on “come out, come out: a conversation continues

  1. I’m on my phone at the moment. I didn’t comment last night as I wanted to finish reading the thoughts. I want to dive into this discussion so I wanted to post something to say I’m here and reading.

    I think your friend (our friend, for better words, although I don’t know who this is.) has some good points and I brought those out in my discussion this weekend.

    Anyway, just wanted to drop in quickly and say that I’m reading. I will also post some reaction later as well.

    Much love!

    Jules

  2. Where to start… Where to start…

    As you know I’ve been struggling with the official Porch Statement as well. Not because the issue hasn’t been previously addressed. But because, for me, this church is like no other that I have ever experienced. The closest thing to a set of Porch belief statements can be found in the “Who We Are” section of SolomonsPorch.com. I would encourage your friend to take everything they know about a typical church and throw it out the window because Solomons Porch is atypical to say the least. You will not find what your looking for in the typical places.

    For me the issue was addressed from the get go. Before coming to the porch, I asked Doug what the official gay policy was. We discussed this over lunch and he stated there was no policy, all are welcomed as they are in this community. He also stated that he would stand with me even if we were the last 2 members. I began participating in the community and as I came out to 2 new friends, Luke stated that most people around here will accept whatever you bring to the table and Carole said thank god, now we can just be friends and not have to deal with people trying to match us up. That to me is authentically accepting me as I am, no rules apply. 2 years later, after setting on the stool with my friend Naomi about 1 yr ago, sharing my story, and coming out to the community. I am reaffirmed every time I gather anywhere with porch folks. Which was not my experience when I came out to my previous church.

    For me this church has been a sanctuary that has carried me through two major changes in my life, Divorce from a 20yr marriage and coming out as a Gay Christian. The list of allies here who have taken a stand with me is longer than i care to include in this post. While it’s true that as a church there was no representation in the Pride Parade, maybe your friend is the one who can take us there. I would say that the queer folks in this community are the statement that your friend seeks. If your friend is not with us, our statement is lesser than if they were among us.

    I can assure you that Doug has taken a stand. He has taken a stand for me and for everyone else at the porch. Specifically this comes out when we come across scripture that the fundies have used to oppress us. Doug puts those scriptures in the context in which they were created and names the bullshit theology – bullshit. There are others in the “emergent” movement that have taken a public stand with the gay community only to have doors slammed in there face from both sides. Which is what happens when you draw the line and take a stand. So now stands have been made, doors have been slammed shut, and the culture war rages on.

    The war needs to stop. Standing in the gap between, rather than on either side, we can bring the two together. The far right needs to see that we are not a theological issue, we are real people created in Gods image. Choosing to separate yourself from this enemy will only reinforce positions from both perspectives. Communing with them and loving them as they are will destroy the gap and show them the Jesus that is within you.

    Thanks so much for posting this Rachel and Thank your friend for letting you. I’ve enjoyed thinking about what Ally means for me. It challenges me and I hope it challenges my allies as well as it was intended. Living in the tension is where change happens. Our friend, if you have “lost the energy for the fight”, why should an ally stand up and fight for you.

    Love and Peace
    Bryan

    FYI: Out of all my fb friends both, straight and gay. The majority of those who handed over there status’ to Outfront for National Coming Out day were allies and one of them was the quintessential #outlawpreacher.

  3. I am copying and pasting the comment I left on the FaceBook page here. I wrote this before I read the other comments here and after reading the comments I do get the impression that Solomon’s Porch is different (in a good way) but I don’t understand what is different in having a gay person be in leadership and coming out and saying that you are affirming. Why make that distinction?

    Here’s what I left on Facebook

    Rachel – I was just talking about this with someone the other day and there was also a great post at religion dispatches that said something similar to what your friend said (here’s the link if you are interested: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/3479/why_anti-gay_bullying_is_a_theological_issue/

    I have to agree with your friend because I feel that this is about much more than trying not to make anyone uncomfortable or everyone getting along or making a place for everyone at the table … this is about an injustice that is being done and I don’t believe that it is enough for us to be silently affirming or accepting, I don’t believe it is enough for us to only talk about being an ally of the LGBT community with others that agree with us. I believe that we have to step up and speak out on the behalf of those who are oppressed, on behalf of those who don’t have a voice or not a very loud one, on behalf of those who are oppressed and marginalized and condemned unjustly.

    To tell the truth I have to talk myself into living this out on a regular basis. For instance, when someone from the church I attended for years sends me a friend request on Facebook I cringe because I am pretty sure they will be critical of me being an LGBT ally, of me being in favor of legalizing same sex marriage, of me believing that scripture does not prohibit same sex marriage. I want to just ignore their request but I make myself accept it because maybe, just maybe, they believe like I do but have been afraid to speak up and seeing someone else speak up will encourage them to do the same – maybe, just maybe, they have questions and my status updates and comments and shared info will make them curious enough to do their own research – maybe, just maybe, something they read on my facebook page will change their perspective.

    I believe that every time a straight Christian or a church speaks out and says loud and clear “I am/We are allies of the LGBT community and we are affirming and we don’t believe that scripture condemns them or same sex relationships” it makes a difference – it empowers someone else to speak out – it causes someone to begin rethinking what they believe – it encourages people to listen to all sides and study for themselves – it is the catalyst that changes the future for the better for LGBT people and those who stand beside them.

    I believe all of that because that is what happened to me. Hugh Hollowell wrote a post for Queermergent and inspired me to speak out about my affirmation of LGBT people – his courage empowered and inspired me.

    I’m not putting this burden on LGBT people because of all the shit they already have dealt with and still have to deal with. I’m putting the burden on straight allies (individuals and groups) to step up and speak out about their affirmation and if it alienates some then so be it. Who would hesitate to alienate someone who was racially prejudice? How is this any different?

    I am glad that you have Solomon’s Porch and that you are loved there. I don’t think you have the responsibility of changing things there. But, I do hold Doug responsible (and I should add here: other straight allies at SP). I think Solomon’s Porch should be openly and vocally affirming.

    I also have a problem with Andrew Marin’s organization in the same way. I know they are doing some good things but I think they should let people know where they stand on the issues.

  4. Bryan – It is interesting and we probably both thought of Andrew because the stance of his foundation and SP are very similar. I was particularly upset with a post from Andrew that I saw today because I don’t see how he can be critical of Dan Savage and the “It Gets Better” campaign. Here’s the link to his post if you are interested: http://www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11639266/page2/

    My position is that I believe we should stand up against injustice even if it offends someone. There are certainly some theological things that are not worth taking a stand – but when it comes to a belief causing a whole group of people to be oppressed, marginalized and abused – well, that’s a different story.

    We have young people killing themselves because they can’t bear to look forward to a life of being the target of prejudice – same sex couples are dealing with all kinds of unjust situations (they can’t make end of life decisions for their life long partner, they can’t be on each other’s ins. policies, if they have children there are not laws that assure the child will still have a relationship with both parents, they don’t get the tax breaks that heterosexual couples do and so on and so on). I can’t imagine what all of that must feel like – how overwhelming it must be.

    You say if Rachel’s friend has lost the energy for the fight why should an ally fight for her … in my mind it is because straight allies come from a place of privilege – they/we haven’t had to endure the prejudice, the oppression, the abuse – and in my mind we are supposed to stand up for the innocent who have been beaten down by the system. I am willing to stand up and fight for Rachel’s friend and for any LGBT people who are too tired to fight for themselves.

  5. I think it depends on what one wants, needs or expects from one’s faith community.

    I left the United Church of Christ because I was tired of having sexual orientation conversations in my *home*. I’m fine doing that as an ecumenical conversation, but when I go to the communion table, I need to know that the people standing next to me *want* me there.

    So I went to the Metropolitan Community Church. It has been amazing. There is far more racial, ethnic, theological and economic diversity in my MCC congregation than in any other liberal mainline Protestant one I’ve experienced. One’s sexual orientation may or may not be of interest to anybody, but it’s a specific, personal kind of interest.

    I later fell in with House for All Sinners and Saints as well. And while it’s clear the pastor has particular ideas and sympathies, and that many in the congregation share them, the congregation as a whole has not taken an official stand (to the best of my knowledge). I have found that I don’t mind. When I go to the table, everyone wants me there. Some of them may question aspects of my life that are central to my identity, not only my sexual identity but my Christian identity, but they *want* me there. Even if they didn’t, my pastor would personally kick their beloved asses if they made me feel unwelcome in any way.

    I find that liberating, in a different but complementary way to my MCC experience. Because I am free to welcome them in *my* disapproval as well. Soldier? Investment banker? Driver of an SUV? War, economics and the environment are not somehow less important than intimate relationships. I would guess that war, poverty and pollution have contributed to at least as many deaths as homophobia.

    That is the tricky thing about expecting justice from a faith community. I think expecting a faith community to *seek* justice is reasonable. Expecting each member to agree on what that looks like in all details is not. I mean, just in the area of sexual orientation, along with being bisexual, I’m polyamorous. I fully support making same-sex marriage legal and believe that anyone who supports secular discrimination in the name of theological purity is sinning most grievously; at the same time, I am painfully aware of how the rhetoric quite deliberately excludes families like my own. “We are good monogamous citizens! No need to fear us! We are just like you, except with different plumbing!” Well, okay then. Do I yell at or simply shun my monogamous queer brothers and sisters, who get yelled at and shunned plenty by society as it is, because they have fallen short of some higher standard of justice? How is that compassionate, loving, kind?

    I do not expect any Christian individual or institution to recognize my worth as anything but a child of God. I want and need to be affirmed in other ways, and so I seek out congregations that can do that for me, so that I am strengthened to do good work in the world. I do expect Christian individuals and institutions to dialogue with their brothers and sisters with whom they disagree; I am not convinced that the local congregation is always the best place to do that. A congregation that says “we have queers, and we are friendly” instead of “we are queer-friendly” may be the wrong place for many people, but I do not believe it has betrayed anyone.

    However, I think individuals and institutions that don’t take a stand deserve whatever suspicion and anger they attract from people unfamiliar with them. An actual lived experience of being welcomed cannot be replaced by a “trust us” self-description as welcoming. Congregations that choose not to make an official statement must be aware that they are deliberately choosing to scare some people away. By the same token, congregations that *do* choose to make an official statement must be aware that they are deliberately choosing to scare some (different) people away. That’s what it is like, living in a fallen world.

  6. Liz, I’m curious about what you mean by the stance of Andrew’s foundation and SP being very similar. I’m not all that familiar with Andrew’s group, so I’m interested to know what you mean.

  7. Carla – I mean that they both decline to declare a stance on same sex relationships. But, to be fair, I get the impression that SP is affirming but just doesn’t say it and that Marin’s Foundation is not affirming but just doesn’t say it.

  8. I cannot speak on SP specifically since I am not someone who has visited nor has been a part of the community there. However, I think there is a both/and thing here. This weekend I spoke at Subverting the Norm. My subject was “The Open Invitation: Tearing Down Labels at the Door”. As I prepared for that subject I came across a lot of thoughts. It seemed God had a plan in all of this. Interestingly, and something I loved, I got challenged back. People wanted to see the LGBTQ celebrated in a gathering. They wanted to have some time of celebration of LGBTQ in some way. This was interesting to me. They loved the idea that in their service that was reserved for that “label” to be celebrated. For myself, I wanted to present the idea of coming to the gathering as we are. No labels, that leaving those at the door allow us to be there for the refreshment of the gathering. At the end of the day we are not there to be affirmed, but to be pushed to see the story of the gospel and to be be renewed by it. My one concern is that when we celebrate one label what other labels are we missing? Does any gathering affirm and support families or people with disabilities or handicaps?,ect. Being a lesbian/queer I want to know that who I am is most important and what I’m there for. That would go for someone that is more conservative than me as well. I want them to know I am more about who they are and why they are there. We have to make room for the full table and I’m not sure we can by setting various lines in the sand.

    I say that also with some reservation. It is helpful as LGBT to know if a gathering affirms you. It is nice to know that they support the things that help me and my queer family. However, for myself (and others) the gathering doesn’t truly have to do that.

    On bringing up the Outlaw Preachers. I’m a bit gun shy to do this, but I will make a brief comment. My greatest concern is not what the e-mailer said here, but very much the opposite. What I have seen is this “poster child” thing. I have felt in watching the hashtag is that there is a large portion (not all) use LGBT to use as something as to why they are inclusive and use that to badger someone who may not be a supporter of LGBT. This makes me very uncomfortable and makes things worse for those of who are LGBT. I’ll leave it at that.

    On Andrew….I don’t know that we can say that he or his foundation is unaffirming as he does have LGBT who work with him at the foundation. So to say the foundation isn’t affirming would not be true as he has people who work for the foundation who are LGBT. So I encourage before we start Andrew bashing, that we make sure to know fully what his foundation does and who works for him. I have always felt a bit uncomfortable with Andrew, but what I realized is that his “job” isn’t to say where he stands, but to bridge. I have come to appreciate this because his book a lone has helped me have talks with those who have felt being gay is a sin,because they read that book they were comfortable enough to talk to me and ask questions. So I don’t think that bringing Andrew into this discussion is relevant as his foundation isn’t about whether or not he is affirming, but to build a bridge against the culture wars. His foundation does research on LGBT and to know where they are at on the religion,faith,spirituality spectrum. So take it or leave it, but I think that we must keep in mind what the foundation truly is and not ask it to be something it isn’t.

  9. hey all. thank you so much for all of your thoughtful comments. i want to mostly stay out of the commenting so that this dialogue can happen without too much of my exerting control, but i just wanted to offer one quick comment to bryan and liz: bryan, when i say that i have lost the energy for the fight what i mean is, i shouldn’t have to get my church to be on board with who i am. that’s the point of church. and i want to thank liz for her comment in saying that as an ally she feels that it’s her job to advocate. i would echo that and thank her for it. i can’t worship in a place where i have to be continually fighting for my own inclusion. i am too busy doing that at work, in trying to build relationships, even within the GLB community who don’t understand trans issues and who want to tell trans people that they don’t believe. i have to fight for justice in SO MANY areas of my life that i would like to be able to worship in a place where i can feel at peace.

    and one more quick note: i am happy to see some of my ideas about SP being challenged and glad to see that doug has said to people that they are welcome there. doug, may i kindly ask you to refrain from answering the question “is solomon’s porch queer friendly” by saying “there are queer people here, and we’re friendly”? when you said that to me it sounded flippant and isolating. and it did not at all sound like a statement of support. just something to think about. when it’s phrased in that way, your message could be getting lost in the delivery.

    thanks again for allowing this conversation to be heard.

  10. Pingback: come out come out: and then she said … « The Sweet Bi and Bi

  11. Hey there Jules – just want to say I appreciate you jumping in because you know how much I value your thoughts and insight.

    I want to say I am sorry if I came across as bashing Andrew. I did not mean to do that in any way because even though I don’t agree with him being silent on his beliefs about same sex marriage and sexual identity therapy I still respect him and know that he has and does do some wonderful work. I could be wrong about him and his foundation not being affirming – I formed that impression from small things like his blog having a link to Mark Yarhouse’s organization that specializes in Sexual Identity Therapy and some small things from his book (he does leave us having to guess).

    I know that I can get passionate about this issue – some of the passion comes from having LGBT people in my life that I love so much (my son, you and so many others), but a lot of it comes from being upset because I feel like the church duped me in their teachings about same sex relationships for so long – anyway, my passion probably came across as bashing and I apologize for that and know that I need to watch out for that. (I only brought the Marin Foundation up because I saw a similarity in them and SP not stating their position – not because I thought their purposes were the same or because I wanted to show any disrespect.)

    I understand what you are saying about not wanting the church to have to revolve around some particular label and that makes so much sense. I guess the way I view it is “that is the goal” and I can’t wait for the day when we aren’t having to fight against so much oppression and abuse of LGBT people but right now we aren’t there and so we have to do some things to get us there and that might include christians and groups of christians and churches saying out loud if they are affirming.

    You are not the first LGBT person to tell me they disagree with that idea and Rachel’s friend is not the first person to tell me they want churches to state if they are affirming and believe it is a necessary step as we work for full equality and inclusion for LGBT people. There is obviously some disagreement about this and even though you and I see it differently I still have tremendous love and respect for you.

    Mostly I wanted to say I appreciate the honest and civil push back from you and love that you are that kind of friend to me!
    I know in the end we both want the very same thing!

  12. Highlighting Trans in LGBTQA brings this conversation to a totally different level for me, which is unfortunate and I think Mark touched on this earlier.

    Easter of 09 I went to the SP Easter Sunrise Gathering. Afterward, I stopped by Spirit of the Lakes to see what it was like. It’s one of the LGBTQA Churches in town. During communion I was served and prayed for by a Trans women that was old enough to be my father. That was the first time, to my knowledge, that I had looked in the eyes of a Trans person. Wrapping my head around the previous statement was challenging for me to say the least. After attended there for a while, She and I became friends. Now when I visit that community, she is one of the ones I have to make sure and get a hug from. Hugging for me is like receiving a love transfusion no matter who it is and I can easily identify the polite ones, they leave me wanting. Barbs hugs are anything but polite.

    All that to say that for straight Christian folks. Same Sex monogamous couples are a stretch, but they can figure out how to replace he/she with he/he or she/she. Anything beyond that takes digging a little deeper to come to terms with. Even bisexual is hard for some to grasp. Rachel, how many times have you had to explain that being Bi doesn’t mean that you have a female partner on one side of the bed and a male partner on the other side. You don’t have to answer that because I think I know the answer.

    So I think the first step in inclusiveness regardless of how you identify is to show up and start loving others. Not only at the main gatherings but also in the smaller group gatherings so that others get to know who you are and what your struggles are. At SP the smaller groups that I’m involved in is where I continue to find the love and acceptance that I so desperately need.

    anarchistreverand, I hope you have addressed Doug directly with what you posted. Obviously he hurt you and he needs to know that. Also I hope you receive my comments in the context they are given. That being, a gay man that grew up in a small texas town that not only has been oppressed but also the oppressor. I have only ventured into this fight in the public realm recently and the battle still rages deep within between the conservative christian, homophobic bryan and the born again new creation that I am becoming.

    “i shouldn’t have to get my church to be on board with who i am. that’s the point of church”
    I couldn’t agree with you more and there are folks at the porch that are on board with who you are. But I can’t be there for you if I don’t know you, serve with you, struggle with you, be friends with you, love you, and hug you.

    Rachel, SP taking a stand for me means: you, I, and whoever we can gather around us, forming an open group and doing whatever needs to be done next. Yes, we’ve tried this before and I’m so thankful I meet you through that process. Maybe it’s time to try again. One place where I think SP fails is “being a blessing” to our local community. How many porchers show up to feed the hungry every other month? How many porchers show up to do spring or fall cleaning? How many porchers encouraged us to get a LGBTQA group going where nobody showed up? Maybe it’s time for more Porch Allies to take a stand and let LGBTQA folks outside our community know that they are loved.

    Any takers?

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