come out come out: and then she said …

Preface: this post is a part of an ongoing set of posts that is an email exchange between a friend and me. See here and here for previous posts and comments. I am intentionally not jumping into the conversation in the comments (just yet), but am glad to have my friend in the mix now, and I am deeply listening to what each of you has offered. Thank you SO much for lending your voice to the conversation.

My reply:

I want you to know how long I have thought about your email–it seems not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. You have challenged me, provoked me—in a good way. Thank you—truly.
[editors note: it took me WEEKS to reply: life, dad’s passing, etc.]
I think you are right—saying nothing is/can be dangerous. But, so is saying something. Definitive statements draw circles, who is in, who is out. I just can’t be the one drawing those circles for the whole Body of Christ.
 
I don’t assume that the ones who say nothing are the same ones who are persecuting. I choose to believe they are either uncertain, or are working it out between them and their God. Either way I feel comitted to showing up in the way of Jesus as much as I can imagine and let God work the details out.
 
The other piece that I keep coming back to is that Solomon’s Porch needs to take a stand. Solomon’s Porch is not a one single voice—its a cacophony of voices, interested in a number of things, people, places and issues. I know there are things in the community that some care deeply about, that I frankly do not either agree with or care about. But, you bet I care about those people connected to those thoughts, ideas, and passions.
 
Lastly, I am tired of needing to be “that” voice every time. Sometimes, I just want to be Rachel, the kick ass hostess. I am tired of being an issue in every place I go in life. Perhaps that is being a crappy queer.
 
I so respect what you wrote, obviously I have wrestled with it for weeks. I am grateful for your words more than I can express in this short email. Much love.

My friend responded to this email, which I will post next. My reply to my friends email is still in process, and when I finish it I will post it here. As you may be able to tell, I have really enjoyed the conversation and in posting this I am coming clean about my wrestling with this idea/topic. For the last few years I have volunteered with an organization called Integrity USA. They are an advocacy organization dedicated to inclusion and equal rights of LGBT people in the Episcopal Church. I have recently resigned from my work with them, some of it (not all) due to my change in thinking/belief about advocacy, civil dialog, and about what living in the way of Jesus looks like for me. YOU are also helping me work this out. So, thank you. Truly.

to be continued …

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9 thoughts on “come out come out: and then she said …

  1. I can’t help but snicker that you answered as I basically reacted as well. 🙂 This is one thing I have been hammering out myself, as you know, since C21 and then able to go further in that. Thank you for sharing this.

    Jules

  2. I just had a tiny little epiphany – maybe somehow the ones like you two (Jules and Rachel) are supposed to be crying out what you are crying out in order to calm some people down and reign some people in as some people need to hear that message – and people like me and Rachel’s friend are supposed to be crying out what we are crying out in order to spur some people on and get them moving as some people need to hear that message. I don’t often think that opposite messages balance and compliment each other but I know that we all want the very same thing so I am trying to reconcile how we can be thinking so differently.

    Of course there is always the possibility that the reason is that I am a radical, still slightly annoyed, ex-evangelical :>)

  3. I’m really digging this conversation. And curious, if it’s not too fresh to ask, why you left Integrity…because I’m considering leaving TEC. Wondering if the reasons are similar.

  4. Liz, that’s beautiful. Maybe this is a both/and kind of dialogue.

    As a straight ally, I’ll confess I’ve been among the say nothing camp, and am working out for myself – through reading, prayer, and many, many conversations – and many more to come, about what it looks like for me to be a voice of support. And I think that looks different for each of us.

    And, yes, they are tiny steps – calling out the co-worker on the spot who yelled about something being “so gay” and then tried to dismiss it by saying her best friend is gay. Still felt disrespectful and not okay with me. Wearing purple. Advocating for a queer friend in ministry who wants to partner with an organization I’m connected with, which previously wouldn’t accept her (a long, hopeful unfolding story to come).

    Small steps, but steps in the right direction I think. And I believe that all of us making intentional steps will make a difference.

  5. I came to this conversation via anarchistreverend’s blog, which I follow. Much of what I’m about to say has been expressed by him already, and also by Liz, but I thought I’d add my own voice. (Thank you, by the way, for hosting this conversation on your blog, Rachel, and thanks to all the members of the Porch community who are receiving this so thoughtfully.)

    If Solomon’s Porch existed in a vacuum–where no bigotry, no oppression, no prejudice, no discrimination, etc etc existed in the larger world–then I think its position of “all are welcome” would be good enough. I checked out the Who We Are section of the website as one of the commenters suggested, and also being from Minneapolis, I’m aware of the Porch as a progressive, artistic, and overall lovely community. It’s clear that the Porch wants everyone to feel welcome, and sounds like for most of the queer folks who are members there, it seems like a legitimately safe place to be.

    But of course Solomon’s Porch does not exist in a vacuum, and all kinds of -isms are rampant in our world, homophobia obviously being one of them (although apparently not lexically!). My question is this: does Solomon’s Porch exist only to be the church for its insular community, or does it also wish to be a Church for the larger world? Does it want to have a public face, or are its positions only available to the people who attend church there? And perhaps more broadly: is the Church/are Christians called to change the world? And more importantly, how?

    Recently I re-read the gospel of Luke, and I was *shocked* to re-remember just how RADICAL Jesus is. He is constantly going against the grain of (Roman, pharisaic) society–standing for the oppressed, etc–and he is PUBLIC about it. Explicitly so. I guess he never issued a hard-copy, political statement, but his followers sure did: that’s how we have the Gospels. So what does that mean for contemporary followers of Jesus? Is it enough to support only the queer people who come through the doors of our congregations? But what about those who never find the Porch?

    And does the Porch have a responsibility to be a leader in the progressive evangelical world in not only welcoming queer people into the “pews”, but actually *saying* something about it too? How else are the rest of us, outside your community, supposed to know what “welcoming everyone” means? Doesn’t almost every Christian church use those same words?

    If we lived in a perfect world we wouldn’t need flags or rainbows or parades. Perhaps the community in the Porch doesn’t need to have a “Statement on LGBTQ Issues” — but I would argue that it desperately needs to be Public and Explicit about its position on queer folks. There is power in your church, and staying publicly silent IS making a statement. The Porch community may not need it, but queer people who live outside your community do.

    Thanks for listening. I am trying to push back on you all a little bit, but I hope I’m being respectful, as well. I really appreciate the willingness to listen and dialogue, and am eager to continue the conversation.

  6. I have been watching and once again on my phone. I will put this thought out there and develop it more later. The church is the people. We gather together to be confessors to one another. I heard over the weekend by a great postmodern theologian who said that justice IS just us. I’ll develop on this later. 🙂

    Blessings.

    Jules

  7. Pingback: come out come out: then they said … « The Sweet Bi and Bi

  8. So on the newest post I think some responses go where I’m going. However, I’ll state it here. So I ended that I heard from a postmodern theologian that he said, “Justice IS just us”. This alone states where I feel many LGBT people are at. It is the people who execute the justice, it isn’t the full gathering. The gathering is for people to come together and make communal agreements. For SP or any gathering put something above their door they stop a very much needed part of justice. An open invitation must include all the confessors, LGBT, race, liberal, conservative, ect. We scream at those fundamentalist (although not all are this) that they should bring down their “gay is a sin and your not welcome” sign, but here is a question that must be answered. What of those who are on a journey, that are truly wrestling with this issue? Going to a gathering that has “COME ONE AND ALL QUEER LOVING PEOPLE” isn’t going to make them feel safe to question. We ALL deserve a place to question. We ALL deserve a place to feel safe. And what we all truly need to come to see that we must make the table open for all to question and be in community.

    Justice is just us. We each make justice happen every day. We fight the battles of exclusion, we fight against hate and we fight for those who are hurting. Justice begins when two very different come into a space and challenge each other outside their norm. I don’t think gatherings that don’t put up some statement about LGBT are hurting anyone, one way or the other, but I think what they are doing is making room at the table for all to make justice happen.

    I would also point to one other thing, one marker for many of us that are apart of the conversation or EC is that we grew tired of politics being preached from the pulpit. I wonder if some have decided that they don’t want politics that don’t go with their own preached from the pulpit. For myself, that is how some, not this e-mail exchange, does come off. For myself, I think it only lays lines in the sand further and only making the culture wars deeper.

    I hope this all made sense. I’m tired from my day at work and soon have to go to class. So I’m sorry if this doesn’t come across well or not fully explained. 😛

    Much love!

    Jules

  9. Jules (and others),

    Thanks for your reply.

    One thing I’m hearing in this discussing about SP, which I really appreciate, is the willingness of the participants in the SP community to try to legitimately erase the social “barriers” that exist between the individual members there. It sounds like it really works for the people who stay and engage in the community, and that is truly no small feat. I’m sure it takes a lot of work.

    Also, I’m aware that I’m entering this conversation as someone who doesn’t attend the porch, and I really appreciate all of y’alls willingness to let me interrogate a little bit. I’m not trying to ignore the plant in my eye, and please know that you can call me out if I’m being too disrespectful. So thank you, again.

    I do partially disagree with the assertion that Justice is Just Us. On the one hand, YES — each of us has the responsibility in our everyday lives to live out justice, to treat each person as an individual, to try to love each person we encounter as we imagine Jesus would. This is certainly where I fall short ALL the freaking time. But: I don’t think working towards justice in interpersonal relationships is enough.

    Maybe a fundamental difference between us is the belief that a group of people can change systemic injustices. Or perhaps we different on the conclusion of where injustice resides: whether it is in social structures, in interpersonal relationships, or both. I think it exists both in social structures AND in interpersonal relationships. And if you agree with me, then I really challenge you to think about whether or not SP is living up to its full calling to turn systemic injustice upside down–the way Jesus did. Jesus didn’t just heal individual people–he talked about a KIN-dom where right relationship was widespread and all-encompassing.

    So I think it is a missed opportunity for as radical a community as S.P. NOT to make its specifically queer-welcoming identity known. It is a missed opportunity that people outside the SP community don’t KNOW just HOW welcomed they might be there. Imagine the change SP could be making, in the EC movement and beyond it, if it took that stand.

    You mentioned that everyone deserves a place to question, and I think Kati (a commenter on a more recent post) said that she might never have had her heart and mind changed, had she not be in a community that was gentle with her. (I’m paraphrasing). This IS important, and I’m so glad that SP was able to provide that space for her. But, on the flip side of that, what about the people who don’t join the community because they don’t feel fully embraced, fully welcomed, fully celebrated in all of who they are? Maybe not Rachel. But perhaps people like AnarchistReverend. Perhaps people like me. So then what?

    I’m not suggesting it has to be a flag or a big fat sign, but seriously. As an outsider who had NO idea what the community was like, if what everyone here is saying is true, it’s time for Solomon’s Porch to come out of the closet.

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