Heteros please read, too. 🙂
This has been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready.
As much as you know I resist labels, I have noticed something about you, my gay, lesbian and transgendered friends. With no exceptions I can think of right now, you have a unique boldness that I love and need in my life. When I witness it, I want to be more honest with myself, take risks that matter, and not waste a moment of my love and life.
Maybe boldness isn’t the right word. Because in some cases, society has not given you a choice. But whether you’ve felt strong or not, you’ve decided to survive and thrive and to me that looks like courage.
Here’s the thing: I love people who know their uniqueness, who have come to trust it and live that uniqueness fully. I consistently experience this with you.
You have taught me about an artist’s freedom. Just write it down, sing it your own way, paint it passionate. Art is supposed to stretch us, and true humans are intended to feel it all. You know yourselves the way only those who have come to an edge can.
Many straight people have never been confronted with the question of how our true, free selves look. Lots of us haven’t done the work you have.
You have stories of brave risk. One friend told me in his pre-out life he held intense feelings of protection for his family– how could he trouble his family with who he really was? How could he cause pain to his friends by coming out? And he held this for years.
By pure chance, in many regards I am a person of privilege in my particular society– caucasian, male, straight, able-bodied, middle-class, middle-aged; I may never feel the weight of risk that you have. I may never have to place my physical safety, my job, my sense of livelihood and reputation on the line for merely being who I am.
You have. I know you have.
And though we all have unique and powerful things in our identity that ask to be noticed– top of the list for me has been the stigma of divorce, mental illness, and an artist’s lifestyle– sexual orientation is, at the moment, the hottest button I can think of.
As a result of coming out, it seems to me you are attuned to integrity. Similar to my friends in recovery, you have a strong B.S. Meter for both yourself and others. Many straight people are at a disadvantage here; some of us have not yet grown to be honest with ourselves. We rarely consider what is at stake in living honestly and fully because we just haven’t had occasion.
As you know, I am all about “world-making” when I teach about music and liturgy– that what we enact as a community is what we create for the whole world. I am so happy that Sam was baptized in a church where families of all combinations were present, that his earliest years were surrounded by both gay and straight couples, differently-abled bodies, folks from all ages and social status sharing pews with their arms around each other. This is the world we wanted our fresh, new baby to know is real and good.
Trish and I figured this out last year: at ten years old, Sam has been to more same-gender weddings than straight ones.
That’s just to say the world Trish and I offer the next generation is one where you are among the most brilliant loves. Not in spite of your sexuality, because of. We believe one of our greatest purposes as parents is to seed the world with someone who honors the beauty of you and all who live out their uniqueness. This ten-year-old does not see you as a them. And he will tell his friends.
Whatever a person’s story, those who live out their uniqueness are Christ emerging in the world.
So where can straight people sign up to be gay for a day?
Or have a mental illness? Or be in recovery from addiction? To, in whatever way required, come to the edge of themselves? Because whenever and however you do that, you come alive, and as Howard Thurman said, above all the world needs people that are alive. The alternative is unspeakably tragic for all.
What if all people had the occasion to cultivate a deep, centered clarity about who we are? To not waste time hiding, padding what’s true, or waiting for others to get comfortable with the truth before it’s revealed?
We’d understand something stupidly simple– that we all have brave stories, breakthrough seasons, and have hearts that function best open wide.
God. Thank you.
It’s ridiculous that so many do not recognize you as the Christ among us, the Buddha awakening. [Deep breath.] At the risk of opening a can here at the closing, I’m sorry the world is so damn slow. I’m ashamed that the church has fought against you. I’m exasperated at the fear some still feel when they see you.
Weary heros of humanity, thank you for choosing to survive and thrive.
I am thinking especially of you today, and celebrating you:
H & J
M & M
B & S
D & R
H & J
M & S
C & S
C & M
E & partner
K & K
A with D