queer

To My Christian Community Regarding the Death of Leelah Alcorn.

This was orginally posted to my Tumblr (butwhyindigo.tumblr.com)

I am a member of the Christian community here on Tumblr, and I am grateful for that. As a young queer person, I am so grateful to be apart of this community, and to feel loved and accepted by people who share my faith, when all too often I have felt cast out from a community that I grew up knowing and loving. Thank you, for loving me.

I’ve seen many of my Christian family (here on Tumblr) struggle to comprehend the death of Leelah Alcorn. I’ve also seen many of us who aren’t understanding how to love this young woman, despite her actions, and despite the fact that who she is fundamentally defies many of the things you may believe to be true.

If you feel yourself thinking or feeling this way, I want you to remember and understand a few things:

1. We love and serve a benevolent God.
Our God loves Leelah, as she is, as he created her. She did not choose the body she was born into. Her gender identity’s disagreement with her biological sex does not negate God’s love for her. Christ calls upon us to love one another, saying “I give unto you a new commandment, that you love one another as I first loved you (John 13:34).” God loves you, and it is our calling as Christians to be loving to the rest of God’s creation. 

2. We have been called to love our neighbor. 
There are no standards for who your neighbor is. You are to love the people around you. The queer people, people of color, addicted people, abandoned people, people of different theological philosophies, and so on. We are to be the sheep. We are to clothe the naked, care for the ill, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, and protect the weak. That is our calling. We have not been called to judge those we find to be lacking. Jesus didn’t hang out with the pharisees or the high priests. He comforted the woman at the well, and kicked it with a bunch of poor blue collar guys. He held lepers, and befriended tax collectors. Our place is to love, serve, and protect those who cannot do for themselves.

3. Tolerance is not enough. 
Christ did not tolerate others. He accepted them. We are Christians, and that means “little Christ,” so it’s about time we followed his lead. Let down your walls, put down your sword, and open you arms, open your heart. This is not a time to remain neutral. If you stand, arms crossed, holding the sword, but do not strike, you are tolerating what is around you. Notice how unapproachable that image is. Drop your sword, fall to your knees, and open your arms. Be ready to hold the hurting, and mend the broken hearted.

4. You can not conceptualize God’s image.
We have been told for years that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are made in his workmanship, and he has put himself into creating us. Leelah was fearfully and wonderfully made, just as you were. She was created in the image of the loving, benevolent, and sovereign God you were. As human beings, we cannot rationalize or conceptualize what God’s image is. We’ll know someday, but as for now, we have no idea. He makes each of us, and the gender identity of a person does not inherently determine that they are turning from what God has created. Sex and gender are so vastly different, and unrelated. Do not negate this beautiful girl because she found herself to be different from the presentation God created. Your body is a vessel. Believe in the soul. Believe in the mind. Understand where worth is placed. Your body is a temple, and you shall adorn it as you see fit. Other than that, it holds little meaning.

The death of this young woman is tragic. She was seventeen. She grew up in a circumstance that made it impossible for her to feel the unconditional love of God, from people who claimed to be Christians. The two people on this earth who were supposed to love and protect her unconditionally could not bring themselves to accept their daughter. They have chosen to bury a son rather than love their daughter, their child.

It is not easy to grow up queer in a Christian community, regardless of how accepting the people around you may be. You question every move, every choice. You learn to fear certain conversations, and people. There are passages of the Bible I still don’t dare comb through, for fear of what they may reveal. I am aware that my God loves me, and created me as I am with great purpose, but on the days when the rain falls hard, and the boat rocks, I must flail and struggle to see Christ walking out across the water to me.

Brothers and sisters, please, there is so much hurt, and so much pain. We do so much more damage than we could ever imagine. Put down your sword. Open your arms. There are so many people who need your love, so may who have heavy hearts and do not know where they fit in this community. Remind them that they belong here with you. Love them, because I guarantee that most days, they struggle to love themselves let alone believe that God could ever love them.

God is love, and so are we. Show that to the blind. Be the light for the stumbling. That is what you are called to do.

“In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, LOVE.” -Moravian Credo  

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Coming Out

I am gay.

I have, by far, the most saccharine sweet coming out story. I come from a very accepting (and relatively knowing) family. I grew up in a small town that values standing by your people over traditional ideals. It wasn’t hard for me to be out and at home after I left for college.

I went away to school, came home maybe a month later, looked at my parents over dinner one weekend and said “Guys, I have to tell you something.” They gave me their full attention, and when I told them I was gay, my poppa told me he was proud of me, and my mama told me she knew. They said they loved me, and that was that. They’ve always supported me, and they raised me understanding that they’d love me no matter what.

I started to come out to the people around me after that, some friends from home, members of my high school groups, my grandfather, and my pastor among them. I was met with the same response from all parties. “We love you. We support you. We’ve known.”

My sexuality came as a shock to no one. Maybe I should have been a little indignant about that, but in all honesty, I was just relieved. I was relieved that nothing was going to change because I was gay.

As much as I hear the horror stories about coming out, as much as we hear how awful it is for some members of the community, know that it isn’t like that for everyone. Some small towns are coming around. Some people find love everywhere they turn. I hope this becomes the story for most, as time goes by. I hope that no one has to come out, eventually. But for now, take some solace in the fact that a small town in Ohio is learning, and loving its children all the same.