My kids like to say that everything is gay. These video game characters are gay. These TV characters are gay. The plants outside are gay. Our dog is gay.
One time I asked my daughter why everything had to be gay. She looked at me, and asked me if I was serious. That NOTHING is gay. That nearly every coupling is straight and geared toward straightness. That most of the whole history of pop culture has been pushing the idea that men and women are born into specific bodies and that they can only find attraction in wholly straight and cisgender pairings. Transgender characters don’t exist. Gay and lesbian couples don’t exist. Asexual people don’t exist. There is no rainbow, just two colors – pink and blue, and heaven help you if you think otherwise.
To find LGBTQ role models, my kids have to imagine them. They find representation when they can and when they can’t, they find it anyway. They are certain of their existence, so they find their community however they can.
For the past three days, the United Methodist Church has been meeting to determine the future of LGBTQ people in the church. The language of the Book of Discipline bars LGBTQ people from serving as leaders and ministers in the denomination and from LGBTQ people from being married in a UMC church or by UMC ministers. It says, as so many churches do, that LGBTQ people are welcome to come listen, but not to have their love celebrated and certainly not to lead. There should be no queer representation in the UMC.
Yesterday the delegates voted against the plan that would change this. It was a plan that offered the bare minimum to LGBTQ members while still allowing those who wanted to practice homophobia to continue to do so. But even that was intolerable to the majority.
For many, this was the final straw. For both LGBTQ people and those who love them, this was the event that caused the cauldron of pain to boil over, and many churches will see empty pews next Sunday. The desired erasure of LGBTQ people will be be accomplished, at least for some. And the blood of LGBTQ people will be on the hands of those who have chosen their own comfort over the well-being of the marginalized and the oppressed.
The LGBTQ community will not be erased. Just as my kids choose to see representation where it is so often missing, LGBTQ members of the UMC will claim their place at the table. They will declare that the Church is gay. That the Church is trans. That the Church is lesbian. That the Church is queer. And they will be right.
LGBTQ people will continue to serve in the UMC and in ALL Christian churches around the globe. They will lead you in singing. They will lead you in the reading of the Scripture. They will lead you in prayer. They will lead congregations.
They will be the hands and feet of Jesus – to those who accept them, but also to those who do not.
They will bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted – the broken hearts of the LGBTQ people, but also the hearts that are too broken to see the value of LGBTQ people.
They will be be a light in darkness – to their LGBTQ siblings who need to better be able see their own worth, but also to those who need their own bigotry exposed so more love can flow in.
They will bring their joys, their sorrows, their love, their resilience, their queerness and they will strengthen the the Body of Christ by being exactly as they were created. Beloved of God.