Recently Jules Kennedy offered an idea for a conference that’s led by and featuring queer people talking about their own experiences. She has updated what’s in the works for the gathering on her blog. Brian Gerald Murphy issued a call for a Queer Theology. Today I’d like to offer an idea as well, but first I want to offer some thoughts on why these ideas and proposals are important.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I keep getting stuck in the same conversations. I’ve been having my energy sapped by people who are more interested in playing it safe and keeping the status quo than they are about living into their own fullness. Are you feeling that way too? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
These conversations are stalling tactics. These conversations are being used by people who want to see things stay the same. They are used to keep us exhausted so that we don’t have the energy to do the real work.
I’ve been realizing how often I don’t say what I’m really thinking. How often I try to soften my words. How often I say, “I think” when in reality I know. I don’t want to do that anymore.
I am tired of asking for permission. I am tired of waiting for approval from the gatekeepers and the ones with power. I am tired of being told to wait a little longer, to “let us deal with this issue first”, to respect the people who are having trouble (without ever actually calling on those people to change).
I refuse to apologize or to keep silent. I refuse to wait until the time is right (right for whom?). I refuse to play it safe, to tread lightly, to play the game.
Stop trying to slow things down. Stop trying to fight. You don’t have to participate. If you don’t want to follow, then at least get out of the way.
The world needs us to step up and speak. The world needs to hear our voices (even though they may not know it yet).
I am tired of being told by people that I base too much of my identity on my sexuality or my gender identity. I am tired of being told by people that they just want to see me as a whole person when in reality they want me to be silent about a large part of who I am.
The truth is that my life experiences, my theology, my thinking is shaped by my gender identity. It’s not all that I am, but it definitely plays a huge part. If you really want to know me and be in relationship with me, then you need to talk about that as well.
I am no longer going to fight with people who are more interested in keeping the status quo than they are in changing the world. I am no longer going to fight with people who are more interested in keeping their power and their privilege than they are about fighting for justice. I am going to let them keep doing what they are doing but I am not going to participate. I will, however, actively work against anyone who seeks to marginalize or harm my community.
Instead I am going to start living into a new world. I’m going to start doing the real work. I’m going to spend my energy creating the structures that need to exist instead of fighting the ones that don’t.
People will either join in or they’ll be left behind. The world is changing. The church is changing. You can either be a part of the change or you can get left behind. The way we’ve been doing things isn’t working anymore. We’ve been moving too slow. We’ve been making too many excuses. We’ve been protecting the privileged and the powerful at the expense of those who are most vulnerable.
We need to move on. Create something amazing. Create something so beautiful that people who are tired of the same old same old will join our cause.
Do you want to be a part of this new world? Do you want to have energy for the real work instead of getting tied up in the same old conversations? Do you want to build something awesome?
Than let’s do it. Let’s do it now. No more waiting. No more weighing our options. It’s time to take a leap of faith and do it. It’s time to be radically inclusive. It’s time to start taking care of one another. It’s time to put politics aside and get work done.
God is calling us to something bigger than what we’ve been doing and I believe that if we step out the path will appear.
I believe that we can be full human beings; that our sexualities and our gender identities are important and beautiful and have something to say to the church and the world. I believe that my queerness isn’t a liability but a powerful expression of God’s creativity.
I am not ashamed of being a transgender man. I am not ashamed of being queer, and I will also call out oppression. Telling me that naming my oppression is “claiming victimhood” is yet another stalling and derailing tactic.
What is your dream for the community in which you live? What do you wish you could be doing if only you weren’t facing resistance from people? Those are the things you should be doing.
Where are people telling you to slow down, to think things through? Those are the areas in which you should be charging ahead.
If we want to see a church where queer people are not only welcomed but integral to the life and theology of the church then we need to build it. We need to withdraw our support from churches that are dragging their feet and create something new.
If we want to see conferences where there is actual diversity, where people who have a stake in the issues being discussed get to have the microphone then we need to create those conferences and withdraw our support from conferences that don’t do these things.
If we want to see resources that actually represent the truth of our lives then we need to create them and stop passing around resources that do more harm then good.
Does this sound extreme? Good. For too long we have been satisfied with things that are okay instead of things that are excellent. We have been satisfied with the crumbs off the table. We have been satisfied to be invited, but not to speak. We have been happy to be welcomed but not affirmed. We have been content to allow other people to talk about us instead of speaking for ourselves.
Will this cost you something? If you have power and privilege it might, but like Tracy Turnblad says in “Hairspray”, “If my friends can’t dance on television then I don’t want to either!” If you feel the same way, then what you lose will be so much less then what you gain.
I’m not going to fight for a place at the table, I’m going to find my own table and invite others to join me.
The church is becoming irrelevant. We’re concerned about our buildings and our denominations. We’re concerned about losing members. We’re concerned with our book deals and speaking gigs. We’re concerned about what will happen if we welcome women and queer folks and people of color. We’re concerned about not losing donations. We’re concerned about making sure that we still have jobs in the church world. We’re concerned with preaching to the choir while the world burns down around us.
This vision of the church isn’t working for me anymore. Fighting the church to change isn’t working for me anymore. It’s time to start something new.
I see a world where small groups of people are committed to their communities both in cities and in rural areas. Where churches are known for the good that they do instead of the fights that they are having. I see a world where we spend less money on buildings and salaries and more money investing in local communities, empowering people to be entrepreneurs and to take charge of their own lives. I see churches where queerness is not just accepted but celebrated.
Are you with me? Do you want to get your community on fire wherever it is that you live? We can support one another across the miles in doing the hard work of changing the world. But we’ve got to stop getting involved in these losing battles. We’ve got to put our energy into the things that really matter. We’ve got to share our truth with the world honestly and without apology.
To that end I am calling for a synchroblog on Wednesday August 10, 2011. On that day I want people to blog about what queer theology means to them. I want you to share your story of how reading the Bible queerly has changed your life. I want you to talk about how your sexuality or your gender identity has brought you deeper into relationship with God. If you’re straight and interested in solidarity I want you to share how being in relationship with queer people has deepened your faith and spiritual practice.
This is part of the Santuary Collective Empowerment Project.
This synchroblog is NOT ABOUT apologetics. This isn’t about taking on the clobber passages or explaining why it’s okay to be queer. It’s time to move past those conversations. This day is also not taking the place of the conference Jules is calling for. This is a day, though, that will hopefully show people what that conference can look like. This day will give a hint of the beautiful stories that can be shared; of the amazing ways that queer folks read and delve into the Scriptures.
Will you participate? If so, when you’ve written your post, leave a comment with your name and a link to the post in the comments. On that Wednesday the 10th I’ll compile a post with the entire synchroblog. Here are a number of banners that you can put on your blog if you are participating. Please spread this around to folks you think might want to participate. We need your voice.