Many years ago, I didn’t know anyone who was part of the LGBT community…at least I didn’t think I did. Not willingly, anyway. There were those who were “different”…but they weren’t part of my group (or any group, really).
I was pretty sure I knew what the proper response was…and it was to love the sinner but hate the sin.
And then I began to get acquainted…and my preconceptions began to be turned upside down. The folks I saw flagrantly displaying their sexuality in various parades were no more typical of many members of the LGBT community than Westboro Baptist is of Christianity.
But even as I began to get acquainted with folks because of my involvement in theatre, I still wasn’t sure about accepting their “lifestyle”…until I began to understand that their “lifestyle” was much like mine, except for the sex of the one they loved. They went grocery shopping…they went to plays and concerts…they played with their nieces and nephews (and in some situations, their kids)…they (at least some of them) went to church…
And I began to wonder.
If God said “It is not good for human beings to be alone”…and if science was beginning to show that sexual orientation was not a choice in most situations…then how could I not allow them to have someone to share their lives with?
Then it got even more personal. My youngest brother called me with a couple of things he needed to let me know…one of them was that he was gay. Without even thinking, my immediate response was, “So…you’re still my brother.” And I realized that along with him I had begun a new journey…trying to understand these issues of sexual orientation. When he found someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, I was thrilled. He was happier than I had seen him in years…true to himself.
But the journey wasn’t over. It was just beginning! I became more sympathetic to some cousins who had been dealing with issues of sexual orientation…and then my husband challenged me even more when he came out as bisexual. Wow! Lots of issues of sexual orientation to deal with!
And now we have a young family member who is dealing with issues of gender identity.
My eyes have been opened on this journey. When I hear some of the comments that are made to and about individuals I love…and see the many ways members of the LGBT community are seen as “less than”…I have to be an ally.
Being an ally doesn’t mean that I’m trying to make everyone else believe the way I do. Nor does it mean that I’m wanting somehow to place your loved ones in danger. It doesn’t mean that everything revolves around sex.
It does mean that I want to support my loved ones and their friends in the same way you want to support your loved ones and their friends. I want them to be accepted as human beings with gifts and talents they can share with all of us. I want them to feel safe…at work…at church…in school. I want them to be able to share their lives with someone they love…and, if they choose, to be able to have a family. I want them to be able to live fully and completely.
I didn’t start out wanting to be an ally…but now, in the spirit of Martin Luther, “…to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”