The other day I was on Twitter and saw a tweet come across my timeline that polled followers’ responses to the following question: “If you are LGBT and your pastor isn’t willing to speak out against homophobia, do you think they value you? Feel free to share why.” And it got me thinking, “do I?”
This is a struggle that LGBT+ Christians have to constantly confront, among others. In a time where the battle against homophobia — both on a social level and religious level — is alive and well (especially in America after its most recent election), do we feel welcomed at a place that doesn’t vocally speak out against the voices that put us down? Do we feel valued by a local community that sits idly by while we get mocked and torn down?
John Backman is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about John in his bio at the end of the piece.
It always stuns me, and it shouldn’t because I’ve seen it so often: the same issue keeps popping up again and again in wildly unrelated contexts. Like this past month, when a lesson I’ve been learning as a spiritual director magically appeared in a story about the Church and LGBTQ+ people.
The lesson has to do with our need to “get somewhere.”
It first came up in my supervision group. (Many spiritual directors meet with a “supervision group”—usually a wiser, more experienced director and a few of us novices—to make sure our work is on track.) I’d been having great sessions with a directee, but they seemed scattered: there was no moving toward a goal, or solving a problem. They weren’t, in other words, “getting anywhere.” And it made me wonder if we were supposed to be getting anywhere.
It was the turn of the millennia and I was lonely.
So begins the story of how I watched my first season of reality TV. I had recently graduated from college and found myself in an apartment with three other guys and a cable subscription. I didn’t yet know these guys and all my college friends had spread themselves across the country.
Thus, I found myself watching MTV’s Real World—which, as I quickly found out, was nothing like any real world I’d ever known. In the first episode, we’re introduced to the “characters” as they arrive at the home where they’ll be staying for that season of the show. It’s here we’re introduced to a young man with a “secret.”
He’s quite intent on telling his housemates that he has a “secret” in spite of the fact not one of them knows him or shows an interest in hearing this secret. Seeing this tactic isn’t advancing his mission, he starts sharing the secret (you guessed it)—he’s gay.