Finding Jesus at Gay Pride

DSC_0001I’m remembering our time at Gay Pride in Cincinnati this afternoon, and all our amazing volunteers who made the day such a success.  Was it really three whole weeks ago?  It was.

Gay Pride is one of our regular events at LOVEboldly.  We go in hopes of emulating the Jesus we love.  We go to hang out with the folks who are the least likely for church-folks to hang out with, to offer our friendships and love, to show kindness to those who have, perhaps, only been met with God’s anger or condemnation.

I’ve been to more gay pride events than I can count now, but this year was different.  Just two weeks prior to Cincinnati Pride, a man had entered a gay club on Pride night in Orlando and killed 49 precious folks like those we knew we’d be hanging out with.  He wasn’t a Christian, but many have conjectured that his killing rampage was religiously-motivated and, whether right or wrong, many have wondered how conservative Christian theology is much different than that which inspired his actions that horrible night.

Would LGBTQ+ folks even want Christians around at Pride, this year? Or would we just be a reminder of past pain and hurt experienced in religious communities? Would LGBTQ+ folks even want Christians around at Pride, this year? Or would we just be a reminder of past pain and hurt experienced in religious communities? Could we blame them if they were angry, if they lashed out?  Would our presence be healing, or would it just pick at an old scab that was not yet healed, causing deeper scars, more bad blood between us?  Would our hopes of helping bring healing to our divides or just inflict more hurt?

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5 Keys to Faith & Sexuality Dialogues

FullSizeRender_1Several years ago, I began to wonder if the strategies LOVEboldly was employing for hosting dialogue between LGBTQ folks and conservative Christians might work in other contexts too?  I joined a listserv and, before I knew it, had met five strangers who agreed that the LOVEboldly approach, and others hosting sexuality and faith dialogues around the country, could be used as a model for connecting people on all topics across our most sacred divides.  After all, if we could succeed in hosting productive dialogues on sex and faith, what barriers couldn’t we scale together? Together, the six of us presented at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation in October 2015.

One year later, our team has reunited to join the estimated 10,000 folks who have gathered from across the globe to attend the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City.  I’m tickled pink to be in their company again, and to have the opportunity to take LOVEboldly’s work to new audiences.

The six of us represent our own sort of diversity. Our group includes a Mormon, a humanist, an ersatz monk, a progressive evangelical Christian, a Unitarian Universalist, and a Marxist Christian. We are straight, gay and lesbian, female, male and genderfluid.  Over the past year and a half since we all first met over email, we have exchanged hundreds of emails discussing faith and sexuality.  Together, we agreed to each present the “one key thing” we want people to know about dialogues on sacred topics (such as faith and sexuality) in under three minutes.

Now, if you didn’t know, I am verbose.  Distilling eight years worth of work into three minutes provides no room for nuance, examples, story-telling, explanation, or practical ‘boots on the ground’ advice and it really has felt like torture to whittle it down.  Just three minutes.  Just one thing.

Well, I threw a little fit.  And then I rebelled.  So, what I offer you here is, yes, three minutes of material, but five keys I’ve discovered to faith and sexuality dialogues.  Now, after an introduction that nearly surpasses the length of the actual content of what I will offer, here it is in all of its succinct glory.

  1. We often approach sacred conversations for the wrong reason. Listening to, learning from, and serving those with whom we disagree must be our primary goal – even if it sometimes results in our own marginalization. Some might disagree with me, but I think we must enter dialogue not to transform others, but to be open to our own transformation. 
  2. We often approach sacred conversations in the wrong order.  The culturally dominant position, if there is one, must start with being a student rather than a teacher, a servant rather than a leader. We must earn the right to be heard before we speak.  To be a force for healing, we must be willing to apologize, both in word and in action for ways we have individually and communally wronged one another.  
  3. Dialogue can’t work when you’re too triggered.  Dialogue can be destructive for those who are dealing with open wounds from recent or very personal marginalization. It is not helpful for the abused to dialogue with the abuser. A certain level of healing must be attended to before re-engaging ideologies that hurt.
  4. Sacred convictions should not be checked at the door. Once rapport is built and we’ve earned the right to speak, we must share openly and completely honestly with one another.  We cannot lie to each other.  We must honor one another with the truth and accept the truth from one another – even when it hurts.
  5. There is hope. Even across sacred divides, dialogue can and does work. Sacred beliefs need not be sacrificed for the sake of harmony. To the contrary, sacred belief can be the very facilitator of true peace. Dialoguing with honesty and kindness makes us more like the kind of people God means for us to be.  It makes the world more like God means for it to be.  So don’t ever give up on it.

We are so grateful to all who attended and shared their wonderful insights with us at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. For resources pertaining to our presentation, click the links below:

Meet LOVEboldly’s Pastoral Care Director

Hello! My name is Christy Wade, and I am the Pastoral Care Director at LOVEboldly. I just want to take some time to introduce myself and tell you what I do.christy

My official job description is:

The Pastoral Care Director is responsible for providing emotional support and spiritual care to those seeking help and/or services from LOVEboldly, as well as for the LOVEboldly leaders, through healing, reconciling, guiding, and sustaining.  This includes, but is not limited to, prayer support, spiritual formation, discipleship, mediation services, outreach, preaching, teaching, and creating resources.

Essentially, I am here for you!

I’m here to help you:

  • as you journey through the process of reconciling faith and sexual orientation
  • process thoughts and feelings when a friend/family member comes out as LGBTQ
  • find resources (counseling, support groups, etc.) in your specific geographic location
  • grow in your faith journey by providing discipleship and spiritual formation opportunities
  • by praying for you and your needs

If you ever need to connect with me or would like me to pray for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: christy.loveboldly@gmail.com

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.