I recently had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery here in Washington, DC and see the Hide/Seek exhibit. Many of the artists are a part of American culture such as Andy Warhol and Langston Hughes. What is unique about this exhibit is that it highlights what much of America and the world for that matter has tried to forget or at least not think about, the fact that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) are just as much a part of society as any other group. It also highlights the struggle that LGBT have had in trying to find their own place. In many of the pieces you find the artists searching for a way to express there own identity in a culture that has openly and proudly rejected them. What is most amazing to me in all this that even in the face of immense oppression they found ways to show they still exist and they will not conform to what society says they should be. It is as if they were saying believe what you will but let me live my life in accordance with my own identity.
Sadly almost a hundred years after some of these artists were struggling to live authentic lives we are still in the same struggle. There are still those screaming from the street corners and the rooftops that LGBT people are less than, screaming that LGBT people do not belong, screaming that LGBT people should not be given the chance to live their lives. I was recently told that I should not go around talking about the Evangelical Christian right that seems to have a need to rid the world of homosexuality (as if such a thing is possible). I was told that even if I disagree that I have to allow them to have their beliefs. Well of course, I live in the United States and here you are allowed to believe pretty much whatever you want as long as it is not cause harm to yourself or others and there are a great many court cases talking about exactly how harm is defined. To that I say harm is being done and so I am going to speak out against that which I believe the false teaching shrouded as Biblical teachings. As someone seeking to be a pastor it is my duty to speak against this claim that LGBT people are somehow inferior because of their sexual orientation. I am going to stand up and scream from the rooftops and street corners just as loud that LGBT people are fully equal and fully loved by God as they are created. As long as there is voice seeking to keep LGBT people in a box, to keep them a second class people I will continue to speak out.
This whole issues boils down to the arrogant notion of exclusive moral understanding. It is a notion that says I do not care what your morals say about homosexuality because my morals say it is evil or unnatural. This arrogance can be seen beyond Christianity, though Christianity in the Western world seems the loudest voice. It is universal among those who wish to maintain a certain status quo on sexuality. This voice says regardless of what you believe you are wrong and my understanding of sexuality is the only correct one so conform to heterosexual culture. It says whether you ascribe to my views or not you will live by them because it is the way I believe the world should be.
What is hardest about this for me is it is so exclusionary. It leaves no room for dialogue and discussion . It allows no room for those who disagree to live out lives alongside those who disagree and forces them to the margins and into the shadows.
How many more generations of people are we going to force to live in the shadows of society? How many more generations are we going to sit on the sidelines watching a group of people being marginalized and viewed as less than? I believe we are at a unique point in history in which we can learn to live with and among those we disagree with. I believe conflict is part of human nature but I do not believe we have to live in conflict eternally. In my own beliefs it comes back to the scriptures. In John 20 when Jesus first appears to the disciples after the resurrection he speaks these words “peace be with you”. Jesus is inviting us to live in peace, leaving behind those mistakes of the past and moving forward to a new future. Come live in the peace and with all of God's beloved creation.