I have just returned from standing as an alley for the LGBT community on the 22 annual National Coming Out Day. I’m wearing a rainbow bracelet and ribbon affirming with pride the sexual diversity among us.
Yet, in my heart I’m carrying profound sadness. Sadness that as much as I want to proclaim that the prejudice and mean-spirited judgment of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) is a non-issue on today’s campus, it is increasing in volume. There has been a recent occurrence of six student suicides around the country relating to the pressures and persecutions of being gay as well as increasing statements of judgment and bullying. These are only the reported incidents. We have a long way to go for the acceptance of the LGBT community among us.
At St. Andrew’s we have a long standing value of welcoming all and affirming all, no matter the race, orientation, social class, or ethnicity. We affirm in our St. Andrew’s constitution that we are RIC – Reconciling In Christ. With this affirmation, we acknowledge that we are an inclusive community. We believe that Christ calls us to reconciliation and wholeness. “All this is from God who reconciled us through Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
To be Reconciling in Christ means that we speak out against the bullying hate speech against LGBT people. And it means we stand with others regardless of the sexual orientation, gender identity or that of the children, siblings, or friends. This means that we especially communicate that all are welcome among us. This means that we are challenged by the Gospel to be agents of healing within our society. This means that we affirm with the apostle Paul that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28).
This also means it is important to say “no” to the judgmental voices of irrational fear. It is important to say “no” to the shunning of LGBT people. It is important to say “no” to the hate speech. It is important to say “no” to the bullying and harassment.
I long for our voices of kindness to be louder than the voices of hate. We know that the love of our Lord Jesus Christ is for the entire world. We cry “Lord have mercy” longing for loving-kindness, love, mercy, and justice for all who know the pain and prejudice of fear and ignorance. We cry “Lord have mercy” longing for all to know that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities share the worth that comes from being a unique individual created by God.
So, on this National Day of Coming Out, as an LGBT alley, I stand to affirm my sisters and brothers of all orientations and identities and long for loving-kindness to pour into and out of all of us. “Lord have mercy.”