Gay teen suicide has become a bit of a buzz word these days. I've been moved by videos popping up on Facebook and Twitter by celebs- gay and straight- reaching out to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, questioning) youth with the message "It will get better, I promise." It's an attempt at a ray of light, even a pinpoint of light, to youth who might be in a very dark place as they struggle with feelings, bullying, acceptance from others and even acceptance of themselves.
One group, The Trevor Project, is a resource for LGBTQ youth to reach out to if they are in a situation where they feel there is no way out. I spent a good amount of time on that website, reading about the project and the film that inspired it. The Trevor Project also encourages people who aren't L or G or B or T or Q- but who are allies- to be involved and supportive.
I support The Trevor Project. I'm an ally.
Months ago, Cyndi Lauper launched the Give A Damn Campaign. To "Give A Damn" means to be a straight person who supports equality for the LGBTQ community. It's a campaign to bridge the gap between straight and gay - an alliance, a co-existence, a statement of being on the same side.
I give a damn.
Yesterday, I saw a few other groups and events pop up on Facebook that appeared to be supporting these ideas. Offering hope and also an opportunity to stand up together. But one thing kept stinging me. I would visit a group page on Facebook or read a blog or read a Tweet that was a good and positive attempt at reaching out to the at risk community. And I was all for it. But then... there would be some sort of line like "we know you can't reach out to the grown ups around you or the Christians around you."
I understand the sentiment. Too many LGBTQ youth have turned to a trusted adult to come out or express concerns and been strongly rejected and bashed. Kids being kicked out of their homes, being told they will go to hell, being disowned. I get it. I've had gay friends be very deeply hurt by the church where they thought they were loved. I've had gay friends get bashed with Christianity as the driving force behind the hatred. I was raised being taught that homosexuality was a sin, it was wrong, it was disgusting. That never made sense to me when I stopped and started to really think about God. I believe in a loving God. I believe that God has a plan for each of us. I believe that God created each of us in love. I believe that God doesn't make mistakes. I believe that God is the only judge. I believe that God's purpose for my life is to focus on love. I believe that God loves all people- no matter who they are, what they've done, what they look like or what they believe. I believe that God is bigger and mightier than anything I can comprehend and that I don't need to have all the answers but that the few answers I have are enough.
The answer that I have... is love. All encompassing, available to everyone love. The kind of love that isn't dangerously close to hate, the kind of love that doesn't result in jumping to anger, the kind of love that isn't available to only a certain definition or population. I do not believe in "love the sinner, hate the sin." I believe we are all sinners so let's just love everyone and leave the sin determining to God. I believe that applying that statement to homosexuality is wrong because I do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Period. God loves gay people. God created gay people. God doesn't make mistakes. Being gay isn't some great temptation of the devil. Being gay is BEING. It's creation, not choice.
My passion for equality and fairness isn't just about laws and civil justice. My passion is based in my faith. My beliefs are founded in my Christianity. I have a friend- who is gay and came out as an adult and had a bad experience with his church when he came out- who has given me one of the best compliments of my life. He's told me that he wishes every gay youth could have me as a mom or have me as someone in their lives that they could turn to for love and acceptance.
But if the message being sent by these spin off efforts is to not trust Christians or adults... those of us who are Christian and adult and totally accepting and supporting of the LGBTQ community aren't being given the chance to reach out and support and love. I know that there are a lot of Christian communities where it would absolutely not be safe to turn and open up. I know there are a lot of people who say they love God who would not be a resource that would be supportive and loving. I also know that I am deeply troubled to think that a teen in my church might think they can't come to me because the online presence is telling them they can't turn to adults and Christians.
So here's what I think... let's stick with a more positive approach and message. If you are a teen or adult and you are facing some questions that scare you or trouble you about your sexuality- take the risk and talk to someone that you know loves you. If you are thinking about hurting yourself or feel like you simply don't want to exist anymore, reach out to someone. If you stop and think for a moment, I hope that there is someone within your circle that you have heard say things that indicate that they are open-minded and all-loving. If there isn't, turn to resources like The Trevor Project.
And if you are one of those Christian adults who believes that God loves everyone and that being gay isn't a sin and that want to have people know they can turn to you with what they feel is a deep, dark secret- be open and loud about. Shine your Christian light to show that you are different. Don't try and stop yourself from saying something positive about gay people. Don't be afraid to stop people when they use hateful terms in regards to gay people. Stand up for God's children and let your voice be one that reaches through that darkness to someone who needs that pinpoint of light.
You might just save a life.
Liz, awesome post for so many reasons. I look forward to reading what your readers have to say.
Fabulous post. Thanks for talking about this. I don't like that Christianity is used as a reason to cause so much grief. It's not Christian, and it's not right.
I think its these same "God Loving Christians" that if they were around during the civil rights movement that would be lynching the blacks. Black people choose to be black just about as much as GLBT people choose to be GLBT. Its sad to think that the one place that prides itself on being safe is the scariest place in the world for some. Thanks for the post.
I give a damn.
Liz, this is a beautiful post that has me in tears. It is well-written, thoughtful, and just plain kind. You are so "right on".
I give a damn.
I also want to thank you for the kindness and support you have shown me.
P.S. I like this post so much, I'm tweeting it.
Wonderful post -- so eloquent. :-)
Amen and AMEN!
Jesus treated everyone equally. Why in the world do people find it so hard to do the same, huh.
I do give a damn.
I do give a damn.
And I'm a Christian, and I am not about to write about this on my blog.
Just being honest. I'm not where you are in terms of being able to talk about all of this so openly and easily.
I know there are people in my life who read my blog who would treat me differently. I know there are people who would read it and never, ever mention it but it would have a huge impact on our relationship.
My Dad took his own life. Not because of the same issues but it's a horrible thing to live with nonetheless.
I'm not where you are in terms of being able to discuss these issues so openly but maybe because you are able to, I and my circle of influence will follow along soon. Thanks.
Jen, Thank you for sharing so honestly. Here's my hope... yes, someday, things might be different for you and your circle. Until then, I hope that more and more Christians who can speak up do so. Because the more that do, the broader the road gets. I'm sorry you lost your dad to suicide. I'm honored that you've shared your thoughts and some of your story here.
Thank you Liz. My family and religious background is ultra conservative and very anti-gay. As someone who never felt that way or quite understood why they did this post spoke to me on so many levels. #1-Oh the hypocrisy of those Christians who damn gays to an eternal damnation but hide their lives in the "safety" of 4 walls.
#2-Why am I staying silent when my family talks about these things in front of me? I'm 33 years old damn it. What are they going to do, ground me?
#3-I want my children to live in a world where people are people and families are families no matter what their sexual/color/religious makeup. I want them to understand the concept of a family as a group of people who love each other.
Thanks again Liz. I needed this today.
I give a damn. I am an ally.
I have NEVER understood how someone who goes on and on about being Christian, and that they have a Personal relationship with Jesus, or who have been "saved", can HATE so easily? It's hypocritical and an emmense contradiction! The most important line in your post is, "Let's leave judgement to God."
Can you imagine how much anguish the world would be spared if EVERYONE left judgement to God??
And not just on this issue, but everything? That just might be what heaven is!
And YES, I give a damn and I'm an ally!
Fantastic post. So well written.
I give a damn. I am an ally.
Liz, I'm a Catholic, somewhat lapsed, but a Catholic all the same. I do believe that God loves gay people as much as he loves straight people and everyone else on the planet.
My brother is gay. I work with quite a few gay and lesbian people. There are some people in my life who don't agree with my views, but we have chosen to agree to disagree. Just keep your opinions to yourself I tell them.
I hope and pray that someday, it won't matter if someone is gay or not. Someday, we'll all be just people.
Liz, have you ever checked out John Shore's blog? He's a writer who had a conversion experience as an adult. He has a couple of books out. Anyway, he has posted extensively on this topic this week and I think you would like some of his writings.
I've been touched by so many wonderful Facebook posts and blogs this week on this subject. I have friends and family members who are LGBT and I love them with no strings attached. I believe that God loves them the same way, I don't think that God makes mistakes, and therefore if you are born gay, you are NOT a mistake, it is NOT a sin and everyone should just get over themselves. My friends who are gay are just as loving and committed in their relationships as my straight friends. Hell, I'm probably more of a detriment to marriage than my gay friends, having been divorced TWICE. :/
Standing ovation for your last paragraph Liz, especially this bit: "be open and loud"
People like you fill my heart with hope.
Great post and it seems to be making a huge difference!! Good for you!
I'm sitting here reading this at 1:00 a.m. in the E/R waiting room because my mother broke her arm..again.
But I have to share that I'm in tears reading this, because it's the most sincere Liz I think I've ever known, and it warms my heart knowing that other Christians out there can and do love people simply because Jesus commands us to love.
As you know, I'm a woman who endured some hardship because I was born male-bodied. Transitioning from male to female, as a firm believer in Christ, was quite a tough road to hoe. But to my surprise a lot of the insults hurled my way were not from the "unsaved" but from my fellow Christian brothers and sisters who thought they were "loving the sinner but hating the sin."
Knowing you and your love for Christ keeps my faith grounded just as iron sharpens iron, and you propel me to continue in that same, real, living and loving faith that I had when I first put my trust in my First Love.
Again, the Holy Spirit has lifted my spirit tonight because of you, sweet sister in Christ, and I love you.
Awesome Liz! I think people that are true Christ-followers agree with you. Love is what we should be doing, just as Christ loved us!
"I do not believe in "love the sinner, hate the sin." I believe we are all sinners so let's just love everyone and leave the sin determining to God."
Where is the upswell of truly loving Christians fighting back against the haters posing as Christians? They are running Christ's name into the ground. This post is a great rallying cry for like-minded people, but it is SO frustrating that these voices remain a minority in the national "conversation" (more like "polarized diatribe").
Maybe it's not so bad where you live (although I know IN is a very conservative state). But having lived for the past 10 years in the Bible Belt, I still have to laugh acidly when I see a church sign saying "All Welcome."
Perhaps the Allies should print their own t-shirts...you know, "You're here, you're queer, I'm so over it." :)
This is a beautifully written article, you should try to get it published somewhere/anywhere. You have a gift that has made you express yourself in a way that is truly blessed.
Hey...don't have time right now to read all of the comments, but I did see Mellodee's comment made me smile. We need more people in the world like her.
Seriously??? You believe in a God and you think that he HATES anyone? And you think he wants you to go out and spread that hate? Wow...go on with your spiritual self. I don't get those people, and no matter how much they defend their stance will I get it. We must agree to disagree.
I remember Schuyler's funeral...the simple fact that we had to worry about the Westboro Baptist Church group coming to protest his military funeral just BLEW my mind. REALLY? You're coming here in the "name of God" to protest this man who lost his life for your country, which in God we trust? Wow...
Here's my stand...I don't care who you're sleeping with, as long as it's not my husband. If our personalities are compatible, we're friends. If you think I'm funny and snarky and I think you're fun to be around and a good friend...that's it! I don't care who can make your lip tremble!
Good for you for standing up and saying it, Liz! Good for you for giving a damn, being an advocate, and quite possibly, being the person that someone feels they can talk to without facing "Christian value" judgement. I applaud you.
Oh, and PS...my brother's gay, so I am all supportive of gay rights, advocacy, fairness in employment practices, and a whole slew of other things!
This is beautifully put.
I have seen a lot of Christian-bashing along with this. And yes, there are some outspoken Christians who will rail against LGBTQ. But, faith isn't the issue.
Love and acceptance is. And some people are loving and accepting- and some aren't. It's not about what religion someone is. We all don't agree on everything, just b/c we are part of a group called Christians.
And I'm rambling and not sure I make sense, so I'll just say: great post!
That post is compassionate and passionate too. I am a Christian and I wouldn't condemn a person of homosexual persuasion - no I wouldn't judge them. I believe a person becomes what they are sexually through formative experiences and associations. Why should I hurt a condemn a person because of their orientation? What right have I got to do that? But I certainly don't believe that 'God made them that way'. Does that make me judgmental and proud? Hope not.
One day we'll know all the answers
As a heterosexual person, your understanding of what is innate versus what is not concerning being gay (or transgender in my case) is limited to your experience. Every gay person I've met in my life has never said that they one day decided to have certain feelings toward a person, no more than you chose to be heterosexual or have green eyes or blonde hair. In the same way, since as far back as I can remember (around age 4 or 5), I knew that I had a female gender identity. This "feeling" was only inhibited by certain family members and friends who often made horrible, rude comments about gays or androgynous looking people.
God does not make mistakes, but He allows things to happen for a reason. In the same way that the man born blind was born that way so that God's marvelous purpose would be revealed at the moment he met Christ, so too has dealing with being trans been used by God in so many unique ways for His glory. It took me years to finally see that I wasn't "messed up," or broken, but instead what happened to me is all according to His will and His good purpose.
You're right, some day we'll all find out what this all means.
I don't think you sounded judgmental at all. I'm sure you feel like you took a risk sharing your opinion. But if we all share our thoughts with love as the precept, like you did here, then and only then can we bring compassionate Christianity to the world. Thank you for sharing.
(Liz, I hope I didn't take this thread way off topic :) )
I'm glad I came back.
Thank you for responding to my comment Lori. You rightly said that my understanding is limited to my own experience. Everyone has their own path to follow and we should have the courage to follow it with conviction.
I hope I didn't hurt anyone by what I said.
I'm glad you came back, too! I'm also glad you came and shared your thoughts and I don't think you were hurtful or judgemental.
I think what is most important is to stop and say "I cannot judge." Period. Not- I'm going to save you or I'm going to show you the right way or I just know you'll change if I love you now. To me, it starts with being able to realize that we are ALL God's children and we all deserve to be loved. If you can start from that place, the rest of the issues and questions become pretty unimportant, don't they?
Yes, Liz. Very well said.
What a wonderful post, Liz. I'm so glad Mimbles linked it up :) I have some very dear gay friends that I love very much. There is no point in judging, as if anyone could (or would, in many cases) change who they are as a result of criticism. Loved your message.
I love this post! This is pretty much how I feel aboutbeing a Christian and loving everyone, no matter who they are and what they believe and if they are gay or straight. Wil have to share this one.
I will be honest, I was a little worried at first because I didn't know what you were going to say and I didn't want to stop following you if this post was about the opposite of what you said.
Did that make sense?
LOVE THIS POST!!
I agree completely with you and it is so refreshing to read the comments as well.
There was a boy here who recently comitted suicide because of the bullying at his HS because he was gay.
The district wants to change the curriculm to include bullying of the gay poulation. Currently it covers things like being overweight, race, intelligence, etc.
Parents of this district are ANGRY because they do not want the district to say that bullying a gay is wrong. Doesn't that make you sick to your stomach?
I hate that I live in a world with people who hate and teach/condone their kids to hate. There are no words to describe my disappointment.
WHy do "good" people always get the shaft?
wonderful post! What you say reminds me of spreading The Good News.
I was shocked when two college freshman at Rutgers University in NJ took videos of one of the kid's roommates having sex with another boy and put it on you tube. The roommate wound up killing himself.
I am shocked b/c I thought we in the Northeast are supposed to be so "progressive" and I also thought the younger generation had accepted gay people. I am sad to see that I was wrong.
Bravo, Liz! You're the best kind of Christian, and we need more allies like you. YOU are the one, and Christians like you, who will effect change within the Christian community. Those on the outside can yell and scream all they want, but it really won't make too much of a difference. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I'm so proud to have you for a friend and ally.
Great post and I want to go on record as giving a damn, too. The comments here are fascinating. In our still Puritan society, (how can it still be) anything to do with sex is still More Sinful than the culprits of covetousness--which powers our society, or sloth, or gossip, or greed. Or judgementalism---which was warned against so strongly by Jesus. May we all be brave enough to speak up.
From a gay guy:
Thanks to Liz for this great post and thanks to all for the great comments...
You said it, and said it well. Thanks. I'm linking to this post on my FB page.
I give a damn.
What encourages me just as much as Liz's post is all the comments from Christians rising up against the hate that pushes so many to end their life. Even five years ago there was a different voice being heard from the church. Today I'm hearing followers of Christ stand up for love and not allow the name of Jesus to be aligned with a doctrine of hate.
You all make me proud to be a Christian!
I believe that most people who live a gay lifestyle are born with a homosexual orientation -- created and loved by God.
Where I really wrestle is in the idea of actively gay lifestyles. I wonder if perhaps someone who is born gay isn't called by God to a celibate lifestyle -- in the same way that a heterosexual who is not married is called to be celibate.
That's not to say that those who are not married are to lead lives devoid of love and emotional intimacy. And it does raise the whole gay marriage issue.
But as unpopular as it might be, that's where my thinking lies right now.
Amy, I appreciate your honesty about your internal thoughts and struggle.
It sounds like part of your focus is on the sex part of relationships. Being gay isn't just about having sex with someone who is the same gender.
When you think about loving your husband, is sex the first thing on your list? Is sex the reason you got married? Is sex the reason you chose to commit yourself to one man for the rest of your life?
Or is it more than that? Deeper than that? If life were to hand you something unexpected, could you stay married if sex were no longer possible? Would you still love your husband without sex?
A person who is LGBTQ seeks a lot of the same things as any standard straight person- intimacy, connection, relationship, love, authenticity.
I hope you'll come back and keep reading and consider keeping the discussion going. I think that each "side" has a lot to learn from each other and about each other.
Liz, very well said (as usual).
Thank you for sharing this. The Bible is explicit in how we're supposed to treat others---with love---and I don't understand why people think there's a message of hate in there. Anywhere. For anybody. Especially children and teens who are dealing with this issue. Jesus said, "Let the children come to me," not, "Let the children come to me---oh, except for that one who might be gay. Not him." I'm grateful there are Christians like you showing love!
Liz, I re-happened upon this post again today, and read through all the comments. I wanted to say, after reading your last comment on this post, that I think maybe you understand the essence of being gay more than I do! Or at least, you can express it better.
Still love this post. :)
Thanks, Flartus. It's one that stays with me, as well.
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