One of the many reasons why I love my university, is because of it’s proximity to NYC (of course it’s not all rainbows and sunshine though). On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to see Troye Sivan perform at Radio City Music Hall. I was so excited because 1) I don’t go to concerts often (once I went to a Justin Timberlake concert for my 16th birthday), and 2) Troye Sivan is an openly gay performer who is close to me in age. This second reason may sound trivial or silly, but even just 5-10 years ago as I was growing up and going through grade school, I didn’t see gay people in popular culture (unless it was for a bad reason). In the past two years, “Love, Simon” was released and brought gay teen romance to the main screen; “Call Me by Your Name” won an Oscar and (whether I liked the story line or not…) brought the production value of LGBTQ+ films up tremendously; India repealed its prohibition of gay marriage; a lesbian women was elected as a Bishop in The UMC; and I saw Troye Sivan in concert with a best friend. Our voices are finally too loud to be silenced–though we are still excluded, beaten, and tortured around the world.
On February 22nd, I will fly to St. Louis with roughly 800 other delegates from United Methodist Churches around the globe. Over the course of four days, we will be voting on whether or not our Church will accept and celebrate the ministry of LGBTQ+ persons. No matter what happens, I have learned that legislation does not change people. Yes, it grants access to those who were previously deprived of it, but it does not change the minds of those who vote “no.”
Whatever happens, the conversation of inclusivity has been forced into Church discourse, and LGBTQ+ isn’t only a title whispered secretly. A Church/country/family which struggles together and admits “I don’t quite understand where you’re coming from, but I’m willing to learn,” is a Church/country/family I’d be a part of. Regardless of rules, people will always fear what they do not understand. When we, LGBTQ+ people, stand firm in who we are, we cause cognitive dissonance: the “straight” world that people thought they lived in is suddenly shattered. LGBTQ+ is not just an “issue,” we are people like all others: complex, and yet having the basic need to love and to be loved.
So, on this national coming out day, I give thanks to the brave LGBTQ+ leaders before us–those who rioted for our rights and died at the hands of unjust governments; to the out and proud leaders in media who make our existence un-closetable; to the young teens struggling to find their voice and fearing what will happen when they do. We are all in this together. I continue to proudly live as a gay man, and as one called to ordained ministry. May it be so for so many others who do not have this same privilege. May we each have this conversation, humbly approaching each other to better understand–to truly see and to love.