How similar words can sound!
This week the Affirming Ministry Committee is considering two experiences and how vastly different these two experiences can be in the lives of the LGBTQ2S Community.
Here are the two experiences:
Have you ever had a secret or some information that maybe you weren’t supposed to know and you had to pretend that everything in your life was the same as before? You would have to watch everything you said and control every expression on your face. You couldn’t relax because if you let on what you knew, the consequences could be catastrophic. Well actually you wouldn’t know what the consequences might be.
Think about how it might be if the secret was your whole being, your actual identity.
Coming Out is the enormous step that members of the LGBTQ2S community make when they choose to share the secret of themselves. I remember when a friend of mine told me he was a gay man. I know what it was like from my point of view. He was my friend and the news didn’t change that one bit. But what was that like for him? How scared must he have been to say it out loud to someone he cared about but could not truly know what the reaction would be until he said the words out loud.
Coming Out is not always an easy step and as the definition describes, it continues to be a life-long process. Why should being your real self have to be a process at all? Why should the members of the LGBTQ2S community have to hide their true, beautiful selves at all?
Outing someone happens when someone thinks that they should just help this process along. Sometimes it is vindictive, a deliberate attempt to cause pain, injury or harm.
Sometimes it can happen when a well-meaning Ally thinks that discussing someone’s sexuality doesn’t matter because they are an Ally and therefore very supportive. I was nearly guilty of this myself when I wrote this article because in the first draft, I mentioned my friend’s name.
As an Affirming Congregation, we are going to have to learn how to be supportive without stepping over the line, how to hold the precious gift of trust that this marginalized community might extend to us and nurture our relationships with Love.