By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gays In Faith Together
Imagine sitting in your church and the pastor states from the pulpit, “we don’t want any homosexuals in our church. And if there are any present, they can leave now.”
No one leaves. No one makes eye contact. Some are in agreement. Some are in silent agony.
Imagine sitting in your church and the pastor calls forth two women seated together in the pews. They are holding a baby. And from the pulpit, the pastor blesses the lesbian couple and baptizes their child.
They are surrounded by blood relatives and their church family who are smiling, applauding, affirming.
Both scenarios have occurred in West Michigan. Both incidents have occurred in Christian churches. Where would you sit?
As an ally, where would you stand?
At the recent showing of “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” a friend thanked me for allowing an “ally” to be a part of the discussion. Without allies, change will not come.
What is the climate like for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual transgender community where you pray, work, learn and live?
Would that public Sunday dismissal of gays have future ramifications for the shy young ones seated in the pew trying to understand their own sexuality?
Would those words energize a bully to take action against someone?
On April 16, the National Day of Silence occurs in our high schools and college campuses as a silent protest against hate, bullying and discrimination in our schools.
The student-led movement recognizes those in the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community who have been silenced by statements of disdain and blatant acts of violence.
According to a national study conducted by Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. (GLSEN,) more than 85 percents of the lgbt students have reported suffering harassment because of their sexual orientation.
What does this have to do with Gays in Faith Together? or the “Gay Christian? Yes! ” campaign?
Plenty. Discrimination and demeaning words affect everyone. It keeps people in the shadows and in shame. And when it comes from the pulpit, it can be devastating.
But the more we can become a beacon of hope by collaborating with others to affirm the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders in our community, the sooner we can make our students safe in their churches and their schools.
That is why we are teaming up with the Gay Straight Alliances of GLSEN led by Kristen Hanson and Speak Equal led by Brooke Murphy to support the students in their Day of Silence.
On April 16, we have opened up The Vine in the basement of First United Methodist Church First Place Building at 207 East Fulton Street for an event called “Day of Silence/Night of Noise” where the students can react to their day of silence in a safe environment.
This is the same location where (G-SAIF) GIFT's Gay Straight Alliance in Faith meets on alternate Tuesday nights.
And on that following Sunday and future Sundays, may pastors of congregations everywhere realize that their sermons have the potential to harm or heal.
And may they choose healing.
Theresa D. McClellan is the Faith Advocacy Coordinator for GIFT. She can be reached at Theresa@GaysInFaithTogether.org.