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Lately every time I open my mouth I find myself surprised. Surprised by the volume and conviction and tone and passion with which I have been saying things. This is not the voice of that same person who used to carefully weigh each word to make sure it pleased all of her listeners. This, rather, is the voice of someone who has learned that she has something important to say, and that not everyone (or even most people really) are going to agree with it, but she is going to have to say it anyway. Because it is true, and truth is beautiful.

Today my dear friend M and I drove to a Christian college not so far from here and shared our stories in a Human Sexuality class. Had you known us in college, this would probably be a shocking statement. We were not the kind of people you would expect to go around talking about our sexuality, or much of anything controversial for that matter, in front of crowds of people. But it seems that is exactly the kind of people we have become, and I cannot tell you how liberating it felt. Afterwords we were so full of the power of our own voices that we wanted to burst into classrooms all across campus and announce that we were there to talk about being gay, and share with them our winding journeys of how we came to peace and then even thankfulness for that. Then, we wanted to drive right on back to our undergraduate campus and start shouting our stories from their podiums too! That’s how empowering it was, just to stand before a crowd of students not unlike those we sat silently next to during all those years of Christian education, and tell them that we are gay and we love God and women and life and yes even ourselves, most of the time anyway. Our elation wasn’t so much about the student’s reactions, which were entirely a mixed bag with some peeking out from their own well guarded closets to thank us shyly, other smiling warmly, and some smirking and refusing to look at us as they brushed past us at the end of class. Nobody stopped us to say their life was radically changed by what we had to say, but I think that’s fine because our elation was not about what they heard but rather about what we were able to speak. With conviction and grace and even a good bit of humor we stood up there and said this is who we are, and how we have come to be here, and we are not ashamed. And even more, we are grateful.

It had been raining all day, but as we were driving back home and celebrating our voices the clouds lifted and this incredibly soft but brilliant light broke through the clouds and reached down towards the ocean beside us. And maybe it was because we were feeling sentimental and maybe even a little tender towards our faith and all the bumps it has taken these past few years, but I swear we both noticed at the exact same time that it was almost as though God was painting those broad,  brilliant strokes of light across the sky in celebration with us and our triumphant speaking of our truths.

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I want to raise the bar again. When we were first coming out, we learned to lower our standards and take what we could get. We tried to look grateful when you said “I disagree, but I still love you.” Hell, most of the time we even were grateful. But right now I don’t give a damn whether or not you agree with me, or with us, or with any of this. Because what I want to know is, the next time you hear somebody saying that I am somehow less because of who I love, will you speak up for me? What I want to know is, if I raise my glass in a toast to her will you celebrate with me? If I march for our chance to have the same legal rights that you do, will you march next to me? If I grow weary of this fight and need a place to mourn all that it has cost, will you cry with me? If your church says there is no place for us in heaven will you stand up for me? I want to raise the bar again. I don’t want to know your theoretical beliefs about my sexual orientation. I want to know that when you look at me, you see a human being and not a theological debate. If we throw another party in celebration of our love it’s not enough for me that you show up and look dutiful. I want you to dance. And if you can’t dance with us, or laugh with us, or speak up for us… if I haven’t ever seen you smile when you look at us together, then I don’t want you there. Do you hear me? Are you listening? I don’t want you there. Because your silence may not be costing you anything, but it is costing us everything.