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Wow, I haven’t blogged in forever. There is sooo much to blog about–a crazy amazing panel discussion about being gay and in Divinity School that happened on campus yesterday, a (now semi-) new relationship that I’m in that is going really well, the incredible class I’m taking at UNC-Greensboro on God and Sexual Orientation, etc…etc….

But, I don’t have time to talk about all those things right now. Right now, I actually just want to repost a sermon I had to write. I’m not much of the sermonizing type, but to graduate from the Div School, we have to take a preaching class, and in said class, we have to write (and preach) three sermons. Below is the transcript of the first sermon I did. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (note: WordPress isn’t letting me include my endnotes, which I guess is ok, since those who heard me preach this didn’t get the citations either! If you want citations, let me know via email, and I can send them to you…. just an fyi, I stole a lot of ideas for this sermon from an incredible book my Eugene Rogers- Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it!) Alright, here’s my sermon:

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When I look back over the past few months, the one word that comes to mind is “progress.” When I started this blog, I hadn’t come out to anybody who hadn’t already come out to me at least ten times over… and now I can safely say that I’ve had “that conversation” with all of my closest straight friends, and they were overwhelming positive experiences across the board. I’ve told my best friend, my roommate, new friends from seminary and old friends from college, and out of the dozen or so people that I talked to, only one said the dreaded phrase that we all brace ourselves against: “I still love you, but…”

Mostly, what I heard instead went a bit like this:

“I don’t care, as long as you’re happy…” said my long term college friend, who once told me she was permanently boycotting IKEA after they showed a male couple with their arms around each other in a commercial for their furniture.

“You didn’t seriously think this would change things between us, did you? And don’t think this means you get off the hook either… whoever you date still has to be a Christian, you know” said my best friend of six years, and roommate all throughout college.

“Ok,…” said my current roommate, “But seriously, how cute is our dog?”

“Congratulations!” said one of my closest college friends “… but really, like I was saying, I honestly don’t know which of those three boys I should date.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised,” said another college friend, “but you can definitely call me whenever you want to talk about it…” as she proceeded to share with me several insightful connections between the challenges I will face in my relationship, and those she is already facing in her own biracial relationship.

And in some way or another, they all thanked me for sharing; for being vulnerable and honest… for the very things I had felt so saddened about omitting from my relationships this past year.

In short, these experiences were all varrying shades of beautiful. And so, I came home thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was ready for the one big step I have left to take… telling my parents.

My initial reaction, as soon as I arrived, was to chicken out entirely. I mean, things were going so well. And why would I want to screw up that? But then there is the little messy detail that I am actually dating someone now, and while I could justify not telling my parents the abstract idea that I had been questioning my sexuality, because abstract conversations are just not how we operate around here anyway, I am fairly certain they would want to know that I am in my first real relationship. I am fairly certain, given my complete lack of ability to hide things, that they will find out eventually anyway.

And so, I have been toying again with the idea of telling them, as my week here at home is wrapping up, and the amount of time that I would have to face them after the conversation is getting comfortably shorter.

But then, last night, the Grandchildren conversation suddenly popped up, and with absolutely no permission from my brain whatsoever, my mouth asked my parents: “If I had foster babies, or adopted, would you love them? Would you treat them like your own grandchildren?” Now, this is a conversation that the girl that I am dating and I have been having quite a bit lately, because a desire to go buy a house and fill it with the voices of children who have been forgotten by our society is what almost kept us each individually from coming to grad school in the first place, but it is certainly not a conversation that I meant to have with my parents.

“Sure, we would” said my mom, because she would, I know she would… just look at the way she squeals with joy every time she sees my dog, the same raggedy little lost puppy she told me firmly I couldn’t take in around this time last year.

My dad, though, my dad launched into a discussion of how said hypothetical-adopted-grandchild will almost certainly have antisocial personality disorder, or in layman’s terms, no conscience whatsoever, which is a leap in logic that I have never been able to convince him is lacking in several dimensions.

 A few minutes later, he is well into his famous “Speech on How You Have no Idea How Much Trouble Those Troubled-youth Can Be”… in which he always omits the fact that I have a fairly good idea indeed, having spent the past year working at a residential treatment center with aforementioned youth. When he is done with that speech, he is onto his all-time favorite: “You Would Be Much Better off to Pick a Nice Husband and Give Birth to Your Own Perfect Babies…”

At this point, I interrupt him: “but would you love them,” I ask… “If I did have foster babies, or adopt, would you still love them?”

He sighs dramatically. “I guess it would have to be on a case-by-case basis. If they were a lot of trouble, then no… but if they were really good kids, then yes, maybe we would.” My mom, still listening from the kitchen, nods her agreement to this case-by-case assessment. If they are good kids, if they behave themselves, then we will love them.

Now, rationally, I know that my parents are not talking about me… and this is not a fair way to assess how they will react to the news I am trying so hard to work up the nerve to tell them… but I can’t help but feel, at my very core, the implications of this message: if you are good, if you play by the rules, and continue to fit our standards of “the perfect child,” we will love you. Now, this is probably more my fault than it is their own, because I never fulfilled my teenage duty to test this assumption with a Class A Rebellion that would have proven to all of us, once and for all, that their love for me is not conditional…that they will still love me when they find out that my poster-child career is about to veer seriously away from the normal curve.

I know, deep within myself, that the time is coming. The time is coming for me to take a step of faith, and trust in the grace they hold deep within them… trust in the love we have been building up all these years now, just as I have already done with all the other people I hold close to my heart. But so far, that time is not quite here… not yet. I still have a little courage left to build… a little praying left to do.

But for now, in the pocket of time before I am ready to take this final major step in coming out to the people I hold dearest, I am content to sit in overwhelming gratitude for the grace that I have already been shown… for all the different ways my friends have shown me that I can step outside of their expectations without stepping outside of their love. I’d call that progress.

We had another one of our meetings, up in the attic of the little coffee shop we’ve all spent so much time in lately, and C was kind enough to share with us a little of her knowledge about the law, and how it relates to those of us in the LGBT community. I didn’t notice this, and I suppose it was because my own eyes had glazed over a bit themselves, but on our way out, the girl that I am dating mentioned how all of our faces got a sort of blank, glazed look on them about half way into the updates on marriage (we still can’t get married, and probably won’t be able to for some time now) and getting kicked out of our respective institutions (they still can kick us out, and probably will be able to for some time now).

Now don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the information C provided us with, because how can we even begin to hope to change situations if we don’t even know what the situations really are. But it was hard, because I forget. After having spent my entire life with most opportunities available to me (and my deep thanks go to the feminist movement for that), I keep forgetting that it is really not the case anymore. And it is incredibly hard to remember that I am supposed to be grateful now when people make some sort of response to me that indicates they are still going to recognize my humanity, even though I’m a lesbian. I forget that for them, recognizing my humanity is often a big and gracious step that they view as pretty radical, and all I seem to be able to remember is that I have been alive my entire life, and so my humanity does not seem all that radical to me.

And so sometimes, I get angry inside, even when they are trying their hardest to be kind and generous. Take, for example, my roommate the other night. Now, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude as how accepting she has been of me since I came out to her, and I really am truly, deeply grateful, but a couple of nights ago we were just joking around in the kitchen with my little dog, and I told her: “I really am glad it turned out that you like my dog, because it would have been really terrible if you didn’t!” And she laughed and replied: “yeah, but what you should be really grateful for is that I’m not a homophobe, that would have been terrible.” And she is right, and I am grateful… I just forget sometimes. Ok, I forget a lot of the times… because I am just not used to having my dignity be such a tenuous thing, up for debate at almost every turn.

As we were leaving the coffee shop after Sunday’s meeting, the girl that I am dating mentioned how the whole time we had all been sitting up there, looking a little defeated and numb around the edges, she’d had this song from Rent playing in her head… the one that goes, over and over again, “Will I lose my dignity, will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow, from this nightmare?” And so that song ran through my head the rest of the day, and the two of us have been singing it intermittently ever since, because I think on some level, that is the question we are all asking: Will we lose our dignity? And if and when that happens, will someone care? If I do decide to start a family one day, will it ever be recognized and protected by the law? What happens if my school decides that I no longer have a place at their table, and where will I go if they force me to leave? Will people ever understand the cutting potential of their careless words when they make assumptions about how my sexuality must necessarily mean that I have lost something of the innocence and potential they once saw in me?

The truth is that I think the answer is yes, at some point, we will all lose our dignity in ways that will be startlingly painful. And yet, we have shown that even in the midst of all if this, in the face of opposition and criticism and persecution, we will not lose our faith….and I have to believe that that is something. In fact, I really believe that it is everything.

It’s been a tough last few days for me. Shit, it has been a really tough semester for me. These last few days haven’t made it any easier. I don’t want to spend the time to explain what has been shitty, its nothing all that abnormal from my other experiences. Lets just say that there have been frustrating classroom discussions and depressing glimpses of reality…moments of breaking out in tears in the most embarrassing and unexpected places, feelings of deep hopelessness, in this season of advent, when I am supposed to be most hopeful.

I sat on my couch last night, in front of the fireplace, curled up in a ball, sobbing, clutching my stuffed gorilla Bummer, as I listened to this song play over and over and over again: Read the rest of this entry »

(-): So, I went to the campus health center to get my yearly skin TB test (for eligibility in clinical rotations). Nothing too exciting. I haven’t had any contact with any TB patients – that I know of. Anyway, I was in the office and it occurred to me that I haven’t had an HIV test. Ever. And yet, I’m a huge proponent of HIV screening for gay men, and to a slightly lesser degree for anyone who’s ever had sex. Read the rest of this entry »

I just got off the phone with my best friend, and we were just talking about life and some of our friends that we used to live with, and go to church with (way back in the day, pre-Mountainside).
“Do you ever talk to them?” she asked.
“No” I explain. And than I chuckle a little bit “I don’t know if they would want to talk to me if they knew… if they go on myspace at all.” Of course I am referring to my sexuality and my myspace page where in the about me: orientation box, it says lesbian. Read the rest of this entry »

I think the video clip speaks for itself…. but this is a bit of my experience with the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride. Unreal, but, sadly, very real….

So, as I mentioned less than a few hours ago, today has been a long day. I also mentioned that I let my emotions get away from me… going from stressing about the day to finding more to stress about.

This slippery slope that my emotions go down is steep. I went begrudgingly to Bible Study, knowing it is not good for me to be alone when I’m having a bad day. At Bible Study right now, we are going through the book “Sex. God.” by Rob Bell. It seems like a decent book so far. I have liked what has been said on the breadth of sexuality and how sexual expression is indicative of connectedness.

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A group of us met together on the second floor of the coffee shop where I have been going to hide lately, and we did anything but. Hide, I mean. There were nine of us, perched in mismatched chairs and overstuffed sofas, gathered together just to be in the presence of other people who are trying to figure out the same kinds of things… like how to put to rest the embedded story that God is not in any of this… how to have “that conversation” with roommates and with family… how to remember that laughter is not only a defense mechanism. I can’t even quite explain what it felt like to be surrounded by people who knew about my sexuality, and not to have to go through that unbelievably painful moment where I come out to someone, and then somehow find myself profoundly grateful if they indicate that they are still going to recognize my humanity. Here, the only coming out that had to take place was when one of the girls came out as a Republican. (and yes, we still recognized her humanity 😉 ….)

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“Okay, this is what I don’t get. I am attracted to…the penis…because I don’t have one. It intrigues me and I’m curious about it. It’s totally new and different, and I have no idea what it’s like to have one. Like God – I know that there is always something new and different that I’m going to discover in him. Like an unending depth. I will always be in the process of knowing God.”

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