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Even “Inclusive” Churches can have “LGBTQ-phobic” members


Susan R

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Back in 2003, I stopped going to a Christian church that I had been attending for ten years.  I actually quit all organized religion after that because they didn’t accept my wife for being previously divorced.  They treated her like a second class citizen.  In late 2013, I started a community bible study in my home that I kept going strong until shortly before I came out to the world last May 2019.

 

Shortly after stopping the Bible study, my wife and I decided we wanted some new Christian fellowship that we could do together.   We started looking for an inclusive Christian church together last fall.  We found one we really liked after attending 3 other churches off and on.  It was actually the same church where our PFLAG support group met so I knew they weren’t completely opposed to people like myself.  The new church we found and started to attend regularly had voted in favor of the affirming inclusiveness of LGBTQ+ Individuals almost 2 years ago but is just now starting to educate their congregation about it in an attempt to to get them onboard.  I had assumed the church was much further ahead in their inclusiveness than they actually are.  The church is actively promoting doctrine that is LGBTQ+ inclusive and that is nice to see.  They have an LGBTQ+ Diversity Team which is now creating classes, groups and events that help with this newly adopted “mission”.

 

It was either my first or second visit to this church last year that I encountered my first negative reaction to being either Lesbian or Trans during a service.  It’s very hard to know exactly which part of me the person despised.  I won’t go into details because some of you already know them from a previous post.  I was hoping with all the recently new focus on inclusiveness that this might be an isolated incident within this church...but it was not.

 

Today, during the service, the couple directly in front of us turned around to greet us near the beginning of the service as prompted by the Pastor.  After my wife and I traded introductions and shook their hands, it seemed like all was good.  But then the wife right in front of us leans over to the husband and says, “They’re lesbians!” like we weren’t even there.  I’m not sure how many people heard it too but I actually couldn’t believe the audacity of these professed Christians.  I was curious as to what gave them this impression about our sexuality in the first place.  My wife and I did not show any outward PDA or endearments that could have caused this rude statement.  To top it off, when they turned around at the appropriate time later in the service to offer the ritual of “peace”, they acted somewhat normal.

 

I’m not going to let this event spoil my attempts to become a viable member within the church if I decide to become a member.  I know some of us would just say “forget this bs” and leave for good.  My thought is...If I did leave, they win.  So just because a church has the inclusiveness rainbow stickered all over their windows, it doesn’t mean they've all arrived yet.  This negative momentary event was countered nicely with my wife and I staying afterwards and chatting with a few members for over an hour.  There’s definitely hope but it looks like it’s going to be a long road ahead for the both of us.

 

Susan R?

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South of you here  I am on the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles LGBT ministry team as a lay person, and have been for nearly 8 years.  The Constitution and Canons of the National Church say that LGBT people are to be welcomed and accepted at all levels of membership and have been that way for LGB for 25 years and almost 5 years for Trans people.  Even with all that, I have experienced what happened to you several times as well.  Usually it is a matter of someone who has not met an LGBT person before and their reaction is really surprise that we are really just the humans that they are.  We are not sexual predators or ferocious animals  but still if they have not gotten to know us or knowingly met one or more of us and it is not an intention to reject us of shun us.  I was at a Parish recently where they were celebrating the dedication of a Service Center for their LGBT members and community members, and it turned into a very nice party.  I was standing around talking to people as the party was breaking up and a 50's age couple came up to me since I had been given a host name badge and were telling me how much fun they had and how welcomed they felt, and then told me they had come late and not known what the party  was really about.  When I told them, the jaws dropped and they looked puzzled, and then we talked a bit more and the smiles came back as they realized that LGBT was not at all what they imagined and instead of other feelings they had imagined about us they now felt wonderfully comfortable with us and not strange.  The wife told me it would take a little getting used to to see same sex couples kissing or holding hands, but their experience had been so nice they knew they could be friends of the community if not allies. Three way hug as they left  -- I never did come out to them as Trans though.

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1 hour ago, Susan R said:

 But then the wife right in front of us leans over to the husband and says, “They’re lesbians!” like we weren’t even there.  

 

Sorry to hear this Susan, for many "Cis Het" folks anything that is out of their comfort zone can bring out the strangeness. 

 

Mathew 7:2 comes to mind after reading your post. 

 

You are better than this, and rise above

 

Hugs

 

C

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2 hours ago, Susan R said:

But then the wife right in front of us leans over to the husband and says, “They’re lesbians!” like we weren’t even there. 

 

I am sorry you had this unpleasant experience.

 

My wife, who is both bratty and very, very quick, might have said something like, "Yes we are.  Aren't you glad you met us?"  She wouldn't let it go, and would have ensured that they knew they were overheard.  Very pleasantly, of course.  :D

 

Regards,

Kathy

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