This week, the United Methodist Church voted to affirm that they still do not allow their clergy to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples. They also made stricter guidelines and punishments for clergy who are out and are not celibate.
This was devastating news to many Methodists, including LGBTQ Methodist ministers I went to seminary with who had been working tirelessly for a very different outcome. Who love and care about this faith they have given their lives to. My heart breaks with and for them. And I felt grateful to be in a denomination that not only affirmed but celebrated my queer identity.
I also felt outraged and offended by many in our and other progressive denominations who have thought now is the time to advertise that OUR tradition is welcoming of all. I felt outraged by this because this is the opposite of a caring response to our siblings in faith whose hearts are breaking.
Mostly, I find myself indignant that we think we are better. I find myself offended that we think we would be able to love the entirety and complexity of each LGBTQ individual.
Many of us Unitarian Universalist have difficulty accepting and respecting those among us who have a Christian theological identity. Additionally, we are not as truly accepting of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities as we think we are. We as Unitarian Universalists, and we here at All Souls in Indianapolis.
The new laws and policies of the Civil Rights Era did not end racism. Our denomination’s LGBTQ welcoming policies did not end our homophobia and transphobia within our congregations or the denomination.
However, there is a blessing, as there always is. The blessing of being in community, and being in religious community is that we can hold this tension, and commit to doing our work and doing better. We can work on becoming as welcoming as we aspire to be.
What is our work to do, together? In my estimation, we can work on our understanding of what transgender means and what it requires to be truly welcoming of our trans siblings. Many in our congregation have been surprised by all of the identities this term encompasses now, and how not everyone who is trans wants to physically/surgically transition. Some have taken my first Trans 101 series this past Fall, and enjoyed learning information and practicing skills of how to be more welcoming.
Lucky for you the next Trans 101 session begins next Tuesday. The Trans 101 series is a 2-part series, and attendees should come to both the first and the second class. They will be 6:30-8pm on Tuesday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 12th. If you would like to attend, you will need to register with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and confirm you can attend both sessions.
I look forward to doing the work of becoming closer to the welcoming and affirming community we long to be. May it be so, and may we make it so~
With Love and In Faith,
P.S. Check out the library’s resources on the Transgender Experience and stay tuned for more information from them on how they can be a resource in your state of always learning!