We all want to be loved. No matter what we say, how we act or even ways we show out. Love is what we all crave on some level. This becomes particularly true for many of us who wrestle with who we are and who we love. Even when we accept who God has created us to be we are then faced with sharing that with others. It is the power of love that hovers and permeates our feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
Tonight I had the immense pleasure of spending time with a room full of queer black men and women who were all about the luv. The express intent of the event was to focus on the ways we have experienced love throughout the many facets of our lives within the black community. It was a radical gesture of love to combat the injustices of exclusion and marginalization that often happens within the black community.
And do you want to know a recurring theme in mostly everyone’s sharing? Church and/or religion. Yes dear heart. Most of the panel of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender black folk acknowledged coming from a religious home or having a family that was “churchy”. Each time someone started sharing their story about coming out or discovering and accepting their sexual orientation or gender identity it generally included family members being very religious or active church goers.
Now I recognize that the black church has had a hand in advancing homophobia with conservative theologies and literal biblical interpretations. However, what tonight reminded me of was that the black church also knows how to love folk. There are church folks and dare I say even religious people who have found ways to show luv to the people that mattered in their life.
Does this mean that all churches are open and affirming? That out and proud LGBTQ people can be their authentic selves in some church spaces? No. But what it does let me and everyone in that room know is that luv does reign supreme. It shows how mothers and fathers, aunties and cousins, grandmas and uncles have had to deal with someone in their family or congregation that they did not understand and initially did not accept. Yet with time, patience, prayer and experience they came to accept and luv them.
So while I know that there are plenty of Black church folk who do believe gay people are going to hell. There are equal if not more folk who believe that luv reigns supreme and are willing to err on the side of acceptance instead of denial. And as this becomes more of the norm then we will have more and more luv to share.
With my heart full of luv from tonight, my challenge to you is find a way to luv. Give yourself space to wrestle with the internal reasons why you don’t accept LGBTQ persons. Engage in meaningful conversation with persons who have come to a place of acceptance theologically and practically. Be willing to hear from and share with queer folk to learn their stories and challenge your myths and misconceptions. Choose a love ethic that honors the imago dei in everyone you meet.
I offer these suggestions because I truly believe luv reigns supreme when we give ourself to loving God, self and others.
Will you be whole?