I have been serving as an advocate for LGBTQ+ people for a long time. But as a mainly straight person, it took me a long time to really understand, at a deep-gut level, what being an ally was all about and what Pride celebrations were all about. And I have to wonder if maybe some other kind, well-meaning straight people might be in a similar boat.
My lack of “getting it” wasn’t because I didn’t care about LGBTQ+ people. It wasn’t because I was homophobic or transphobic. It wasn’t because I didn’t know the right language to use. It wasn’t because I was hung-up on scripture. It wasn’t because I was a hateful bigot.
My lack of “getting it” probably wasn’t even readily apparent. Afterall, I was serving in ministry to cultivate places where LGBTQ+ Christians could connect with God and with each other. There was certainly some theological unlearning to do and the ministry has evolved fairly radically over the years. But the deep understanding I needed wasn’t really about those things.
It was a lot more personal than that.
Truth is, I had internalized the idea that God was oppressive. Oh, I wouldn’t have worded it that way. But somehow it became my assumption that God would constantly and consistently expect and demand hard things of me, that suffering was the dominant motif in the Christian life, and that my personhood really only existed so that I could submit and surrender it to God.
Truth is, my being was rife with internalized misogyny. Women were second class citizens in most of the contexts I found myself in – including church.