“What was your favorite part about the conference?” It’s the question I’ve been asked the most by my friends who know how much I wanted to go. If you read my last post, On Holy Ground, you know they are referring to the GCN Conference. I’m on week two since being home and I’m still processing.
I would have to say I have a favorite parts. The worship was powerful, the speakers were inspirational, the breakout sessions were informative, meeting some new moms and reconnecting with others was fun, the vigil was moving…it was all really good stuff. A time that I will remember forever. But what were my favorite parts?…the atmosphere and the people.
The atmosphere was relaxed, affirming, loving and well…fun. So many smiles. A place where you felt totally free. You could be yourself. It felt really good being there because I didn’t have to worry what anyone thought about my family, I didn’t have to worry about what anyone thought about my parenting, I didn’t have to hold anything back or feel censored in what I wanted to say…it was amazing. I was so happy for the LGBTQ people who were there. If I felt the way I did as an ally and parent there, I can’t even begin to imagine how they felt. Being your authentic self is healing.
My other favorite part…the people. They were genuine. There is something so intimate about being invited into someone’s story…someone’s pain. I mean think about…we didn’t know each other, but in one of the breakout sessions we sat in a circle and they shared their deepest feelings and experiences. I just wanted to scoop every one of them up and bring them home with me because in the midst of the smiles there was also pain.
And the hugs. I want you to think about this for a moment. How many strangers would you go up to and hug? It’s perfectly normal to hug our family members, and we tend to be ok with hugging our friends…but strangers? That might seem a little strange. But for some of the people at the conference, this is a healing thing for them. Human contact that they are denied on a daily basis. Several of the people who shared at the mic night on Saturday mentioned how much they liked the “mom hugs,” …one even saying that a hug from a mom is better than Prozac.
So…atmosphere and people. Since I’ve been home these two short weeks, I’ve learned of a mom in Brazil who stabbed her 17 year old son to death because he was gay, a young man who was attacked outside a Target and hospitalized because he is gay, and a young transgender girl who took her life because of bullying. Being in an atmosphere that is accepting and being with people who are affirming is not only life changing as many attested to…but I would venture to say…is life saving as well.
I leave you with this post from the lesbian daughter of one of my dear friends in reference to the inauguration. Many are told to get over it, but this is what the LGBTQ community lives with on a daily basis and why this conference is so important:
“I love my job, I really do. I figure as long as my back allows me too I will keep my CNA license and use my gifts as a caregiver. Yet tonight as I made my way from room to room, every TV tuned to the event I did not want to see, I held my breath and thought this could be it. In a state with no statewide LGBTQ anti-discrimination law, at a Christian non-profit organization, working an already high-turnover position, serving a population with a drastically different worldview, though I love those I care for dearly and feel loved dearly, I worry. I worry I will slip up when I give my standard why I don’t have a boyfriend answer, or why I cut my hair like this. I worry a coworker will intentionally or unintentionally “out” me at work. I worry the lady ranting about how the “gays” are ruining America will see that twinge of pain in my eyes as I gently lay her down in bed. I worry someone will ask me about it and I will have to lie again, because it has happened and I’m worried about that day coming when I could be told you are not allowed to use your gifts.”
I love this girl…and I love her mama and the many, many more who I have crossed paths with and even those I haven’t. I invite you to do the same.
Because love matters….