I got the sad news recently that a classmate passed away last month. We went to middle school together. We had reconnected three years ago at Mike’s 30th high school reunion because they also went to school together. We became Facebook friends and caught up via social media. He got cancer about a year after the reunion. He left behind a wife and young daughter. He sure did love his girls.
I was going through my messages yesterday and saw a private message from him on FB that I had saved. In the message, he asked if I had a gay child or a close loved one that was gay. He knew something was up from my posts on social media. I told him my son was gay and shared a little bit about our journey. He shared that he was an ally. He actually owned a barber shop and told me that they were LGBTQ friendly and actually helped transgender people with their transitions. It was so sweet. I saved it so I could refer people to his shop.
Sometimes you find allies in the least expected ways or places. Looking back at our time together in school, I would have never guessed he would become an ally. In fairness, my memories of him were of being a bit of a trouble maker in school. Not in a mean way…but he tended to be mischievous. You kind of forget that people grow up and mature (smile). It is also equally surprising where you find opposition.
Being harassed at work seems to be a theme lately. I know a young man down in Florida who was treated poorly by a customer he was helping. She had overheard he and a co-worker talking about their significant others. He mentioned the name of who he was dating. His love interest has a name that could be male or female so the customer asked him if this person was a boy or a girl. He replied boy and she proceeded to tell him that he was going to hell and she did not want him to ring her up. She got the manager involved and caused a scene right in front of this young man. Luckily his manager told the customer that they don’t discriminate at their store.
I know another young man who was loudly shamed at his place of employment by a customer. In this case, however, the manager did not stand up for him. Things became so miserable for him there that eventually he quit. These are both disturbing incidents, but I think the most disturbing is from a friend who lives in Virginia. Her daughter has been harassed at work by former church members. They come into the store and ask her how her walk with the Lord is going and then proceed to tell her that she is going to hell. While she is at work! She has come home more than once in tears.
What makes someone think it is ok to talk to a child this way? How is that Christlike? It isn’t. And people wonder why the LGBTQ community is angry at the church…why many have stepped away? It’s no mystery to me. Did God really task them with being judge and jury? And where does it stop…just with the LGBTQ community?
I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager and young adult it took me time to develop confidence in myself. Those first jobs were nerve-wracking. I can’t imagine having someone confront me in this way while I was at work. It is wrong on so many levels. It is disturbing and shameful.
This is one of the reasons that allies are important. Thank you to those of you who have searched God. Done your own research. Realized that many are going about things the wrong way. Your kindness…your love…could literally save a life.
And I hope if you ever encounter one of these horrific scenes in person, you will stand up for the person being shamed. Show them that not everyone is like that. Show them some love….because love matters.