Love matters now more than ever…

fdaaa725e646d03892cb48babf8124ffI don’t know what it is about Sunday’s lately.  Last week I woke up to unsettling news from someone I know who has a gay child.  While at a pride event in her town, she came across two men who were there to protest.  One of the men had on a shirt that said “Jesus is Enough,” and they were standing behind a sign that read:

We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ pleading from God a message of reconciliation.  Repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

They had a bullhorn and were yelling “you’re disgusting” at the people enjoying the event.  When the mom went over to try to reason with them, they spit at her.  Really??  Ambassadors??  The Sunday before that I woke up to the news that two gay kids of one of my friends were severely beaten.  Both events were deeply upsetting to me.

But this Sunday as I listened to the news and heard that there was a shooting at a nightclub, my heart sank.  Before the reporter even announced it, I knew in my heart that it was a gay club.  I grabbed my phone and googled the name Pulse in Orlando and sure enough I was right…and one of my deepest fears had just become reality.  When I left for church, the report was that there were 20 dead and 23 wounded.  When I got out of church, the number of people killed had reached 49 with the wounded at 53.

The Wednesday before this atrocity took place, the parents in my PFLAG group were discussing how fearful we are for our kids safety.  I know, I know…parents always worry about their kids and their safety.  While that’s true, there is another level to the fear that we carry.  I fear for my son’s life every day.  I know that when he walks out the door there could be someone who takes their hate for him to the unthinkable level.  All of us parents of LGBTQ children dread getting THAT phone call.  Every day.  This is especially true when they are out with their significant others.  Are people going to realize that they are a couple? Will it be obvious even if they don’t display affection?  Please God let the crazies think they are just friends.

Not only do we as parents worry about their safety, but they worry as well.  They know all too well what people think of them.  They know all too well that there are people who think they “are disgusting” and would like to do them physical harm. That is why places like Pulse are so important to them.  It’s a place where they can be themselves. They can dance with their partners, they can hold hands, they can just plain old have fun in an atmosphere that is accepting.  They can’t do that in a regular bar.  I know countless LGBTQ people who have been beaten up in “straight” bars.  Imagine living your life never being able to hold hands with the person you love while walking along the beach watching a sunset.  Imagine your life never being able to steal a kiss while enjoying a special moment together in public. Ever!  That is the reality of many LGBTQ people…and it isn’t right.

This post is meant to try to shed some light on some things.  I am traumatized by this event and some of the things I’ve seen in the aftermath.  This post isn’t meant to blame anyone, lump anyone into any categories…it’s meant to be a window into what the LGBTQ community is facing and feeling.  I’m just one person.  Although I know a lot of people in this community and I’m drawing from their experiences as well as my own, it certainly doesn’t capture everything that is happening or how everyone is feeling.  My hope is that it will help you engage with people in the LGBTQ community, as well as their families, and help you understand where they may be coming from when they respond to things right now.

We are tired.  We are frustrated.  We are angry.  We are sensitive.  Oh so sensitive.  There are SO many layers to this tragedy. As a mother, I can not fathom what the parents of the victims are going through.  To get those text messages…to not be able to help.  I can’t imagine what it was like for the victims there who didn’t have families to text because they have been disowned.  I can’t imagine what it is like for some of the survivors that have had no one from their family check in on them…not to mention that fact that this may be the very thing that has outed them as gay.

People have asked me in the past…what can I do to help this community?  I know a lot of people who care and want to make a difference.  It warms my heart.  And my answer to them is…Love.  Love them.  All people need love.  But when you are seen as less then, strange, different, or “those people” love is even more important.  The problem is that sometimes when we think we are being loving, it doesn’t come across that way.  So here are some things I would like you to know:

  • Even if we didn’t know someone who was injured or died in the shooting in Orlando, we are grieving.  We are going over the “what if’s.”  We know this is a reality this community faces everyday.  And let’s face it…it’s just awful.
  • If you know someone who is LGBTQ and didn’t check in with them when this happened to see how they were doing, even if they don’t live in that state…they aren’t feeling the love you profess to have for them.
  • When you post support for attacks in other countries like Paris by changing your profile picture for instance, or post your sadness over a gorilla being shot at a zoo, but don’t say anything about this event…they aren’t feeling the love you profess to have for them.
  • When you pretend this was an attack on all of humanity, and not an attack directly on the LGBTQ community…they aren’t feeling the love you profess to have for them.  Let’s say this attack was in a Christian church.  Would it be an attack against humanity as a whole, or would you feel like Christians were targeted?

Here is something that a gay man had to say about it:

Don’t tell me I have to view ‚Ä™Pulse Orlando as an attack on America instead of an attack on gay people.  Because we’re not Americans when you call us faggots, we’re not Americans when you legally fire us, we’re not Americans when you kill trans people, we’re not Americans when you deny us adoption rights, we’re not Americans when you say nasty sh*t to us when we’re holding hands on the street (and yeah, we do hear you), we’re not Americans when you deny us marriage licenses or a simple wedding cake with our names on it.  In all of those circumstances we’re just gay people, and being an American doesn’t matter.  So, out of respect for everyone who fought and died before me, I’m going to take a few days to mourn as a gay man before I mourn as an American.  And then after that, you can resume telling me I have to be at war with people I don’t know, even though I’ve been at war with my own countrymen my entire f’ing life.”

Strong words…but I don’t blame him at all.  My son told me yesterday that he is tired of fighting for his right to exist. That right there breaks this mama’s heart.

  • Unfortunately, there were many Christians who celebrated this attack.  Now hear me…I’m not saying all Christians. Some.  And some were pastors praising it from the pulpit.  When you argue that not all Christians are like that, and don’t acknowledge the pain people feel knowing that people want them dead…they are not feeling the love you profess to have for them. They know not all Christians feel that way.  You don’t have to argue that point.  My son also said to me this week that he is tired of people wanting him dead.  Would you want your child to walk around with that every day of their lives?
  • When you pat yourself on the back because you were kind to a gay person…they are not feeling the love that you profess to have for them.  If you claim to be a Christian, you should be kind to everyone…and not feel like you’ve done a good deed by doing so.
  • When you say I love you and I’m not judging you, but I don’t agree with your “lifestyle”…they are not feeling the love you profess to have for them.  We need to stop reducing people to genitalia and sexual acts.  They are human beings just like you.  (I will do a post about lifestyle another day).

Folks until you enter into their story…they are not going to feel the love you profess to have for them.  I wish we could be more like Joshua, a boy who just turned 12 and is part of the LGBTQ community.  This is what he said to his mom when he found out that not all of the victim’s bodies had been claimed:

“Only half of the victim’s families have come forward! Does that mean the rest of them abandoned their sons and daughters for being gay, or are too embarrassed for their family members and friends to know they had a gay child? How did I end up in a family who loves and accepts me, but so many other LGBTQ people didn’t? How is that fair? EVERYONE needs a family! The Christian Church is supposed to be a family! Christians call each other “brother” and “sister.” The Christian church is broken, just like my heart.”

I know that there are a lot of good Christians out there.  In fact, Joshua attends an affirming church and that’s one reason why he can’t understand that this happens.  There is good and bad out there every where.  Be the good.  I know many of you are and I’m so thankful for that and thankful for your support.  But sometimes when we think we are doing good, we are missing the mark.  This is just a post to give you food for thought.

When engaging with someone on this topic, remember they are in pain.  I had a charley horse in the middle of the night last night.  You feel that little “twinge” before the extreme pain kicks in.  Sometimes your words, actions, or lack of words and actions can be that little twinge that then causes extreme pain.  And just like you feel the soreness in your calf for the rest of the day…the pain of your words, or actions, or lack of actions lasts.  It’s a constant reminder of the hurt.

I will leave you with these words from the song Inscription of Hope by Z. Randall Stroope:

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining
And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there
And I believe in God, even when He is silent
I believe through any trial, there is always a way

But sometimes in this suffering and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter, to know someones there
But a voice rises within me, saying ‘hold on my child’
I’ll give you strength I’ll give you hope, just stay a little while

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining
And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there
And I belive in God, even when he is silent
I believe through any trial, there is always a way

May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace

Love each other….because love matters more than ever now.