Tag Archives: youth

Don’t Say Gay?

Today I had the privilege of both speaking briefly at a prayer breakfast and meeting with fellow clergy and Tennessee state  legislators to discuss the far-reaching implications of Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  As you may know, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would force teachers and school administrators to literally “out” any student who approaches them to discuss anything related to homosexuality.  This bill is not only a HUGE step backward in our work to create equality, but also a CLEAR message to LGBT youth that they sit in their closets alone. I honestly can’t decide if this legislation makes me more want to cry or shout… or possibly both.

No matter our political or theological leanings, we should be able to agree that children and teens should not be killing themselves because they have been placed in a situation so hostile and isolating that they feel there is no other alternative.

I don’t often write my sermons/reflections out in a word-for-word document… but I did this time.  Thought I’d my reflection with you here…

Don’t Say Gay?

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When I confirmed my participation in this breakfast, one of the organizers asked about scriptures that would be appropriate to share this morning.  I immediately thought of this small story from Joshua 20:

Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought.

It’s an interesting little story, isn’t it?  It’s the Lord telling Joshua to provide refuge for people being pursued by their enemies.  In this case the cities of refuge are specifically for people who have accidentally killed someone, but let’s think about the spirit behind the idea…

Provide safety, refuge, and protection for those who need to be protected.  It’s an important enough idea that the commandment to provide cities of refuge can be found in 4 of our OT books.

“Provide a place where they can flee and find protection.”

Let me be clear – I AM NOT implying that a non-hetero sexual orientation is in any way deviant or that LGBTQ youth – or any youth – should feel the need to hide because of who they love.

BUT… I do like the standard set in this passage that God provided a place of safety for those whom society considered morally outcast.  Should our schools and churches not also be these places for our youth?  Shouldn’t our teachers have the freedom to act in compassion and be a “city of refuge” for students who are sometimes literally “pursued by their enemies?”  Given that our kids spend 25% of their day under a school roof, shouldn’t we do everything we can to make it a safe place… a city of refuge… rather than a place that makes them feel isolated and alone?

Given that research shows the isolation LGBT youth feel may be one of the greatest contributors to the fact that these kids are:

  • more than 8 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • almost 6 times more likely to experience serious depression
  • over 3 times more likely to have regular unprotected sex than other youth.

Given that… shouldn’t we do everything we can to hold them close rather than push them further outside the city walls?

From the gospel of Matthew:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

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Bullying, Depression, and The Extra Credit Kid.

Bullying.  There, I said it.

I just read a pretty decent article titled “Are Depressed Kids Bully Magnets?”  The article is (obviously) about the possible link between depression and bullying.  It doesn’t deal specifically with LGBT kids, but… c’mon.  The author questions whether kids become depressed because they’re bullied or whether they’re bullied because they’re depressed.  After all, the author reasons, a sad, downer kid crying in the corner is a pretty easy target.

If you have any connection to LGBT youth, you’ve probably already made mental connections between bullying and depression… and being gay and depression… and being gay and bullying… and have already realized how all these ingredients can mix together into a pretty nasty cake.

After reading the article, I was reminded of a short story I wrote a few years ago about an “extra credit kid.”  (Hopefully) it raises some questions not only about  the need each of us has for someone to look beyond our ordinary and see something special, but also about our ability to bounce back when they don’t.

And so, because I think it somehow relates to our larger conversation of the LGBT experience, I present…

The Extra Credit Kid

When the boy was ten, his 5th grade teacher used the hour after lunch to teach her class the beautiful language of the deaf.  Even though everyone in the class could hear – even though they all listened to their radios at home and turned their TVs louder than their mothers would have liked – this particular over-achieving educator wanted her class to know sign language. She wanted to teach their still innocent hands how to do something constructive.  She wanted them to learn gestures that would communicate without offending the elderly.

The children loved their sign language lessons.   Once, during a silent game of Ring Around the Rosie, they even got so rowdy that the teacher had to remind them to use their inside hands.

After the first week of learning to speak with silent words, the boy told his teacher that his mother was deaf.  He said that everyone in his family knew how to use sign language.  He had been doing it for years.  Sometimes, before bed, he even used his hands to read out loud to his mother.

“But not the Bible,” he said.  “All the whosoevers and wherefores make my knuckles crack.”

The teacher was amazed. Like an exotic exchange student from a quiet and faraway land, the boy was a native who already knew the language. He was a natural tutor.  In a moment of instructive genius, the teacher offered bonus points to any child who spent time with the boy whose hands could talk.

He was the extra credit kid.

Within hours of the teacher’s edict, the extra credit kid became the most popular kid in class.  His lunch table was always full.  His seat was always saved.  He never spent recess jumping rope by himself.  He was extra credit.

Every afternoon The Extra Credit Kid leapt off a bus full of new friends, eager to tell his mother how popular he was at school.  With exhausted fingers, he bragged about how everyone wanted to spend time with him because he was good at something.  Because he knew something.  Because he could do something no one else could.

Because he was extra credit.

The teacher asked The Extra Credit Kid to keep a journal of the time he spent with friends from their class.  She wanted to be fair when she assigned extra points.  The Extra Credit Kid soon noticed that he was invited to lots of birthday parties and sleepovers, but only on nights before the teacher tallied progress reports or just after difficult math tests.  He played lots of video games with the lazy kids, but was never spoken to by the smart ones who had stars next to their names on the bulletin board.

In March, everyone celebrated The Extra Credit Kid’s birthday by singing Happy Birthday with their hands.

In April, his class took a special trip to a school where the children couldn’t hear.  The Extra Credit Kid ate lunch at a table full of deaf kids and told a joke so well that a boy almost choked on his peas.  Everyone from The Extra Credit Kid’s class turned around to look.  The rest of the cafeteria hadn’t heard a thing.

In May, everyone waved goodbye to each other and promised they’d play together at the swimming pool.

In June, when school was over, the Extra Credit Kid’s new friends stopped returning his calls. His hands, once limber from telling jokes and stories, grew lazy and fat.  Summer vacation wasn’t nearly as much fun as the school year had been.

The sixth grade was even more disappointing than the summer. His new teacher, Mrs. Espinoza, had severe arthritis and wasn’t interested in sign language.  She wanted to teach the children Spanish.  The Extra Credit Kid had never been to Spain.  For a month he spent the hour after lunch memorizing conjugations with his hands folded politely in his lap.

It was hard crossing from extra back to ordinary. It always is.

During the seventh grade The Extra Credit Kid learned to play the trombone.

In high school his hands were often busy, but with a new sign language that involved him talking mostly to himself.

The Extra Credit Kid eventually went to college and found a job and became a man.

After a while, the man almost forgot that he had ever been extra credit.

But then, when his mom visited, they would sit together and tell stories with their hands.  And laugh.  And he would remember.

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Some of my best friends are gay…

If you’ve never met my boyfriend, you’d like him.  He’s good people.

Jeremy’s starting a new project called “The Allies Project” that helps gay folks see that there are tons of straight people who love and support LGBT folks.

Basically, he’s asking LGBT people to share a story about how a straight ally has helped make their journey easier. The idea is that “When you share a story about how a straight person has made a difference in your life, your ally becomes our ally.”  Pretty brilliant, right?!

Read a story written by an LGBT person about how an ally has made a difference in their life.

Read a story written by an ally about why they love and support the LGBT community.

When LGBT youth “come out,” they already know that the gay community will love and support them.  Duh.  What they don’t always know is that there are TONS of open minded, loving, compassionate, straight people who will support them as well.

These kids need to know that not all straight people are against them!

If you’re LGBT, share a story with The Allies Project about how a straight person has made a difference in your life and make your ally our ally.

If you’re one of our straight allies, tell a story about why you love and support the LGBT community.

Help LGBT youth know that they’re not as isolated from the straight world as they sometimes feel.  Support The Allies Project!

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Christians and Gay Teen Suicides

Experience satirical wonderfulness below….

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Filed under Church, Music and Media, Opinions

A Letter to Parents of LGBT Youth… It MUST get better.

Even though Jamey Rodemeyer found the courage to make an “It Gets Better” video encouraging his LGBT peers to “hold their heads up,” things didn’t get better.  Last week Jamey committed suicide.

Our friend Kathy Verebiest of Canyonewalker Connections said this about Jamey’s video (which you can watch below):

…too bad he was not saying “I am getting so much support from my youth leaders at church who just love me” …where are the positive role models of healthy living for our gay youth in churches? I MUST get better. It MUST. And now he is dead.

Jamey’s parents chose to bury their gay son in his favorite outfit – including a t-shirt printed with the Lady Gaga mantra “Born This Way.”

Amen.

Jamey was lucky to have parents who accepted and supported their gay son.  Not all LGBT youth are this fortunate.  It sometimes takes moms and dads a while to understand what it means to have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or tansgender child.

Kathy Verebiest – one of our straight allies – has written a powerful letter to the parents of Christian LGBT youth.  If you know a kid who’s struggling to survive because his parents are struggling to understand… send them this letter. Our kids need all the support they can get.

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Church Bullies?

A few days ago, a friend of mine on Facebook posted the following update:

“Today, I’ll try not to track down a bully, take a 2 by 4, sharpen it, & pound it up his rear with a croquet hammer. For I’m a man of peace. I will, however, rattle a few cages of some elected representatives who create anti bullying websites with NO ADEQUATE LAWS to back it up.”

My friend obviously isn’t Gandhi… but can you blame him?  Wouldn’t you also be tempted to find a few creative uses for a croquet hammer if a kid at school was making your kid feel like his life wasn’t worth living?

It’s been almost a year since the suicide of Tyler Clementi – a Rutgers student who jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate posted a live internet video of him having a sexual encounter with another man – brought increased national attention the “problem” of bullying among LGBT youth.

Those of us who work with (or are) LGBT youth didn’t need the death of Tyler Clementi – or any of the dozens of other youth who commit suicide due to bullying every year – to remind us that words can be even more dangerous than sticks and stones.  Dozens of studies – including this report from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence – report the effect of discrimination and harassment on LGBT youth:

40% of youth who reported a minority sexual orientation indicated feeling sad or hopeless in the past 2 weeks, compared to 26% of heterosexual youth… [the data] also showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely as heterosexual youth to have considered attempting suicide in the past year (31% vs. 14%).

Adolescence should be a time of hopefullness, not hopelessness.  The church – one of the primary vehicles God has given us to communicate His hope to the hopeless – should stand as a sanctuary of peace and safety for LGBT youth.

Does yours?

Our friends at Lutherans Concerned/North America have developed a super anti-bullying curriculum that’s designed for churches who want to make both their congregations and communities safe(r) places for LGBT folks.  According to the promo literature, Where All Can Safely Live “was developed with the help of the staff at the Pacific Violence Prevention Institute, from the pioneering research on bullying by Dan Olweus, and materials created by the United States government.”

Interested?  Download a free copy of the anti-bullying curriculum (“Where All Can Safely Live”) here.

Reference:

Almeida, J., Johnson, R., Corliss, H., Molnar, B., & Azrael, D. (2009). Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 1001 – 1014.

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What every LGBT youth should know

Have I mentioned that I work with LGBT youth in New York City schools?  If not, let me mention it now.

I work with LGBT youth in New York City Schools.

Now that Labor Day has passed and Southern Ladies everywhere are saying goodbye to their white shoes, kids across the country are also headed back to school.  Last year I conducted an exercise with a few GSA (gay straight alliance) clubs where I had them write “one thing you think every LGBT youth should know” on an index card that I then shared with the group.

Their answers were stunning.  And heartbreaking.  And beautiful.  And encouraging.   I spent most of last spring walking into NYC classrooms with a handful of worn index cards telling gay kids, “this is what your peers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan think you should know. Pay attention.”

Today, whether you’re beginning a new school year or starting a new work week, this is what your LGBT peers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan think you should know.  Pass these thoughts along to the important people in your life.  Add your own ideas in the comments and I’ll paste them into the list and share them with kids this year…

  • People sometimes don’t understand.  Educate!
  • There’s always going to be those who don’t agree with your way of living.  You just have to learn to deal with it.
  • Take your time to come out.
  • Confidence may be difficult to find, but it’s important to be courageous and carry yourself with you chin up.
  • It’s going to be ok.
  • There are people who will accept you.  Not everyone is ignorant.  Also, those people can help you with any problems you have so don’t be afraid.
  • Your sexual orientation doesn’t change who you’ve always been.
  • It’s not that different.  Don’t’ feel like an outcast, because you’re definitely not.
  • You are normal, this is natural, and that there is someone out there that accepts and loves you no matter what.
  • There will be at least one person to accept and love you, so never give up.
  • It gets better.  It honestly does.  Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy.  Don’t let your sexual orientation define you.  Grow and flourish into who you want to be.
  • It is okay and perfectly normal to be who you are.
Cheers to you, kiddos!

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Zoo Cow: a big, gay parable.

I wrote the following story several years ago, when I was still deciding if “coming out” would completely ruin my life.  At the time, I was a professional minister.  Several times every week I stood on a stage in front of hundreds of people and told my stories… and talked about Jesus… and tried to help people understand that they are accepted by God.

But while I was sure that God accepted me just as I was (even though I was gay), I wasn’t sure the congregations I served would follow His lead if I told them my full story… especially the parts about me liking boys.

That’s why I wrote the following story.  “Zoo Cow” was an outlet… a thinly veiled metaphor. It’s about a cow that lives in a zoo.  Although the Cow feels terribly ordinary, he also knows he’s completely different from everyone else. He’s misplaced in a world that doesn’t understand him, hoping someone will see him – and love him – for what he is.

Subtle, right?

As a former youth minister, I’m increasingly concerned about gay teenagers in the church who currently feel as I once felt.  We read bunches about loud and proud gay kids taking their boyfriends to prom, fighting for gay rights, and starring on GLEE.  But what about the thousands of LGBT kids who aren’t loud… who aren’t proud… who spend every Sunday morning hiding quietly in the pew next to you?

You know they’re sitting next to you, right?

In a study of 5,819 religious teenagers from 635 churches, a team of researchers found that 7% of religious youth claimed to be homosexual, 5% claimed to be bisexual, and 2% weren’t sure or their sexual orientation (Clapp, Helbert & Zizak, 2003).

That means that, contrary to what some church folks seem to think, gay kids aren’t just out there.  They’re in here, too.  Apparently, 14% of youth in our churches aren’t as “straight” as some people may think they are.

They’re hiding from us – afraid of what will happen when they’re “found out.”  They’re also hiding from each other – camouflaging themselves so well that they don’t see the people just like them who are hiding right next to them.

They know.  It’s hard to be a cow in the zoo…

Zoo Cow.

Once there was a Cow who lived in a zoo. He lived next door to the Panda and across the path from a Zebra, but they didn’t talk much. The Zebra was always busy and the Panda never had much to say.

Plus, they were fancy and the Cow was plain.

The Panda was wonderfully white with black spots and the Zebra was beautifully black with white stripes. But the Cow wasn’t extraordinary at all. He was just regular white except for a big black patch on his back.

Black and white.

White and black.

All three of them looked like I Love Lucy reruns standing in a field.

The children loved to watch the Panda and wished they could pet the Zebra. But when they stopped in front of the Cow’s fence, it was usually just because they needed to tie their shoes or because they found a stray nickel. Most children had seen a cow before.

One child had seen a cow on a milk carton.

Another had seen one holding a sign in a fast-food chicken restaurant.

The little boy with a balloon had even been brave and touched one once when he drove from the city and visited his Grandfather’s farm.

The Zebra loved it when the children took pictures of his beautiful stripes and watched him run across his field. Their shouts and flashes made him feel special. He sometimes wondered, however, what would happen when the children realized that he was really just a horse with stripes who was afraid of lions. They would probably think he was ordinary and boring and never come back to visit.

The Panda adored the bronze plaque that told everyone she was born in a far away place called China. It reminded her that she was rare and wonderful. She spent all day pointing at it so the people would notice, but she was secretly afraid that the children would love the monkeys better than her because they whooped and hooted and threw their poop at grown-ups.

The Cow stood in his field wishing the sticky faced children would think he was something other than ordinary. He often heard their parents call him “Grade A” and “Prime,” but somehow their comments never sounded complimentary.

One day a group of children came to the zoo in a big yellow bus. They stopped to look at the Cow, but only because their teacher told them to.

“The Cow looks lonely.”

“The Cow smells funny.”

“Why does the Cow have flies on its butt?”

“Are cows stupid?”

The children were loud and asked lots of questions.

One little girl said, “Mrs. Jenkins, is that the kind of cow that makes milk like I put on my cereal?”

“No,” Mrs. Jenkins said. “That’s the kind of cow that makes hamburgers like we’re eating for lunch.”

The little girl rolled her eyes. She was a vegetarian. Her mommy said that hamburgers would give her cholesterol. The little girl didn’t know what “cholesterol” meant, but since she already had cooties, she wanted to be extra careful.

The Cow felt trapped in the zoo. Lonely. Of course, most animals feel trapped in a zoo. That’s why it’s called a zoo and not a forest or a farm.

The Cow, however, didn’t feel trapped because of the gate. He wasn’t lonely because he didn’t get to visit faraway farms and factories like the country cows did.

The Cow felt trapped because the children and their questions reminded him that he would always be a cow – different from the other animals around him.  No matter how hard he tried, he would never be as cool as the Panda or as interesting as the Zebra. He would never climb a tree or race like the wind. He didn’t like bamboo, and whenever he wore stripes, they only accentuated his already round belly. The most the Cow could hope for in life was a fresh bail of hay, a vague fantasy about a stampede, and a bell around his neck ringing to remind everyone that he was a big fat cow.

And so the Cow spent every day eating his grass – ignored and out of place – feeling like a cow in the zoo.

**

One day a Chinese woman came to the zoo and stopped to look in the Panda’s cage. She yawned when all the Panda did was pose and point and eat bamboo. The Chinese woman wondered if the zookeeper might have any ideas for keeping Pandas out of her backyard. It made her angry every time she saw one of the black-and-white beasts snacking on her serenity garden.

An African man seemed mildly impressed with the Zebra, but in a hungry way that made the Zebra nervous.

Later that day a little boy came to the zoo wearing blue jeans held up by a belt with an impressive silver buckle. The boy walked past the Panda and didn’t care much for the Zebra. But at the Cow’s pasture he stopped and watched for the longest time.

He stood next to the Chinese woman as she tried to offer the Cow a piece of her hot-dog. She seemed disappointed when he refused.

An African man behind the boy whistled so the Cow would run and play, but the Cow didn’t want to run and play. Especially not when someone whistled at him.

But when the boy saw the Cow he didn’t take pictures or point. He didn’t poke his hand through the fence or make loud noises. Instead, he watched. He watched until long after the Chinese woman and the African man left.

The boy wasn’t afraid of the cow, but he wasn’t impressed by it, either.   He knew that cows are nothing to be scared of.  He also knew that it’s better to understand something than to be impressed by it. And he already understood the Cow. Little boys wearing belts with big silver buckles usually do.

The Cow ate his grass and watched the little boy watching him.  It was good to feel ordinary and unimpressive.  After a long while he finally realized what the Panda and Zebra never would.

When someone really understands you, your cage doesn’t seem so small.

References:

Clapp, S., Helbert, K., & Zizak, A. (2003). Faith matters: teenagers, religion, and sexuality. Fort Wayne, IN: LifeQuest.

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The Gay Life Cycle (how we get from the snail to the sheep)

I recently heard a fantastic episode of NPR’s “This American Life” that revealed the secret lives of parasites – those disgusting little bugs that sneak into our bodies, hide in our darkest corners, and eat away at our insides.

In the podcast, Carl Zimmer, author of “Parasite Rex,”  tells a fascinating story about the lancet fluke, a crafty little worm that lives in three separate hosts before it finds its final home.  If you’re not squeamish, I think you’ll enjoy the story.  Hopefully it’ll also speak to your experience as a LGBT person…

Act one:

According to Carl, the lancet fluke starts his life as a tiny egg resting peacefully in a pile of sheep poop with a few hundred other lancet fluke eggs.  As night falls, a hungry snail slowly passes the poop and decides she’s hungry. The snail isn’t picky.  She’ll eat anything.  During her midnight snack of sheep poop, the snail not only eats the fragrant, steaming excrement – she also accidentally gobbles up the lancet fluke eggs.  Days pass.  The eggs hatch.  Tiny lancet flukes start squirming around inside the snail.  The snail, not happy about hundreds of worms wiggling around inside her gut, gets a bellyache and spits the tiny worms out in a wad of sticky goo.  Classy.

Act two:

An ant marches through a field, following a tasty trail of the snail’s slime.  The sticky goo is one of the ant’s favorite treats on a hot day.  Imagine the ant’s delight when it finds a tasty wad of snail slime right in the middle of the trail!  The ant reasons that the snail must have left it there the night before.  The ant is so excited that it doesn’t even notice the tiny lancet fluke babies swimming in its supper.  It eats the goo, worms and all.

Act three:

The ant starts acting strangely. It’s not aware that one of the tiny lancet fluke babies it accidentally ate yesterday has worked their way through his body and is now clamped onto his nervous system.

From this strategic vantage point, the lancet fluke is able to control the ant like a puppet, telling it what to think and feel.

Inside the ant, the lancet fluke knows there are sheep in the field grazing on the tall grass nearby.  He also knows that he’s never going to get back inside one of those sheep if his host stays buried deep inside an ant hill.  And so, the lancet flute tells the ant it wants to climb.  Obeying the lancet fluke’s every command, the ant leaves its nest and climbs to the top of a tall blade of grass.

Sitting on top of the tall grass, the ant can see a herd of woolly sheep grazing in the distance.  One of the sheep wanders closer.  Before the ant can retreat, the sheep lowers its head, eats the grass, and chews the ant into small, mushy bits.

The lancet fluke survives both the chewing and the swallowing.  Finally free of the snail and the ant, the lancet fluke swims happily in the sheep’s stomach, ready to lay her eggs and restart the cycle.

The Point…

The lancet fluke lives in a pile of poop so he can endure the snail so he can find an ant who will eventually help him get back into a sheep.  He lives a complicated life.

Can you relate?

As LGBT people who believe (or are trying to believe) in God, many of us spend some time in the belly of the snail.  We go thorough so many stages – so many changes – during our journey.  It’s not easy to move from the snail to the sheep – to move from fear and doubt to self-acceptance and celebration.

We seek God.  We separate from God.  We question God.  We thank God. We rebel against God.  We doubt God.  We fear God.  We hate God. We cry out to God.  We worship God.

We live many different (and complicated) lives.  Our identity, ideas, and beliefs are constantly changing… growing to accommodate our experience… stretching according to our stage in life.

What I believed about my sexuality when I was a zealous Christian teenager was vastly different than what I believe now that I’ve gained a few years of faith.  What I once feared, I now embrace.  The snail has given way to the ant.

The upheaval I experienced when I “came out” cleared away some of my less-grounded and unexamined ideas about God.  The demolition was painful, but it also cleared space for more mature beliefs.  The ant is leading me to the sheep.

It’s comforting to know that this lancet fluke journey of ours is leading somewhere;  that every stage – no matter how frustrating, frightening, or confusing – is simply a stop on the twisted way back home.

Like the lancet fluke making his way through a complicated life cycle, it almost seems as if Christ is orchestrating something…  Bringing us back…  Reuniting us with God…  Moving us through the progressive system of salvation.

Sound familiar?

Through Christ God reconciled everything to himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

He’s reconciling everything to himself.

Even us.

He’s making peace with everything in heaven and on earth.

Even us.

This whole journey – even the crappy parts – is moving us toward redemption.

Kind’a makes the snail and the ant easier to endure, doesn’t it?

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Summer Camp for LGBT Christian Kids

I know it’s a little early (or a little late) for my regular Tuesday update, but…

I just read a fantastic article about Rev. Patty Fox, a minister who wanted the LGBT youth at her church to have a summer camp experience designed specifically for them.  Next week she’ll take a group of queer kids into the woods for four days of summer camp fun…

The church’s handful of gay teens wanted to have a summer camp of their own where they could identify with each other and help foster spirituality, Fox said.

“It was the first time I’d ever seen a Christian-based camp program geared to gay and lesbian teens,” the pastor said. “They asked, ‘Why can’t we do this?’ I decided there was not reason not to.”

As someone who’s spent literally thousands of hours playing, speaking, swimming, hiking, laughing, teaching, and worshiping with kids at camp, this makes me incredibly happy.

Pray for Patty and her kids as they get ready for camp next week…

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