June is Gay Pride month, and I'm taking a moment to proclaim loudly and proudly how thankful I am for the increasing number of Christian faith communities who celebrate LGBTQ+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer] lives, and who partner with them to deepen our shared Christian walk of discipleship.
Today, you'll see a crowd of Lutherans out walking in the Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade. If you are Lutheran -- or just like hanging out with Lutherans -- you're more than welcome to join us. We march at 11 a.m. and host a booth at the Fayetteville Town Center plaza.
Trinity Place Shelter
When: 11 a.m. today
Where: Dickson Street, Town Center plaza, Fayetteville
LGBTQ+ people are leaders in our congregation, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, and in our wider denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They serve on council, teach our Sunday school classes, are called as pastors and much more. At Good Shepherd, they also organize marches, teach us Spanish, coordinate care for refugees, serve as some of our greatest evangelists and in every way make our faith community stronger and more spiritual.
A cherished ministry of mine in our denomination is Trinity Place Shelter in Manhattan, N.Y. The mission of Trinity Place Shelter is to help homeless LGBTQ+ youth and young adults in New York City safely transition out of the shelter system and grow into independent, positive and productive adults. Eleven years ago this month, the shelter opened when Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan unanimously voted to establish the shelter. It has remained open, without interruption, for 365 nights a year, for nearly a decade.
On their web site, they ask, "And why focus squarely on LGBTQ youth? Because up to 40 percent of homeless youth in NYC are LGBTQ. And transgender youth are 250 percent more likely to become homeless than their cisgender counterparts. A typical shelter is unsafe in general and is not equipped to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth and especially not equipped for the unique needs of transgender youth."
Because we just celebrated Father's Day this past weekend, I imagine now is as good a time as any to remind fathers -- and all parents -- that the sexual orientation or gender identity of your child should not be a reason for alienation, rejection or abuse. Our sexuality is such an integral part of who we are as people. To be rejected by our loved ones for it, or told to change, or told by our faith communities -- leaders in particular -- that such orientation or identity is a sin, is a deep kind of abuse, alienating and harmful.
My friends at Trinity believe the trauma and challenges homeless LGBTQ+ youth and young adults experience have only deepened in the past 11 years. And their numbers have only increased.
The work of repentance required of the church in this moment is not over, but has only just begun. We are only now beginning to realize the depth of the distortion that has crept into Christianity, presenting as doctrine a heteronormativity -- alien to how God has actually created us, distant from the actual sexuality and identity of God's people. We are learning from our LGBTQ+ friends how to do this better, repenting of past wrongs and discovering together the great joy that comes in celebrating queerness rather than the straitjacket of straightness.
Blessings to everyone this Pride month. We keep this faith -- and this pride -- together.
NAN Religion on 06/24/2017