Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lenten Series #18: I'm Coming Out - As an Ally!!

One of my mentors recently posted on her FBpage a quote that got me thinking...
""When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak."--Audre Lorde

So I shall speak, and I hope someone listens, but even if they don't, I can still say I am no longer afraid!

Growing up, I remember my mom warning to watch that person or that person (people she assumed to be gay). And not to walk a certain way or do certain things that would give the appearance of me being a ‘sissy’.  Being a single mom she wanted to instill in me those things society says a father would normally instill.  

See, I grew up in churches that constantly put down people who were homosexual to the point that the lesbian woman who loved the church so much would go to everything but not fully be herself in the midst of the church folks for fear of rejection.   Even in my family there is no one who is openly gay, they keep it to themselves or distance themselves because of the rejection and being hurt the most by the people you love.  I grew up in schools were students were facing major dilemmas about their sexuality and yet the community warned other students to be careful so that you won’t get "turned out". I grew up in a city, where certain parts were known for its “gayness” and if you were caught in the area many assumptions about your sexuality were made. I grew up in a school system where kids would beat up another kid who had “gay tendencies”. I grew up in a church where young people sought to find themselves, wishing that they would be accepted, but instead found hateful-looks, hurtful stares, and painful silence as they walked by.

And then finally, I GREW UP!!! 

It was not until I went to college, and heard wonderful presentation by Dr. Maura Cullen, a diversity consultant that I realized how screwed up I was. This session was during freshmen orientation at UMBC. Near the end, Maura said,  “I am lesbian, I waited until the end of my presentation to share that with you so that you would have an open mind. Now some of you ladies out there may be thinking, ‘ohh my goodness, I hope she doesn’t look at me that way’ so, let me be honest and clear with you, even we have standard!”. The whole auditorium erupted in laughter!! It was at the moment that I knew that I had a lot to learn, and on that day I begun the growing up process.  

Today, I can say, “My name is Michael Asbury Hunt, and I am a recovering Homophobic!”

This is something that I have to put into check daily. Something I inherited; was not born with it, but I know within the society in which I lived, the church, my family, there were never good conversations surrounding the issue. Even now I have family members who get upset when I correct them or ask them not to make certain comments. And let me honest, there are times when I have to catch myself about what I am saying or even what I am not saying, because some times silence can be just as hurtful.

During college, I had many friends who were gay, but I still believed that it was sinful and they needed to repent and pray about it.  My thoughts behind this have changed drastically and I thank God for that! Some of you may disagree with me and that is okay, but I DONOT believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do believe that homosexuality, just as heterosexuality, can lead us to sin (especially if we utilize my definition of sin from my previous blogs).  

It is hard to say this especially growing up in communities where this would never be talked about! And to believe that homosexuality is not a sin would be incomprehensible. So I type this blog knowing the consequences that will come. Some of you won’t invite me to your churches and some will begin to bad mouth me and spread rumors. But I pray that some would read my last three blogs and read this one with an open mind and an open heart, and I pray that we begin to see how we as the church, we as a community, especially within the black church, can begin to heal and mend broken relationships between the church and the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex) community, who, if the truth be told are members of the church as well.

What changed your mind? When did this happen?  A few things so, bear with me…

  1. I closely examined why I believed what I believed and after hearing from God through many ways, I knew my opinion had to change. You can read my last three blogs for more details.

  1. I closely examined the life of Jesus.  I found that in no writing do we find Jesus explicitly dealing with homosexuality, although he quite often dealt with the sins associate with heterosexuality.  And Yes I am a follower of Jesus! And for the record, the Jesus that I love, adore, worship, admire, etc, did not go around preaching hate, nor saying stuff like “love the sinner, hate the sin”  which is clearly used to continue oppressing those who don’t view sin the same way as the one saying it does.

  1. I have many friends who have been in same gender loving relationships for many of years and they are faithful committed! More so then some friends/family members/church members who are married and creeping, or single and sleeping! (Good God Almighty!)

  1. I have witnessed my own friends/students/family members/church friends being disowned by parents/family/church/community for loving someone of the same gender.

  1. I used to think that each gay person must have experienced some kind of childhood drama. Whether one believes this or not, the statistics show that the perpetrators of such trauma consider themselves to be heterosexual, and many are sitting in the pews and the puilpits Sunday after Sunday.

  1. The public persecution of gay people by religious institution is down right wrong and hurtful and the God I serve is loving and just and these so-called Christian religious folks are not examples of that.

  1. When some of my childhood friends were experimenting with their sexuality, I was frustrated because clearly from my upbringing being gay was a sin. But years later, I realized that I was more frustrated because the church saw our young people struggling with understanding their own sexuality, and we said and did NOTHING. We turned our backs on them. We hurt them with words and with our ignorant comments. We left them to find out on their own, in a cruel unjust world. The church failed them and that is what saddens me.

I am not gay and have no desires to be, but the sad thing is that I had to give a disclaimer.  It is true that people read and hear what they want. So again, let me make this clear… This has nothing to do with my own sexuality except that I stand now in unity with my brothers and sisters, all those who have been marginalized, hurt, disrespected, and degraded because of their sexual orientation. When I came out in grad school as an ally during one of my classes, rumors begun flying and there were some who were not listening, who only the words, “I’m coming out” and spread the rumor that I was gay.  They did not even have the decency to come to me directly. I heard it from some who were not even in the class!  I have been for some time wanting to express my views, but when you are job searching and you are a Baptist preacher, you can easily be blackballed if you come out supporting those who are same gender loving. 

But I take the risk because I heard the voice of Jesus say “If you will come after me, deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follow me.” So today, I come out, carrying the cross, as an ally, and I pray that you do likewise.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

1 comment:

Karl Kroger said...

Thank you for your example, your courage, and for sharing your journey.