In all my time within the GLBTQ community, I have never once felt rejected or discriminated against because of my (hetero)sexual orientation or my (Christian) religious beliefs. Even though most members of the GLBTQ community have had extremely negative, oppressive, or hurtful encounters with people who are (most often) straight, male Christians, I have never felt judged or discriminated against because of how others who look like me have acted. Far from it — I have always felt welcomed by members of the GLBTQ community, and have always felt as though I was respected for believing what I do.
Perhaps this was most evident during the time when I was volunteering at a drop-in centre for male and transgendered sex workers. In the ten year history of this centre, I was the only straight male volunteer and the only Christian volunteer as well. This was not because the centre discrimated against straight males or against Christians — far from it, many of the sex workers who came to the drop-in were both straight and Christian, and I was embraced with open arms by the other volunteers — rather, I suspect that this was because Christians tend to keep the hell away from the GLBTQ community in general, and from male and transgendered prostitutes in particular (because, you know, helping female prostitutes lets Christian men feel like macho/noble knights in shining armour and all that, whereas male prostitutes are just a bunch of ‘faggots’ or something like that).
In sum, even though I have my origins in an oppressive group that has deeply and personally wounded many people within the GLBTQ community, I have still been treated with respect, greeted with openness, and welcomed with love.
In contrast, when I have spoken of my respect for members of the GLBTQ community, and of my faith that these expressions of human sexuality are a part of God’s wonderful and ongoing creative activity within the world, I have been treated very differently by many who claim to be followers of Jesus. Far from being treated with any respect, I have had my words twisted beyond recognition, I have been called everything from a ‘heretic’ and a ‘schismatic’ to a ‘bully’ and a ‘dog’, and I have listened as those who have stated these things have compared my gay friends to pedophiles, murderers, rapists, and people who have sex with animals. There has been little to no respect shown here. No openness. No embrace. No love.
In all of this, recalling Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, it has become pretty obvious to me as to which group in my life has acted as a true neighbour to me. Members of the GLBTQ community are those who have acted as the ‘Good Samaritan’ — a person from an oppressed minority who shows Christlike love, even for a member of the oppressive majority. Unfortunately, members of Conservative Evangelicalism have acted, at best, like the Priest and Levite who pass by the wounded and, at worst, like the robbers who beat others and leave them for dead.