I have often cringed when in a chapel service at school or a church service on a Sunday. I cringe because I have heard the question asked, “How do I love a homosexual?” The question has wounded me in the past both deeply and superficially. Deeply: when I was finding it difficult to love myself and difficult to believe that God loves me as I am. The question rang with a sense of disgust and otherness. Superficially: because it hurt my pride… Don’t they know not to use the word “homosexual?” Can’t they at least speak our language and say “gay, lesbian, or better queer or LGBTQI?” Do they even know what the letters stand for?
In my cringing, I found that instead of entering into a conversation, I often wanted to perpetuate the divide by smugly asserting to myself my own rightness, openness, and obvious superior loving. I wanted to join in with countless others who say they should get it. That it isn’t my responsibility.
However, the times that I did take responsibility and enter into a dialogue, I found people who were brave enough to ask questions in the midst of a no-shades-of-grey culture. I found people who were seeking to love the best they can. People who were brave enough to ask and seek and attempt to knock on the door of their neighbor even when they were unsure of how to word the question, where to look, and who might be behind the door.
And I found healing and reconciliation. I found love that I thought was improbable was really operating on improvisation. I found deep friendships and found myself placed into a role of consultant for professors, leaders in church, and counselors who wanted me to help them understand better.
Could I reject the idea of being the token lesbian in the classroom, the church, or the counseling center? Of course. But I didn’t. To be honest, I was asked questions I didn’t know the answer to, and I found myself gently correcting others. I was always afraid when I would first confront them, afraid I would get too angry or be too “nice.” I was improvising… out of love. Love for those making an effort to love even more.
We, all of us, have a responsibility to love in improbable ways, to improvise the notes and melody and hope and believe that together we can create resonance more than dissonance in our unity and love.
Now my frustrations are on more divisiveness I experience. I do not want to go to a “gay church” where we are segregated or where we are the primary focus. I cringe at catchy slogans that place more emphasis on being gay than being part of a living body of Christ. It leaves the same bad taste in my mouth as the Christian parodies of brand names plastered on a t-shirt. I distance myself from movements which create more divisiveness such as boycotts against charities and more arguing than listening.
I long to simply be a part of community where we live out Christ lived, Christ died, Christ risen, Christ living in and through us. And even in a community where we are different, and perhaps we may not see eye to eye, that we can improvise love.
My grandfather passed away a couple of weeks ago. My fiancée was there holding my hand through the funeral and visitations, crying with me. I know that many didn’t understand us, and two of my family members were brave enough to ask what they should call Deanna. Our response was one of patience and love – that they can call us fiancées or partners, and once we are married wife or partner is fine. The point is that we are recognized and loved. Love asks the hard questions. Love reaches past our own pride and weariness of answering questions. Love provides the words when we are unsure of what to say and whispers to us what note should be next in our collective song.