I once was broken, but now I am whole—or at least I’m working on being that every day. And part of that wholeness means that I know that I am a Queer Christian. Queer as in woman loving, breath holding, essence of my being. Queer as in desire and passion and living and breathing in a way that gives new shape to old ideas at the center of who I am. Christian as in loving the Christ, breath feeding, essence of my being. Queer Christian as in questioning everything about the Christianity that my Presbyterian, Methodist, Evangelical roots gave me about being queer and being Christian. Queer Christian is freedom in the translation of the Christ from the very institutions in which (s)he has been boxed and confined and refined into a Christ that is bigger than any of it, any of us. A Christ who was himself Queer—born into an alternative family; supported by 12 men loving, holding, and honoring him; drawn to those very women whom were cast from their homes for their use of desire in their survival; and consumed by raw desire through fits of rage in the temples and dark depressions in the deserts and great joys in the mountains. He understood desire enough not to run from it in its darkest form of death and brightest shape of light when he was slung across the brokenness in each of us to sacrifice for the understanding that action is the essence of any desire, and desire outside the confinements of social sanctions is simply faith at its best.
I have driven past churches pretty much my entire life with messages on their signs that say “All are welcome here,” and I know, in my mind, body, and soul that I have to translate that to “All are welcome here if you are White, middle-class, heterosexual, English-speaking, and an American citizen.” I learned to survive as a Queer Christian by attending my ghettoized churches where only gay, lesbian, transgendered, bi-sexual, and queer Christians went. Or I learned to translate enough of the hate language against me and my peoples to still make the church holy enough to transcend that very hate. Or I learned that even in silence, when a church never spoke praise nor harm against my people, that my safety was not assured, and while my spirituality, race, class, and gender may be firmly embraced, my sexuality was to stay in the damaging closet it had never had the strength to stay in from my very early years. I was broken—Queer in the hallways and the bedroom and on Pride Sunday every June, and just Christian all other Sundays, sitting in the pew—broken apart by an institution’s inability to enact the and/both of Queer and Christian.
Open & Affirming is about queering each of us—making us each whole as we live in every pew, every chair, every chancel or whatever we come to each Sunday and everyday of the week. I know what it is to be whole because I am not the only Queer Christian in our church—I know each and every one of us has something a bit queer about us. Queer as othering and disquieting and troubling against the status quo of a Christianity that doesn’t always make sense and didn’t know how to make room for the masses that live outside that status quo. Open & Affirming makes each of us whole and lets me love Christ in the and/both of Christianity and Queerness—there is no greater Love.