Safe Harbor

Press power on the remote control, television on

and every moment of viewing we are confronted with images that shame us into wanting to reject parts of our being

turn our bodies and ourselves into slimmer, younger, lighter, leaner

smarter, whiter, wealthier, straighter versions of our selves.

Magazines tell us what not to wear

along with 7 surprising things that turn guys off

And what men want during the NFL halftime.

Messages crafted to ensure we remember that

who we are – at our core – is not good enough.


Would you harbor me?

Would I harbor you?


Asks the Sweet Honey in the Rock song and:

Would you harbor you?

Would I harbor me?


How much time do we spend attempting to do the impossible?

How much energy…how many of our resources do we expend running away

From our bodies

From our identities

Our histories

Our stories…from our very own selves?


How much time, energy, and resources do we spend

not loving our bodies

fearing ourselves because who we are, is not

who we see reflected back at us in “normative” socio-cultural stories and images?

Because we’re actively being conditioned to cling to a mythical norm?


A while back on National Coming Out Day

I decided to feed my facebook obsession

by checking out the page

Wiping Out Homophobia on Facebook


There, in the photo album, I found photo after photo of

same-sex couples laughing, smiling, holding each other

women, men – people – marrying, playing, loving and…


I also found this note from Paul…growing up in a world

in which his identity is continuously questioned and made wrong.

A world in which some who proclaim to speak on behalf of God

advocate death or caging LGBT individuals until we die off


Paul writes:


“I have to tell you that for the past few weeks, I have been pretty low and  had pretty dark thoughts about my life and what to do. I had been bullied at school and things got so bad that I thought about doing something really bad.

Well, I talked to you and you told me to join local groups and online groups to get support from people in my age group who know what I was going through.

Well, I joined an LGBT group in the next town and about 8 online. I now have some great new friends in real life and some online who I’ll never met but who I talk to a lot.

I know this is what everyone says, but I don’t feel so alone now, I am not like the only one.  …I just thought I’d keep you up to date as you were all so kind to me. Thanks to K. and L. for talking me round and to everyone who said positive things, they really did help.”


This broke my heart…and in some small way, it offered some hope.


In a culture that is slow to extend

safe harbor for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

children, youth, adults – elders…


In a culture that supports heterosexism & homophobia

In a culture that promotes messages of same-sex deviance often enough,

many – especially youth – begin to

internalize that message.

Believe that message.

Begin to question their, my, your, our inherent worth and dignity

It is easy to feel other-ed. To understand others and sometimes oneself as strange, deviant…

It would be effortless to create a list of all the ways we – who are

queer – have contributed to society…have enhanced the world.

It would be easy to catalogue the gifts of all the LGBT “strangers” among us.


And. Here’s the power of affirming the inherent worth and dignity:

It’s inherent. It matters what we do, sure. And, it matters more that

we simply are.


We…any one of us…shouldn’t need to be any more special to be accepted. To be loved.

To be equal.

We only need to be here. To show up.  To love…


That’s the nugget of wisdom in the first principle: inherent worth simply “is.”


To love ourselves is the equivalent of a tiny revolution

To love all those unchangeable innate beautiful truths that

make us who we are

and the imperfect pieces and parts that we argue with

That we shove away

That we suppress

That we pretend we feel okay about…

when we embrace all of those parts

and come to see them as holy

it is the equivalent of a tiny revolution.


In her book: All About Love: New Visions,

bell hooks writes:

“When we are taught that safety lies always with sameness,

then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat.

When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear –

against alienation and separation.

The choice to love is a choice to connect – to find ourselves in the other.”


When we’re taught that safety lies in sameness

when we’re taught that the only safe community is

a community of people who look like, dress like, think like we do

When we’re taught that only certain body types belong in the public sphere

When we’re taught that only people of certain heights or gender identity

or educational background or sexual orientation are capable of leadership

then we begin to fear everything in ourselves

and subsequently in others – that fail to fit what we’ve been

carefully taught.

We begin to fear everything that differs from the constructed “norm.”


And. What we fear, we seek to destroy.


But, when we – as individuals, as social systems with power,

as a community –

choose to love…move against fear…and connect

with difference, with that which appears to be strange – then

we make room for the Holy to thrive in and amongst us.


The tiny revolution in Paul’s story was just that.

A community that willingly created room for him – holy and inherently worthy –

to show up

Willing to extended safe harbor.

I want it to be true that we can create such harbors for

ourselves and for others.




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