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 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
“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
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.