Pride as Sacrament: Coming Out

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Pride as Sacrament: Coming Out

National Coming Out Day: Oct 11

Today (October 11) is National Coming Out Day, an event started in 1988 and observed in all 50 states since 1990.  It is a day of celebration for many and a significant risk-taking for others who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Pride as Sacrament: Coming Out

National Coming Out Day: Oct 11

Today (October 11) is National Coming Out Day, an event started in 1988 and observed in all 50 states since 1990.  It is a day of celebration for many and a significant risk-taking for others who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and their straight allies.

This year, there is much to be celebrated:  ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed and our military has not unraveled, more states are legally recognizing and protecting our relationships, and California recently banned “therapy” to turn gay youth straight.

However, there is still much work to be done.  An increasing number of states have passed constitutional amendments that discriminate against same-sex couples.  It is demeaning to have politicians and others deride the loving commitments we make to each other.

I recently attended an event supporting Lost-n-Found Youth, “Atlatna’s only nonprofit actively working to take LGBT youth off the street.”  Despite all the progress we have made, my attendance at the event powerfully reminded me of how difficult it is to be a teen that is something other than “100% straight.”  According to Youth Pride Inc., gay and lesbian teens are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide; over 36% of GLB youth in grades 9-12 have attempted to take their life.

In September 2010, Dan Savage and his partner launched the It Gets Better website to post video messages to teens who are bullied and at-risk.  There are now over 50,000 videos posted online with over 50 million views.  There are postings from “ordinary people,” celebrities, organizations, businesses and politicians, including one from President Obama.

Coming Out, for me, is not really about telling people “who you sleep with.”  For me, Coming Out is a continuing process, a journey, of claiming “Pride” for and in ones self.  Pride, for me, is a sacrament.

My favorite definition of a sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” (Book of Common Prayer).  It is true, my theological tradition recognizes only two, Baptism and Communion; I realize I’m wandering a bit from orthodoxy.

However, Baptism and Communion are two rituals that the Church uses to bring our awareness to the fact that we are claimed and accompanied on our journey—we are never alone and never abandoned.  Pride, for me, is a process of continuing to grow in that awareness—most especially when people and culture around me are not affirming.

Pride is accepting the fact that you are accepted—YOU ARE ACCEPTED.  Paul Tillich, for me, still said it best:

You are accepted.  You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know.  Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later.  Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much.  Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are are accepted.  If that happens to us, we experience grace.  After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before.  But everything is transformed.

–Paul Tillich

In addition to Tillich’s liberating word, here is my pastoral word for National Coming Out Day (and every day that you need it):

REFUSE to accept that you are not accepted!  As long as your relationships are mutual, equal and appropriately vulnerable, they are pleasing to God and an expression of God’s Love.

Take a firm stand on this point—in the words of Congressman John Lewis, the great Civil Rights leader: don’t give in, don’t give up, don’t give out!  It might be easy to reject those who will spew hate with placards and bullhorns at the Pride Parade on Sunday; but reject the “politely packaged” version, too.  Reject the notion that your love is a “sin,” but “we are all sinners covered by God’s grace.”  Your love that is mutual, equal and appropriately vulnerable is NOT a sin in need of the grace of redemption!

Think of it in terms of “left handedness;” (I happen to be left handed).  There is nothing wrong with my handedness; it is simply part of who I am.  True, I am statistical minority; true, we have not always accepted those who are left handed and sought to “correct” them.  But we would now consider it ridiculous and obnoxious to attempt to “correct” my handedness or think anything of it other than a simple difference.  (I’ll confess, it sometimes is annoying to have to repeatedly turn the receipt the right way at the check-out.  Left handed people know what I mean.)

You are accepted!  On National Coming Out Day, in ways that are appropriate for you, I invite you to partake of the “sacrament of pride”—claim who you are, know that God claims you and accompanies you.  Let your Light shine, every flickering flame expels a little more darkness.  It has gotten better; it will get better—so, live!

The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of [everything].

–Paul Tillich, alt.

Read more http://whereheartandmindmeet.ccuccatl.com/2012/10/11/pride-as-sacrament-coming-out/

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