Though we hold certain theological convictions as queer or “Side B” Christians (those following a traditional belief on sexuality), I was recently reminded we share much history and experience with the greater LGBTQ+ community — which shapes and influences our own lives and experiences. Things are better now than they were sixty years ago, but abuse by religious and secular societies still exist.
There is more work to be done.
What follows is a poem originally written as a spoken word piece, highlighting queer historical events and experiences. May we learn from history and allow this to inform our future thoughts and actions.
Living on the Rainbow Spectrum: Queer Experience Across Generations
Hidden in plain sight, unknowing and unknown
Yet sometimes others see it before our stories are our own
It sometimes takes a while for our affections to rise to our awareness
Some of us live in closeted denial that we are on the rainbow spectrum of LGBTQ+
We hear disgust, discomfort from our friends, church, family
If they knew what we were feeling, we’d be hacked off from their tree
So even when we know that there is something different about us
The hate and violence of history teach us hiding is a must
There used to be a day when people tried to cure us (some still say they can)
They used to give us lobotomies, electroshock, transplant testicles from other men
Because of our “mental illness,” the U.S. government got scared
And discharged us from military and government roles during the Lavender Scare
Yet we still hope for more acknowledgment, equity, some kind of social win
We look back on all the violence and hate towards us at the Stonewall Inn
Those riots sparked a movement that is still going on today
To make the world a safer place to say that we are gay
In 1973 the psychologists said, “Our bad, this isn’t actually an illness.”
You couldn’t figure that out earlier before you maimed, maligned, and killed us?
But then the Church took up the mantle of converting us poor lost sinners
Conversion therapy to make girly men into macho tough-guy winners
Pray the gay away!
Fake it till you make it!
Let go and let God!
Didn’t you find our lack of true “change” at least a little odd?
Not even when poster boy, John Paulk, was caught in a bar for gay men?
He only went to “use the bathroom” he tried to pretend
After 37 years Exodus International owned its methods ineffective
Even those who married the opposite sex were still same-sex attracted
And we who were told the lie by the Church that our healing was only a prayer and faith away
Were never told “I’m sorry we pushed a false narrative on you.”
You still hate that we are still gay
It’s strange the Church would think us God-haters, evil, abominations
We went to church more faithfully than those who prayed for God to change us
Don’t you think we tried?
Cried out to God for change?
Almost all of us at one time wanted to be “normal,” but each day we’re still the same
And some of us believe as you do, that from gay sex we should abstain
We live our lives in celibacy, though sometimes this causes us pain
We call ourselves gay Christians, but you say that isn’t okay
“Your identity cannot be in a sin, you can’t be a Christian and gay.”
You’d prefer we say we have “unwanted same-sex attraction”
But much as it’s done to this poem
That phrase shatters the rhythm of people’s lives, calls for constant self-hate
Treats us extra broken
And leaves us feeling so very alone
With lots of work and many tears, it’s a little safer to own our orientations
But in spaces conservative, they’d prefer not to make our acquaintance
It’s time the Church upped its game and tried to understand us
Maybe stop finding us so odd
You think we’re somehow more broken than you
But aren’t we also made in the image of God?
Ruth Coker Burks, the Cemetery Angel, sat with a thousand dying AIDS-afflicted men
She begged their families to come and see them, these men were rejected again and again
When so many were dying alone of AIDS, when families said they were dead to them
Weren’t you called to be there caring for the widow, the poor, the orphan?
But this gay man’s disease must be what all us faggots earned
Let us die alone
Wash your hands
Tell yourselves it’s what we deserved
You wouldn’t be there because you thought our lifestyle obscene
Those that called us spouse and life-long partner could be barred ’til 2015
From the time we are young we’re told that God made Adam and Eve
Yet later find in our minds and hearts we’d prefer Adam and Steve
Or maybe Thelma and Louis are more our cup of tea
Or maybe I am asexual, and no sex would do for me
Maybe the gender I was born to isn’t the one I have today
Since I’ve now transitioned, will you still let me stay?
We’ve learned that God hates lesbos, fags, and trannies and that our prayers go unheard
“He is burning in hell,” screamed Westboro Baptist Church at the funeral of Matthew Shepard
We watch the news, read the posts, and have to wonder about those raging against Lia Thomas
How many of those who are hating watched or cared about women’s sports before this?
Or maybe it’s that a trans woman can be a woman, as long as she doesn’t excel
Just ignore the races she did not win
Call her a cheater
Condemn her soul to hell
Please know that for so many of us, it isn’t your God that we avoid
In him is peace, in the Church only hurt, and love seems so devoid
You beat us down, we run and hide, make our own chosen family
Maybe someday your ceasing hate will bring us back to the family tree
The world is better than it once was, but there’s still more work to do
We’ve come this far, through tribulation, we know we’ll make it through
Some places are safer, there are churches that care, and families that remain unbroken
We’ve done hard work, can breathe a bit easier, maybe even hold hands out in the open!
And we are strong, we will press on, find the beat of our own queer drum
We hope for more hearts to change towards us living on the rainbow spectrum
How familiar (or not) are you with queer history? Did any parts of the poem strike you more than others, and how? What are the greatest causes for LGBTQ+ justice and equality that still need to be addressed or changed in the Church, government, and in greater society?