Recently I wrote last week about how I was deeply hurt to see friends and family coming out of the woodwork to oppose same-sex marriage. Luckily, I spent the week at Peace Camp with theBaptist Peace Fellowhip of North America. In this space, I was surrounded by Christians who love and affirm me, even my gayness!
I also had the chance to attend meetings with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, the national voice for LGBTQ Baptists. I arrived at our AWAB luncheon discouraged and weary about our work but was greatly energized by our conversations. It was one of the few times that we could all have the conversation on our own terms instead of simply reacting to our opposition. It was comforting to share stories, celebrate our successes, and encourage each other in this difficult work.
The most helpful discussion for me was about reframing the narrative. I felt powerless in the Chick-fil-A controversy to do anything but express my hurt. This was important in that moment, and many of my gay friends opened up on facebook about the ways they felt betrayed by their friends and family.
But at some point, we need to dust ourselves off and reenter some very difficult discussions.
One of the tools we can use is to reframe the conversation. Lest people think the Chick-fil-A controversy was about free speech, we can remind them that this is really about whether a same-sex couple has access to the rights and benefits that come wrapped with a bow when you get straight married. We can do this by providing facts about the very effects of discrimination against gays. But most importantly, we can tell our stories.
Sharing our stories reminds people that gay Christians exist and challenges popular conceptions of both identities.
I’m incredibly grateful that I spent “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” at Peace Camp. Conversations I had throughout the week helped me process the anger and pain that’s been building in my soul for months. Much to my disdain, I even felt called to extend Christian hospitality to people who don’t think I should be able to marry someday. After all, I was at Peace Camp. How could I not view this situation through the lens of God’s love?
Most of all, I felt called to recognize the struggles and humanity of those who oppose me.
Yes, they may hurt my feelings and try to silence me, but they’re still children of God. And very often, they’re our brothers and sisters in Christ. This may make our disagreements even more painful, but it’s also a path to common ground. All we can do is trust that having the conversation is sometimes progress enough.
Amy X writes at her South & Out blog. South & Out shares stories of LGBTQ+ life in the South. From coming out to building community, S&O profiles the gays living out and proud in the Bible Belt. It is our hope that their pride will inspire others as they begin their journey out of the closet.