10.09.2010

New Jersey Episcopal bishops respond to Tyler Clementi

I was blessed for many years to not know hatred first hand. While I was not popular as a child, I did not feel hated. I was in my mid-twenties before I recognized that I am a lesbian. Perhaps that is why I made it through primary and secondary school - and, indeed, college - without taunts or bullying.

It was not until a few years ago that I encountered hatred directed at me firsthand - hatred because of my sexual orientation. A local newspaper chose my arrival in a small community as an opportunity for what they called "editorializing" and what I considered a violation of intimacy (see the joint response of Bishops Beckwish and Councell for a good description of "intimacy" - New Jersey Episcopal bishops respond to Tyler Clementi). But here again I was blessed because my partner and I were quickly surrounded by people who loved us - though they did not know us - and by people who wanted to assure us that even in this small corner of the world hate did not have the upper hand. For weeks, whenever I put on my collar and appeared in a public place, I was confident that I knew the thought going through the heads of passers-by: "that must be that gay priest" (after all, I was also one of few collar-wearing female clergy persons in the area).

As time passed and as I continued to go about my daily life as best I could - and, I hope, as God had called me - the pain of that cruelness gradually subsided. I will never forget it. Perhaps it is odd, but I've saved those newspaper "editorials" as a memorial of sorts - a memorial to the loss of my naivete. No, I will never forget the hatred and I will always carry with me a greater awareness of the evil in our world.

But - and this is what I want everyone to hear (particularly those LGBTQ persons out there who are convinced there is no hope) - THERE IS HOPE. The love that surrounded my partner and me, the communitis of faith that continues to live out their vow to respect the dignity of every human being, and the sure and certain confidence I have that I am a beloved child of God - exactly as I am - prevail. We sometimes have to look very hard to find hope - we have to actively pursue it (especially in parts of our world where the closet seems to be the safest place to live). And in this way technology - the very tool used to spew hate - can also help us find community.

In the days since the tragic suicide of Trevor Clementi has travelled the social networks of our lives, countless links to resources of hope, healing, and help have appeared. I don't pretend to offer anything "new" or "unique" here; and yet, I think it's important to keep these resources out and available - especially in these times.

This is an incomplete list:

My local faith communities offer space where ALL are welcome. We do not always witness to this understanding completely, but we are on a journey towards acceptance and are truly committed to respecting the dignity of every human being:

My local community
  • GABLES - "the gay group doing good things for the entire community"
The wider community
You are never alone. Please reach out in hope.

1 comment:

The Rev. Debra K. Bullock said...

Additional resources are posted here: http://rowsofsharon.com/2010/10/05/a-cry-for-help/