Ready to come out as pro-gay? Welcome to the club.

MARK RALSTON AFP/GETTY IMAGES The t-shirt of a activist during a gay rights rally on March 4, 2009 against the … Continued

MARK RALSTON

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The t-shirt of a activist during a gay rights rally on March 4, 2009 against the Proposition 8 measure at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles,California park

There was a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people were not seen, heard, discussed, or even thought about in most of our society. No one knew who they were. What people did wrongfully assume about them was that they were sinful people who lurked on the margins of society. Those of us who identified as part of the LGBT community kept quiet, often for fear of what could happen to us if we courageously spoke up.

Though it wasn’t all that long ago, that time is over, and most of us can agree, thankfully so.

In modern America, LGBT people are everywhere.

Even in neighborhoods or cities where there aren’t many visible LGBT people, we are in comic books, in the newspaper and on television. In fact, according to GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, LGBT characters represent 4.4 percent of all scripted series regular characters on the five broadcast networks – an all-time high. While it’s easy to change the channel on a TV show, you can’t change the channel on your neighbor, a co-worker, or a family member who has come out.

As much as media representations of LGBT people help educate and raise awareness, it’s the real-life stories of our community that make the deepest and most meaningful difference. We are working in offices, shops, and factories. We are in schools, as teachers, parents, and students. We are worshipping in the pew next to you. We are volunteering at civic centers and community organizations. We worry about the economy, unemployment rate and the safety of our troops and our nation. We are shopping for cereal and dish soap at your local stores. We are at your family gatherings, passing the gravy and chatting about our lives.

We still see stigmatization and scare tactics from those few anti-LGBT voices who, for whatever reason, find themselves longing for the days of the LGBT community being hidden. But these views do not representing the reality of modern America. LGBT Americans pride ourselves on serving and giving back to our community and our society, and we have proven ourselves again and again as people deserving of moral equality. This is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify excluding gay adults, young people and our families from service opportunities, like with the Boy Scouts of America, the military, and the clergy.

Though their numbers are dwindling, there are still those who, despite (or because of) our progress, continue to view the full participation of LGBT people in American society as a threat. They are increasingly flummoxed because they can no longer declare that we exist on the margins of society.

Well, they can, but they’re wrong, and fewer and fewer people are listening to them.

Some believe that participation in society is a zero-sum game. They worry that if LGBT people are treated with dignity and respect, then conservative Christians will be shunned. Some claim that the Gospel will somehow be lost if LGBT people lead ordinary lives without cowering in fear and resigning themselves to destitution.

However, the Gospel is not actually about the exclusion of LGBT people. For those of us who claim Christianity, the Gospel is the life-giving message that God created us in love, and continued to love us by becoming incarnate, living among us, suffering, and dying for us all. For us, faith is believing that the choice to love lives on, even when it might not make sense, even when life is at its bleakest, even beyond death. The New Testament term for this reckless, upending hope—we learned as children—is resurrection.

There is nothing in there that says, “Keep the gays out” nor is there anything that tells us to give up our hope that those who wish to exclude LGBT people will someday join their fellow Americans in welcoming our families into the fabric of our nation.

Some of the people who best exemplify faith and grace are those who have been shunned from faith, community, and family, and yet have returned to offer a personal and moving witness. They know what grace is, and what it means for all of us. Christianity is not synonymous with the power to keep others out, but with sacrificial, community-building love, and its profound call is to the least of these.

The world is changing. It’s not happening by violent overthrow, but through loving witness, caring conversation, and living our lives as examples of people who care about the community around us.

To those who are feeling left behind by LGBT progress, I want to offer an invitation: You don’t have to be. You can look into your heart, into the lives of the people around you, and even into scripture to see that God is still doing wonderful work. And those of us who are LGBT people or who support LGBT people will be here, with arms open, ready to work with you to make the world a better place for all of us.

Ross Murray is the Director of Religion, Faith & Values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

About

  • DRJJJ

    Christians love gays too FYI! We’re just not in favor of gay marriage and never will be! Expand domestic partnership rights, stop all the hate talk and move on-sure! Christians are broken, disfunctional and can be big time hypocrites-there’s room for one more!

  • jay2drummer

    “Expand domestic partnership rights, stop all the hate talk and move on-sure!” Um, separate but equal is not equal. The ONLY WAY to ensure gays and their families get every right, benefit, and protection attached to marriage is marriage, unless you want to rename all unions in the civil institution of marriage as “domestic partnerships.” Nothing short of using the exact same term for all couples is acceptable because nothing short of that guarantees the exact same rights.

  • Catken1

    And I love Christians – I’m just not in favor of allowing your cult to call itself a religion and enjoy the full benefits of religious freedom in this country!

    See how that sounds? How can it be reasonable to say you love someone while you seek to hurt them?

  • FrenchChef

    It’s always sad to see some fool anti-gay tell that same LIE again that “all Christians want to hurt same gender couples,” when we all know better. These denominations will marry same gender couples in 9 US States and the District of Columbia, and have married them in California:

    The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    The Episcopal Church
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Metropolitan Community Church
    Conservative Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
    Unitarian Universalist Church
    United Church of Christ

    Recently, The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to accept LGBT ministers, and they expect to marry same gender couples next year. The Association of Unity Churches International is discussing same gender marriage. In some parts of the U.S., Methodist pastors have been marrying same-sex couples or conducting blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions for years with little fanfare and no backlash from the denomination. Calls to overturn the rule have become increasingly vocal in recent years, ratcheting up the pressure for the Methodist church to join other mainline Protestant denominations that have become more accepting of openly gay leaders.

    These denominations all agree with modern Biblical scholars, who have proven the Bible was intentionally mistranslated relatively recently to provide “Biblical cover” for rising levels of homophobia.

  • FrenchChef

    And spare us that lie that your intended LGBT VICTIMS are making “hate talk,” DRJJJ. No one is fooled by that lie either.

  • TheSeason

    Apostasy means to turn away from the truth once believed and then begin to reject the truth. Apostasy is a rebellion against God. Many Christians believe that the arrival of the Antichrist will happen but very few are looking for “the apostasy” that is prophesied to come first. The arrival of the Antichrist cannot occur until sufficient apostasy has happened in the world. The Antichrist would not be accepted in a world where the truth of God’s word is taught. The Bible says that the apostasy will come first and then the Antichrist will be revealed.

  • PhillyJimi1

    DRJ – who cares what Christians think about the issue of gay marriage? The government isn’t supposed to care if a particular religion or all religions object to something. Everyone is equal under the law. Marriage is a legal contract. Fair is fair.

    If you object to it on “your” religious grounds well that is nice but you don’t get to impose your religious views on me or anyone else.

    BTW most real Christians openly hate gay people.

  • twmatthews

    And almost every generation believes that the apocalypse will happen during their lifetime. It really should be embarrassing that people still believe in a loving god (who created hell and can put you there for believing the wrong myths), in heaven and hell and the devil and the anti-christ. I would have thought that these myths would have been laughed at by the 21st century.

  • leibowde84

    Most Christians claim that their reluctance to allow same-sex marriage rests on the notion that the government should promote family values and procreation. Here is why that is absolutely absurd:

    1. If those that are sterile, too-old for procreation, or on birth control (and never intend to have children) are allowed to marry, why in God’s name would we treat homosexuals any differently?! There must be some disgust toward homosexuality in general to rationalize this separation, as homosexuality has more or less been proven to be absent of choice. Further, the United States of 50 years ago was in need of encouragement for procreation, but many would argue it is absolutely not needed in the present world. How could one claim that in a world where abortions are not uncommon and unwanted pregnancies have hit record numbers, we still require encouragement for procreation?

    2. There is absolutely no proof beyond speculation that shows homosexual households to be detrimental to development or family values. Anyone can blindly claim that homosexuality is a sin and immoral, but beyond the ludicrous argument that “the bible says so” and “it just isn’t natural” (which is especially untrue, as it has been a natural occurrence since the beginning of man), there is no actual proof that homosexuality has anything to do with immorality and a lack of “family values.”

  • leibowde84

    And, in terms of wanting to keep the term “marriage” “pure,” I say this: The term “marriage” is a completely legal term, having nothing at all to do with God or faith of any kind. This is unlike it’s religious counterpart, “holy matrimony.” Marriage is a legal term that promotes monogamous relationships and encourages families to stay together. I agree that both of these intentions are important, but how does homosexuality infringe on them? There is no reason to believe that homosexuals are any less skilled at parenting. There is no reason to believe that it is detrimental to have children living with homosexual parents. Finally, there is no real reason to separate homosexual relationships from heterosexual relationships in our modern world. Maybe 50 years ago it was an important differentiation, but today it seems ludicrous.

  • An-Toan

    At SCOTUSbolog, check out the brief that the Episcopal Church et. al. filed with the Supreme Court. The message is logically sound, beautifully written, and endearing . . . thank you.

  • kpharmer

    DRJJJ, you don’t get to speak for all Christians. In fact, you only get to speak for yourself. It is patently and demonstrably false to state that all Christians reject same-sex marriage.

    You wrote about love, but I damned sure don’t see any love expressed in the opinion you shared.

    Practice your religion as you see fit, but don’t you dare demand that others conform to the constraints of your chosen dogma. Freedom of religion must include freedom from religion, or there is no freedom at all.

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