Celebrate LGBTQIA PRIDE: Forge Forward Justice for All

The greatest tribute to this celebration is living un-closeted, defying stigma and shame. My story is:

While driving one day in Atlanta, my husband blurts out, “I want to live the rest of my life as a gay man.”

I nearly ran off the road.

This sudden admission of his homosexuality was a loose string in a ball of deceit.  When I pulled that string, my entire life unraveled.

But, there was more pain to come.

My darling son, then an underclassman in college, became HIV Positive.   I needed answers to make sense of my life. Drenched in despair, I turned to God.  In seminary, in pursuit of theological cognition, I discovered that faith hate and hypocrisy were the culprits.

What created this secrecy and the resulting bombshell? Heterosexism — the bigoted practice of imaging God as heterosexual; and teaching and preaching that God hates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, or Asexual (LGBTQIA) people — is the root of this problem. This toxic theology has several manifestations: because of fear, closeted LGBTQIA people, advance heterosexism; hate crimes slay thousands of innocent souls every year; discrimination dehumanizes and demoralizes lives, and extreme self-hate transforms the closeted into violent perpetrators that hurt the object of their love.

Secrecy (being closeted) functions this way — and explodes intimacy and authenticity in human relationships.

My now, Ex-Husband, was a member of a “secret” society of prominent gay pastors.  When he came out, he was ostracized by his colleagues, other congregations, and even his own congregation. Membership numbers decreased, and church revenue dwindled.  We need a truly open society that provides spiritual, emotional and social support to (1) help these pastors live and preach their truth; and (2) assist them in coming out of the closet without losing their economic base.

Imagine the impact on church and society, if the voices of these influential pastors were un-closeted. Barack Obama (a heterosexual) and the June 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling opened the hearts of America to understand the importance of marriage equality to the same-gender loving community. What if prominent LGBTQIA people did likewise?  I believe that millions of souls would be set free and millions of lives saved.

Church and society’s dehumanizing attacks on LGBTQIA people fuels being closeted and secret societies and creates human beings that self-hate and then hurt others.  Acts of violence and scorn against LGBTQIA people are reprehensible. Still, like our foremothers and forefathers endured severe persecutions for the sake of liberty, justice, freedom, human being equality, and inclusion into the human family, again this practice (that birthed a revolution) must become true — because living closeted, may fill church offering plates on Sunday morning; but it creates a false societal illusion and advances bigotry and discrimination that emotionally or physically kills people.

My book, The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life & Reconstructed My Faith (Hunter/Simon and Schuster), blows the whistle on this practice.  I understand that Whistleblowers don’t get good press. Still, I am not ashamed or afraid. Whistleblowers are necessary for society – otherwise, vandals continue to vandalize, rapists continue to rape, murderers continue to murder– whistleblowers protect and save lives!

Faith hate and hypocrisy is the paradox that has arrested my life’s attention. Historical theologian, Edgar G. Hawkins said, “The church is implicated in the sickness of our society because it failed to protect its own values.” Lifted from politically and economically charged interpretations of the biblical texts are the notions that:  God condemns gays to hell; God condemns people of color to a life of slavery/servitude, God condemns women to certain life roles and conditions; and other God proclamations and imaging that grow church and political coffers.

Jesus is celebrated by liberal and conservative Christian theologians as the perfect revelation of God and God’s truth.  What a paradox? Oppression and discrimination that thrives in our society are powered and justified by these debated, false notions that are not upheld by the teachings of and life practice of Jesus.

My story is written for this purpose: to inspire people to embrace and practice truth — to engender justice for all in church and society.

Finally, the dogma that God hates LGBTQIA is a lie. God is spirit and cannot be imaged by gender or sexual practice. God’s love is inclusive. Any faith community that teach or practice that God’s love is NOT inclusive functions as the anti-Christ.

Don’t hide your sexual and gender identity for the sake of anything — this practice only leads to death.

How many must suffer and die as masses remain silent? Though the fallout of such disclosure may be severe, we must gird up our loins with courage, and forge forward justice for all. In the words of MLK, Jr. — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Freedom is not born without sacrifice. (S)tart now, (T)ake the first step, (A)dvance Coming Out, (R)ejoice in your truth, (T)ell the world/un-closet your voice — S.T.A.R.T. — START.

As an Advocate and Ally – I celebrate the LGBTQIA community — for being — and for their tremendous contributions to society — and as essential members of the human family.

Today, right now, START!

Lydia Meredith
The Gay Preacher’s Wife

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