Today we pulled off Lac La Biche’s first Pride BBQ at the Friendship Centre (first one that I know of; no one’s come forward telling me that there’s been other LGBTQ+ events like this in our community’s history, and in a small town things like that get around pretty fast).
And we pulled it off with awesome sauce.
Okay, maybe that’s poor writing on my part but really: staff and volunteers pulled together to decorate and set-up; community groups, including a County Council member, showed up; students showed up, school administration showed up, nonprofit folks showed up, peace officers showed up, and people simply wandering in showed up.
There wasn’t any live music and there certainly wasn’t an amazing guest speaker to wow folks. It was a simple meal offered to help create awareness of the need to create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people in our community. That’s all.
I thought we’d get 10 — maybe 15 — people. After doing a head count when it seemed the most people were there, I counted 54 heads. 54! (not including the sweet old lady who walked in with her adult daughter; they promptly helped themselves to coffee, and were prepared to sit down when the daughter looked around at the flags on the tables. She approached me and asked what kind of event this was. When I told her, she scuttled back to her elderly mother, whispered hurriedly in her ear, and they both departed swiftly). 🙂 It was a little bit sweet, to be honest.
I guess I wasn’t prepared for such an overwhelming response. My professional and personal experience tells me that even with positive responses, there will always be negative and damning ones. Maybe my fear hasn’t shut itself off yet. When phrases like the following rattle around inside:
“Gay people are mental aberrations” (affirming conversion therapy which amounts to little more than spiritual and emotional abuse)
“I like gay people fine. They just sin differently.” (wrong. Churches have elevated same-sex relationships so high on the sin radar that LGBTQ+ find it difficult to seek any common ground because of inherent evilness.)
“Gays are an abomination before God.” (this one simply shuts the “God is love” thing down completely)
“Gay people can’t know God’s love until they change. Y’know… because it’s a choice.” (when did you choose to be straight, may I ask?)
“I’m all fine around gay people, as long as they don’t live the ‘lifestyle’ ” (and what “lifestyle” would that be, perchance?)
“Gays are looking to push their gay agenda on the traditional family. We can’t let them win!” (my agenda has a picture of my seminary’s campus on it; what’s yours got a picture of?)
LGBTQ+ aren’t sacred… we defile sacred… we overturn God’s created order… we have the power to infect others… we’re icky… we’re filled with raging lust, rebelling against God.
I’m the “good girl”.
(**Point of clarification: I’m in no way saying that other LBTQ+ people brought up differently than myself or who have made different choice than myself are “bad”)
I was brought up in a strict home with a strong sexual purity ethic. Before you judge or get some idea of a cult into your head, questions of all kinds were welcomed and encouraged. I was never really shut away from the world at all! Things like sex outside of marriage was frowned open, true. I’ll be honest about that. And as a serious person, I took that missive seriously. I’ve never had intercourse (too much?). I’ve never really had any physical intimacy of any kind because… I still want the God I believe in to be a part of all my relationships, and it’s never been the right time. Celibacy is MY choice. And I honour that choice.
And it could be, too, that I suck at social situations, making me not-so-hot-stuff dating material, but that’s another story.
I’m attracted to different genders, so that makes me… bi? Gender-queer? Gender-questioning?
Even saying it out loud still makes me want to throw up with fear. Who will email me now? Who will say this? Who will say that?
Whom will I lose??
My point is: I’ve never actually DONE anything wrong!!! And yet… there are those who have damned me; who continue to damn me; who claim I’m an aberration, an abomination, or a threat.
I did all the right things as a kid (I thought); I had my hiccups in college with friendships and classes (as we all do); I navigated my way through young adulthood; but celibacy was a choice on my part with the God I believed in and still believe in. How is it that I’m considered an abomination when I haven’t done anything wrong?
The only difference now is: I’ve said it out loud.
For some, I’ve gone from model Christian to hell-bound abomination.
We’ve seen how the 7 Clobber Passages in Scripture used to damn LGBTQ+ people have been taken grossly out of context, and used to abuse beautiful, wonderful people. Christian theology really doesn’t have a leg to stand on that regard. But we keep dragging it out and dragging it out.
You might ask: “Erin, if you haven’t been sexually active, how do you REALLY know you’re bi?”
Well I might as well ask you when you decided to that you were straight? Was that a conscious decision? When you did you really KNOW?
I have strong physical, emotional, mental and yes — sexual — attractions to male and female genders. If I acted on entering into a relationship with a male, perhaps all would be well. A woman? Ummm…
What would happen?
Maybe it’s because of these strong attractions that I’ve refrained from entering into any relationship at all. I’m not dirty or evil or an abomination, but I don’t want lose any more people. I can’t.
Btw, if I enter into a relationship with a guy that doesn’t make me “straight”; and if I enter into a relationship with a woman, that doesn’t make me a lesbian. It still means I’m bi. And having attractions isn’t wrong. We all have them!
One the of responses, I think, that hurts the most is when long-time female friends come back to me and timidly ask if I’m sexually attracted to them. Because if I’m bi, that means my dearest friendships with females MUST have a sexual element to it. It’s sad. And no one’s heart breaks more than mine.
So why am I still freaked out?
I still have a hard time saying out loud who I am.
I still fear losing people.
I still sometimes wonder if I should open my email account in the mornings.
I still believe that, to please everyone, I should keep away from all dating relationships. And THAT is a lonely, lonely life to me.
Today went so well. I am so happy.
But the fear is going to take a good long time to iron itself out. So if true love really does cast out all fear, I await its arrival.