How my queer life is a spiritual life
My family wasn't very religious, but sure, I was personally very involved with church.
But the bullies drove me out of there with taunts and beatings (Who Would Jesus Bully?) and I stopped going to church.
Something else kept me believing.
In my early twenties, I was involved with a different Christian group. When I transitioned, I no longer fit there. I decided "religion is the politics of spirituality".
Something else kept me believing.
Starting from when I transitioned to living as the female person I know I am, it took ten years before I was in a position to have surgery. By then I asked myself the question "if most of the people in my life don't know I didn't have the surgery, why does it matter?" But it did matter to me, a nagging irritation.
And then, a week or so after returning home from the place where I had my surgery done, I was lying on my back and looking at the ceiling. A sense of peace descended on me, and I felt, without words, what I can only approximate in writing:
All of this was necessary to bring me to this point. My loving creator has carried me this far so I can become who my creator dreamed me to be.This wasn't "God said it was OK". This was "God meant this for you: it is part of how you are gifted, to bring God's grace to others."
I didn't know what to do with this, but I knew I had to be there for others the way I wish people had been there for me.
I had been "stealth" (we used to call it "woodworked") at work - while people knew I was Lesbian, they didn't know I was transgender, So I outed myself at work, seven years after I had started there.
I joined the Chicago Lesbian Avengers and was involved in a few actions.
I was involved with a Transsexual Menace group that never really seemed to get going.
I decided I was going to go back to school and get a psychology degree so I could be a resource to trans people who were in need of a sympathetic ear.
As mentioned in yesterday's blog, this was not the sort of person I usually was. I never felt I was a powerful enough person to be doing such work. I didn't feel like one of the "cool kids". That didn't change -- I still felt too small for the job -- but the job felt too important to ignore.
And gradually, that old idea of call came back. Again, wordless, but if there would have been a word, it would have been:
Move.A simple imperative with a full stop. No comma here.
As I mentioned yesterday, I resisted. One evening, I spent three hours in my pickup truck arguing with God. For every protest I spoke aloud, there was a wordless question as a response. Most of the questions felt like "who will people listen to about grace, if not you?" and "who can God not use?"
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.What does it mean for me to have been given this queer life?
- Luke 12:48b, NRSV
I know what it means to lose one's family.
I know what it's like to gain one's family back.
And so now, when I read Jesus talking about who his family is, I "get it" just a little more.
I know what it means to be turned away from community.
I know what it means to be embraced by community again.
When I read about people being outside the community, and Jesus restoring them to community, I "get it" just a little more.
I know what it means to be a part of one marginalized group and be afraid of being rejected by that group if they find out I'm part of another marginalized group.
When I read about how a community can be occupied by an imperial force, and that occupied community's leaders still have the time and energy to belittle people who have even less power, I "get it" just a little more.
And that's why my ministry is not just a queer ministry - it's a ministry with anyone and everyone who has been marginalized.
My queer god
On a personal level, being transgender has made me think about the gender of God. I grew up with a male God, but my gender transition made me confront the idea of a gendered or sexed God. My current personal understanding is that sex is created by God, and gender by society. If that is so, then God exists outside of, and within, sex and gender. Without the creation of sexed creatures, however, there was no sex.
Extending this idea, I have come to realize that, without God's creation of light, there is no sight. Without sound, there is no hearing. Without matter, there are no bodies, no arms, no legs.
So my new understanding of God is a blind, deaf God with no limbs to walk or reach. The only thing I can confidently say God has is creativity. Aside from that, everything we have is a gift invented by God, which could not even have been possessed by God before God created it.
I know this sounds a little strange, and may even make people feel a little uncomfortable.
But the point is that everything we culturally think of as "normal" is how we tend to imagine God, and how we imagine God reinforces what we think of as "normal". And in our culture, "normal" is still largely an older straight white male with a good head of hair.
Yet we're seeing as through a glass, dimly. We think we're seeing through, but a lot of what we see is a reflection of ourselves and our perceptions of the world.
"Normal" gets a lot of power. But if everything we have is created by God, then it may be that those of us without so many "normal" characteristics are a lot closer to how God is. Maybe that's why God so often uses the small (David), the female (Jael), the reluctant (Jonah), the inarticulate (Moses), the family reject (Joseph) and others who are not the obvious "best choice" to work on God's behalf. The heroes of the Bible are queer in their own right. God chooses queer representatives.
Maybe if we looked at who God calls, we would see the queerness in God.
What being queer has done for me
I think my queer life is an incredible gift. If I had remained the straight, white, male, conservative Christian I was as a child, I might have had a lot of cultural power. I might have even pastored a megachurch. And it might have been incredibly difficult for me to see the love God has for every person pushed to the margins and belittled by the privileged.
God has carried me through an amazing journey. I know the love God has for me, even when others were willing to turn their backs.
And as queer as it may seem, I believe my queerness is part of what equips me for what God calls me to be.