At the end of every month, I share my favorite comments from that month's posts, and you're invited to do the same and link up below!
This month's posts were brought to you (unofficially) by the Gay Christian Network -- first, a giveaway of the GCN executive director's amazing book, Torn, and then several posts about my experience attending my first Gay Christian Network conference. Also, as it's the start of a new year, I had several posts talking about how my 2012 goals went and my plans for 2013.
Emily had mixed feelings about 2013's Vision Board Plus One Word:
I've been seeing this idea of one word for the year a lot. I see it every year, but I feel it's more prominent this year. Part of me feels like it would be good for me to find one word to really focus on. The other part of me is all "HOW CAN YOU SUM UP A WHOLE YEAR IN ONE WORD???? THAT'S CRAZY TALK!" It's something I'm thinking about though. I think "peace" is a good one - I know it's something I need to work on. However, there are a lot of things I need to work on. Haha. Can't wait to hear about your 2013 board though!
As usual, my best friend Missy totally understood me and the travel anxieties I shared in Traveling to New Places: A Guide for Control Freaks Like Me:
Loved all your strategies! I am definitely an over-planner when it comes to trips and traveling. I get the same sense of anxiety riding any form of public transportation, and don't get me started on my fear of missing a connection or a bus ride. I have definitely found that the more prepared I am, and the more time I give myself to get places, the more relaxed it is. I like to create a Word document that has the addresses, check in/check out times, phone numbers, flight numbers and times, for everywhere I'm going. When we were in Orlando two years ago, I had a list of all the parks we wanted to go to, when they opened and closed, the price, and where to catch the free shuttle to get there. It made it easy to change our plans because we knew what our options were!
Good for you for braving that trip by yourself!!
I was extremely touched by the comments shared on the post 6 Assumptions Smashed by the GCN Conference.
James Walker said:
This is beautiful. I am a homosexual and married to my partner of 8 years. Well, legally, it's been three. I have been reading your posts regularly now and truly appreciate your spiritual insight. I am a life coach, I know how hard it is to give opinion without offense to either party. And you do it so effortlessly.
Mary Kate shared her own journey:
I think you do a good job with this subject, Jessica. Being a Catholic, I believe there is a reason the Church stands where they do on marriage, but I am no longer opposed to recognizing the marriages of same-sex persons legally. There are no easy answers to these issues. It's very hard to remain loyal to the Church and believe that it's okay to be married to someone of the same gender. A lot of times I just have to give it to God and say, please do something with this God, because I don't know what to do or think or say about this. I think that I would probably put it on par with a straight couple being divorced in the Church as far as the issues I have philosophically.
One area that I have become very interested in is the stories of transgender persons. I have a client that is MTF transgender, and she has actually given me a lot of resources so that I can effectively help her, versus someone who is not transgender. The one thing that I find amazing is that transgender folks are still not really recognized as a group within LGBTQ. Someone who is gay actually told her that they thought being trans was a choice. You would think out of all people they wouldn't say that. Sigh. Even the Church doesn't think it's a choice (mostly).
And Ford1968 said:
I just wanted to let you know I think this is awesome and to thank you for writing it.
I got a huge chuckle out of the story about the "overly-understanding" mom. It illustrates your point perfectly: common experiences are by no means universal ones.
Also, I'm sorry to say that being thrown out of churches is not, by far, the worst of the church-based abuses of LGBT people. Hang around with our community long enough and you will hear some horrific stories. It's no wonder why there is such animosity toward the church from so many people who are gay. I give the folks who lived through these experiences a lot of credit. To be mistreated horribly by those who claim to represent Christ, and yet to continue to seek out and form faith communities - that is a true and beautiful expression of faithfulness.
My sincere thanks for being an ally. The church is better because you're in it.
I was equally moved by the comments on the follow-up post, Being a Straight Ally: Lessons from the GCN Conference.
Rachel's gratitude meant a lot to me:
Jessica, I am so touched that you sacrificed time, money, and comfort to go to this conference with no other motive than to learn how to support others better. As you found out, a good ally is an incredible blessing to the LGBTQ community, especially among Christians.
I see a good ally primarily as someone who listens, which includes being humble and open to change, seeking out perspectives different from their own, and staying respectful even when they disagree. A good ally does not have to agree with me, but she does have to care about me as a person and treat me like a friend. And a good Christian ally sees me as a sister in Christ, no matter how different our lives are.
Again, thank you for caring enough to be present and listen.
And I know I've done well if I can make Q think:
Thank you for this and the preceding post, which was especially helpful for me in terms of re-examining myself as an ally and what preconceptions I still have to chip away at. "Listening and speaking" I found to be a great, concise way of describing not only being an ally for the LGBTQ community, but for any other group.
Really listening to someone speaking with their own voice and paying attention to their self-definition is really key for me, and something I continually have to remind myself to do. It's not always easy to silence that (somewhat self-congratulatory) inner voice that proclaims what I know as an "outsider".
I am a better person because of the perspective I gain from each of you who take the time to share your thoughts. Thank you! And I look forward to more great conversations next month.