Praise is to God for all those in the LGBTQIA community who have been willing to let their light shine brightly for all to see. Thank God for all those who face the loss of family, job, property or even the loss of life, and stand strong and say, “No, the closet is no place to live.”
In the red zone
Yet with all this progress, we now find ourselves in the “red zone” on the football field of life. The red zone is the last 20 yards a team must travel on the field to score a touchdown. It is said by football experts that it is the hardest ground to make progress because the defending team will do everything it can to stop you.
The only way to get into the end zone is for the team driving to unite to continue the progress to the goal line.
My point is that now is not the time to allow our community to become divided and apathetic towards those who would do us harm. For now the real test comes. Will the diversity of our community be our strength or will we turn on ourselves and begin to self-destruct?
Let there be no mistake, those who would do us harm are now desperate and will stop at nothing to derail and push back our progress. They will lie, attempt to legislate, ex-communicate, fire from jobs, make up wild stories, or physically assault us so as to raise the level of fear to ungodly heights.
We need not look any further than our own backyard. In just the last month. Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin has compared us to drug dealers and noted that “the Bible says [homosexuality] is a capital offense.” In Carrollton, a gay man had his home burned after someone threw a rock through the window with a homophobic note attached.
Now is the time
This kind of stuff is only going to get more focused and painful if we stop what we have done all along, which is to allow our diversity to shine through.
Now is not the time to move to the suburbs and pretend everything is OK.
Now is not the time to pit organizations in our community one against the other.
Now is not the time to say, “You can’t speak for me because you are white.” Or black. Or young. Or transgender. Or not.
Now is not the time to throw anyone or group from our community under the bus simply because we are not comfortable with them.
Now is not the time for the faith community to be guarding its particular turf.
Now is not the time for those who are from the “grass roots” way of doing things and those from the more corporate side of our community to say, “We can’t and we won’t work together.”
Now is the time to allow Georgia Equality, the Queer Justice League and a host of other organizations to come at our oppressors from every direction and with a diversity of plans of action.
Now is the time for our faith communities to come together, and be the spiritual leaders our community needs.
Now is the time to get involved, to find those places in the community where your ideas, creativity and passion can be most useful. Yes, that includes being willing to spend a little less on partying and giving some of that money to those who are in your opinion doing the work.
Now is the time to revisit an ancient writing from 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, with renewed commitment to its purpose:
“If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
We are in the red zone. Now is the time for our diversity to be our integrity and strength.
Rev. Paul Turner is pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, www.gentlespirit.org.