From January 5-8, I spent four days with 500+ LGBTQ+ Christians in Washington, DC, at the Q Christian Fellowship Conference. I heard amazing speakers like Karen Keen; Kai Ngu; William Matthews; Bishop O.C. Allen, III; and Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church Michael Curry. And Friday night we welcomed Semler to the Q Night Live stage. And those were just the main stage experiences.
Candice Czubernat, my friend and Christian Closet colleague, and I did a workshop on “Coming Out Later in Life,” which was attended by probably 30+ people, including so many people in mixed-orientation marriages. I’m always so grateful for opportunities to speak truth, hope and life into these complicated situations.
I got to hang out with my dear friends Richard Hinkelman and Robin Fox, single gay clergy friends who have been meeting with me and five other friends for the past 2-1/2 years, every two weeks on Zoom, for support and encouragement and prayer. It was such a joyful experience to finally be together in person!
Of course, I got to interact with many folks from Twitter. It’s always fun to meet these precious friends in real life. I know Twitter can be a cesspool, but it is what you make it, and for many of us, it’s been a lifeline and a way to connect with people and build relationships and find support. My beautiful Monday night LGBTQ+ contemplative spirituality group is what it is today because of Twitter.
I got to meet some of my spiritual direction and support group clients for the first time in real life, and it was so fulfilling to hug them and have coffee or a meal, to hear what’s happening in their lives and to see them thriving in this environment. I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of them go from tentative, closeted DMs to out and proud people over the last couple of years, and I couldn’t be prouder and happier.
One night was dedicated to age-group dinners. My group is called the “Cultured Club,” those of us born between 1967-1971. Nine of us went out for Mexican food and great conversation. It was so good to get to know people my age. We are survivors of so much, and I was so honored to be there among them, to hear their stories and to thank God that we made it.
Over the four days, I heard so many stories. I saw so much laughter and witnessed so many tears. So many beautiful human beings processing their complicated, beautiful lives.
The communion service on Sunday morning brought me to tears. So many precious, damaged people who have been so harmed by the people who were supposed to love and protect us. And yet here we are, coming back to the table, again and again, claiming our place, knowing deep in our hearts that we are welcome, that we are wanted, that we are created in the Image of the Divine, no matter what we’ve been told.
We long to follow Jesus, to worship and serve and fellowship and celebrate and love. And it has NOT BEEN EASY TO GET HERE. We are tired and bruised and beaten and bloody. But here we are.
And the gatekeepers can try to keep us out, and the theobros can rage and seethe, and the evangelical establishment can act like LGBTQ+ Christians don’t exist, but here we are. Glory to God.