When the editor of this on-line magazine told me what the issue was going to be about I thought, “My God, how dry, how uninteresting for our community to read about.” After all there are battles to be fought with the Religious Right, politicians to be converted, rights to be won and relationships to be recognized. There is far, far too much to do to be thankful right now; our enemy is strong and if we stop even for a second we will be overcome.
Then I read the following passage from the Gospel of Luke:
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten persons who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ As they went they were cleansed. One of them when they saw they were healed, came back praising God in a loud voice. This one healed fell at Jesus’ feet thank him; this one was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to god except this foreigner?’ Then he said to this one, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'” (Luke 17:11-17)
Well I must say this article that the editor wants just got a whole lot more interesting. For it occurred to me, our Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender community are not much different from the ten lepers. Today it is we who are the untouchables in our world. It is we that somehow are cursed by God and shall rot in the pit of hell for the “love that dare not speak it’s name.” We have been cast out of the Temple, cast out of our families and cast out of our community. Sent to the likes of sleazy bars, baths, and parks.
We stand at a distance and cry out to God to have mercy on us, to save us, to give us a place where we will know peace. We cry out to God to be restored, healed and given new life. Like the lepers in the story we hear God tell us to go show ourselves to the priests. While going to the priests we discover gay churches and we do as we are told and tell the priests. We find that indeed we are whole creations of God! That we have something to offer the community in which we live. We go into the streets renewed and refreshed, full of energy and desire to fight for what is right. Over the years we have gained a tremendous amount of ground.
We have gone from a community where our “love dare not speak it’s name”, to a community that not only speaks it’s name but shouts it from every village and city! We have gone from only having parks and bars to literally websites full of options! We live in a time when it is impossible not to find a book about us, rather than the time our subject was banned. We have come from a time when our relationships were disguised as brothers and sisters to a time of national debate on our standard of marriage! We have come from a time of electro-shock therapy to being accepted in main stream psychology as normal and productive. We have come from a time when those who make the laws could ignore us and make us illegal, to a time where they court our vote and track hate crimes against us.
When we arrived at the Temple to show the priests, at first we were shunned and thrown out. Told the sins of our life would blot out any good. Yet, even in this, God called out priests who were not blinded by the letter of the law, but rather worked from the spirit of God. They to began to cry out: “God have mercy on us!” They make this cry with and for us. As we travel along the way, we look and see we have been cleansed!
So now as I reflect on this season of joy, I find myself thankful for those who cried out before me. I find myself thankful for those who cry out with me today. Most importantly this season I will go back to my God, my Savior, who has heard my cry and say; thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!
Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever and Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994, have been in a committed partnership since the early 1980s and have been legally married since 2015.