Sunday, February 16, 2014

On Valentine's Day, Not Everybody's Dancing

LGBT Christians have had much to celebrate recently... the number of states providing legal marriage quality has pretty much doubled, and other countries have followed suit.  About two-thirds of the domestic dioceses of our church are using -- in some fashion -- the official rite for blessing same-gender relationships that was adopted by resolution at the 2012 General Convention.

"Looking for Love" by Alan Cleaver
Used under Creative Commons License
But as our culture holds up all things romantic and our welcoming congregations greet happy LGBT couples with open arms, it is important to remember that not everybody has a partner, and not everybody is celebrating. Single LGBT people have their own pastoral needs, particularly because their secular lives can be a bit of a battleground.

I wrote recently in my personal blog about how smart-phone apps have turned gay male dating into a GPS-powered scavenger hunt where a stamp-sized photo and the right set of acronyms are your only tools. Those who don't resemble the airbrushed images that saturate gay-targeted media find themselves at a disadvantage where the self-appointed top of the hierarchy are young, muscular, Caucasian and (distressingly) "straight-acting". Among the rest of us is a self-defeating tendency to idolize that which we are not, and our desirability is dependent on the degree to which we can "pass".

For a whole lot of reasons, our folks are statistically more likely to be unemployed, homeless, addicted and depressed, not because there is something inherently wrong with them; we just frequently have a tougher row to hoe, and it takes a toll.  As we know, the church traditionally bears some responsibility for this collateral damage, and thus we need to have a role in healing as well.  Even those who are coping nicely, thank you, would appreciate to be intentionally and specifically included in your programs and prayers.

As your congregation reviews its wedding customary to include same-gender couples and makes plans to observe Pride, please be mindful to include the whole LGBT community, not just those with shiny new rings.

Christian Paolino is the Chair of Integrity's Stakeholders' Council and Diocesan Organizer for Newark.

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