Here’s what happens when you tweet about sexism…

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Last night, I posted a tweet about a guy making comments about my body at McDonald’s. I posted the incident with the hashtag #everydaysexism. I woke up this morning to 37 angry tweets (and counting) from anti-feminist men who basically proved my point for me. I’ve included a few here. I’m lucky, I guess, that none of these tweets use vile expletives or threaten me, but honestly I was a little overwhelmed by the onslaught.

This is an interesting week for it, too. Donald Trump promises to represent sexism and misogyny at the presidential level by accusing Hillary of playing “the woman card.” A viral video makes the rounds revealing the truly awful comments thrown toward female sportswriters. I take part in a conversation about raising girls in this world today and the need to not only teach them how to avoid sexual assault, but how to handle it if it happens to them (because statistics show that it very well might). And I land my first piece for Sojourners, writing about the comments clergy receive about their body–particular female clergy. Oh, and I got into a debate with a guy who suggested men were more at risk of being raped than women and that statistics that say otherwise are all lies. Cause yeah.

Meanwhile, Harriet Tubman finally becomes the first woman granted a place on American money and Beyonce demonstrates, once again, the power of a black woman’s voice. And the scripture text for Sunday is about Lydia, a woman credited as the first European convert to Christianity.

So I share this experience and these tweets, not because they’re the worst thing to happen in the world of sexism this week, but because they’re far from it. It’s everywhere, and it’s not just 37 guys hunkered down in their parents’ basements hating on women cause they got turned down for a date. These are men who wake up and go out into the world everyday as fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands. Sexism is insidious on every level and the little stuff leads to the big stuff.

Call me an angry feminist if you want–you’re absolutely right I’m angry. But I’ll tell you what: my anger and my feminism are not what you should be worried about.

 

 

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On Plans, Permission, 30, & What’s Next (a love story)

A couple of weeks ago, I made a big, scary, exciting decision. I’ve waffled about whether to post about it because there’s nothing formalized about it to make it feel real, other than my own conviction. Nevertheless, I am thrilled and invigorated by it and, if you know me at all, you know I can’t keep my mouth shut about that sort of thing. So here it is: I’M MOVING TO DC THIS FALL!

No, I don’t have a job yet, and I may not by the time my residency here in Chicago ends, but I’m planning to go to DC either way. I’ve got some savings and, if I have to, I’ll figure out the rest when I get there. That may mean part time work and volunteering and pulpit supply and who knows what else. We’ll see what the future brings. But I know where I’m headed.

Three years ago, I passed through DC on my way back to Texas from Philly. I hadn’t been there since our safety patrol trip in 6th grade, and I had never really given it much thought. But that night I fell a little bit in love. I’ve been back 4 or 5 times since then, and I’ve fallen a little bit more in love every time. It’s beautiful, and it feels enough like the South to quell some of the homesickness I’ve carried since leaving the Southeast 8 years ago. I love the feel of it, and the history. I love the people I know there, and the happy hours ;). And there are so. many. awesome. Presbyterians. I love it that important things happen there—new history all the time.

DC also seems to resonate, in many ways, with the growing pull I feel to the intersection of theology and justice. I want to apply my faith, theological training, experience, and ordination to the world of advocacy, to the world of policy change. I want to stand in that intersection and help build the sort of world Jesus believed in. Though for now, I feel  led to places other than parish ministry, who knows where this path might take my ministry down the road. All I know is that it will go somewhere and I am wide open.

I’m afraid that people will see this as a move away from my call to ministry, but honestly, this feels more like I’m following my call than anything else I can imagine. For awhile now, I have felt led to DC—in a way that I can’t quite explain. But I’ve decided to give myself permission to just trust without fully understanding, and to go and see what God has in store for me there. I have always wanted to be the sort of person who would just take off on an adventure to a new place without any guarantees, but I have always been too afraid. I am finally learning that risk can lead to great things and failure, when it happens, is rarely fatal (thanks improv).

I turn 30 this summer and I have finally decided that this is how I want to celebrate. By being brave and following my heart and embracing adventure–giving thanks that, at 30, I have the savings, the resume, and the confidence to do so. I’m a little scared, but I’m even more excited. Last fall in an improv class I said that I dreamed of one day letting myself make the “heart choice” instead of always just the smart choice. That led me to dedicate this whole year of my life to LOVE and to letting go. And this move, this choice, is absolutely an act of love—for myself, for God, and for this gift of a life I’ve been given. I suppose something crazy could happen and turn this all on its head, but barring that, I am DC bound.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Connections – especially when the time draws near, I want to connect with as many people I can in DC for friendship and community (and some job leads wouldn’t hurt!). So if you know good people, let me know them too.
  • Prayer – my future is an open question that I’m trusting God will do something with. Prayers for courage and conviction and faith are much appreciated.
  • Encouragement – Even if you think I’m ridiculous, I hope for your love and support.

Love you all! DC, here I come!

DARE.

(My shoes and the Capitol, from that first fateful trip)

Thoughts on the Apology Overture from a Bisexual Pastor

Do you remember how arguments went when we were kids? The offense would happen, shouting would ensue, and when an adult got tired of the noise they’d find out what was going on, assign blame, and make the guilty apologize. These apologies always came in a flat monotone with a side of eye-roll. Nobody believed they were sincere and in my experience, they did little to help. I am not a fan of empty apologies. At best, they’re hollow. At worst, they have the power to smother any real, purposeful reconciliation.

I have not weighed in publicly about 11-05, the overture being sent to our PCUSA General Assembly this summer that proposes a denominational apology for the injustices done to LGBTQ folks by the church (read it here). I’ve talked plenty to friends about my complicated thoughts on the document, but I haven’t been vocal in any public space because it seems clear that I risk being told that I’m a “bad queer” if my view don’t align as they should, and frankly, I’m not sure my views entirely align with anyone’s.

Do I think our denomination has committed grievous injustices to queer and trans people? Absolutely. Do we deserve an apology? Yes. Do I want an apology from our church? Yes. Do I believe that an intentional institutional apology has significant power to heal and reconcile? Most definitely.

But only if we mean it. And here’s the thing: I don’t think we mean it.

I don’t think we mean it because the very same constitutional changes that this overture points to as justification for an apology were literally constructed with loopholes to allow for the continued marginalization of queer people by those whose theology differs. I have personally never promised anyone that they wouldn’t be forced to participate in justice toward LGBTQ people like myself because I don’t think it’s really justice or inclusion until it comes without exception. But our denomination has very clearly split that semantic hair. We did it so that those constitutional changes would pass because we knew the church wasn’t ready for them to pass in any less compromising way.

This is why, when I discuss the recent shifts toward more inclusive ordination standards and marriage definition, I describe them as moves toward justice. I describe them as being more inclusive. We have not arrived at a place where justice for LGBTQ persons is being fully enacted or embodied. It has been a long road, I know, but like or not, we are not at its end.

We are not yet a just or fully inclusive church and not just because there is still clear evidence of persistent sexism or because we’ve only just begun to confront the depths of our institutional racism. We are not yet a just or fully inclusive church even for queer people. There has not been a single denominational move—as far as I know—toward justice and inclusion for bisexual people other than the degree to which our justice and inclusion is assumed into that of gay and lesbian people. We have only begun to name the existence of those who are transgender, let alone recognizing and seeking to dismantle the transphobia emanating from our denominational pores. As the brother/sister language of this overture itself makes clear, we still don’t recognize and include those whose gender identity is nonbinary—that is, falls outside the categories of man or woman (and thank you to the friend and colleague who pointed this out, when my own privilege had allowed me to miss it completely).

The perpetuation of injustice within our denomination is not just the story of our past: it is our ongoing present. And it is not just the problem of a handful of vocal conservatives, or even of the straight church—it is also a problem within the queer church itself. I say that as someone whose queer identity is often met with suspicion and rejection from gay and lesbian siblings in faith and who often feels almost as unsafe in queer spaces as I do in straight spaces. None of this even scratches the surface of the intersecting injustices faced by queer people of color or queer people with disabilities. We all have a lot of work to do.

Look, I love this church. It gives me so much joy and hope even despite the ways it has (and continues to) deeply, deeply hurt me and others I love. And I also care about those in our church who don’t believe I should be allowed to be ordained or married to a partner who is not male—those who believe they have nothing to apologize for. But I am not now, nor have I ever been, willing to circumvent justice in the name of their comfort. I am not opposed to this overture passing because it will make them uncomfortable. But I am concerned that its passing will allow comfort for some others who should also be uncomfortable.

I am angry at how broken our church is and how callously it has rejected and wounded its own children in the name of bigotry and fear and ignorance. I am angry that injustices in our church have gone on for so long—much longer, I realize, than I have had to experience personally. I am overwhelmed that there is still so much work to do.

I absolutely want an apology. And I want us to mean it. But I don’t know how we can when we cannot yet even recognize—let alone repent of—all the injustices we are doing to queer and trans people even now.

I’m glad this overture exists. I’m glad it is making sure that the push for full LGBTQ justice in our church doesn’t go away. I’m glad for the hard but necessary conversations this overture is stirring up. I hope that conversations about the need for the church to recognize and apologize for injustice never go away and that eventually they lead to legitimate action, confession, healing, and reconciliation. But I am not at all convinced that this current overture should be passed by our General Assembly.

We don’t believe in cheap grace. We believe in genuine repentance. Our beloved broken church shouldn’t have projected onto it or get credit for an apology that it isn’t ready to mean or live into. I am not interested in a flat monotone with a side of eye-roll. And I am profoundly worried what injustices will be quietly allowed to persist if that’s the apology we settle for.

I expect more. We deserve more. God calls us to more.